Kate Hills

Kate Hills is the founder and editor of Make it British. After 20 years working as a designer and buyer for brands such as Burberry, Levis and M&S, she became disillusioned with the short term vision that many of them had about where their products were sourced. Determined to do something to promote British manufacturing and brands who's products are made in Britain, she set up the Make it British website, a leading source of information on products made in the UK> She lives in a mid-century bungalow in Surrey and in her spare time she is studying for a masters degree in internet retailing.

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Industry experts will tell you all you need to know to build a ‘Made in Britain’ brand at our second Make it British Forum

Make it British Forum

Make it British has announced the speaker line up for its second Make it British Forum on 2nd November 2017. The event is kindly being hosted by the Manchester Fashion Institute in the stunning location of the Manchester Business School in central Manchester.

Speakers for the one day event include:

Sara Prowse, CEO of Hotter Shoes, the largest footwear manufacturer in the UK, will be talking about what made in Britain really means to her customers

Mat Booth, founder of Both Barrels, will focus on why simplicity is key when building a brand made in the UK

English Fine Cottons will be on hand to talk about how the first cotton spinning mill in the UK for decades now affords businesses the opportunity to have a totally British supply chain

David Collinge of John Spencer Textiles in Lancashire, who will be joining English Fine Cottons to share his part in the renovation of a completely British supply chain.

Isabelle Ugochukwu, the inspirational founder behind the Isabella Queen handbag brand, will give an honest account of what it’s really like to launch a British-made brand. She will explain how her brand is disrupting the status quo, and aims to educate the world away from fast fashion and unethical manufacture

Mike Stoll, co-owner of Manchester-based brand and factory Private White, will be giving the low-down on what it takes to develop a great partnership with your manufacturer

Denise Pearson, of leathergoods manufacturer Deni-Deni will be joining our manufacturing panel – which is your opportunity to quiz some of the UK’s best fashion and accessory manufacturers

Charlotte Meek from The Stitch Society will be imparting some great advice for those wanting to go down the route of setting up their own manufacturing unit

Ross Barr-Hoyland, will explain how his award winning British label label Ross Barr has got off to such a flying start with the press and buyers

Bruce Montgomery, a menswear consultant and professor in design craftsmanship, will be bringing his years of design experience to our panel to answer your questions on design and brand identity.

We’re delighted to have such a knowledgable line-up of experts for our second Make it British Forum. This one-day event will provide you with all you need to know to develop a made in Britain brand, from design, product development and manufacturing to funding, promotion and selling the product.

The Agenda for the Make it British Forum on 2nd November:

9:00 – Registration

9:30 – Welcome – Colin Renfrew, Director of Manchester Fashion Institute

9:45 – Intro – Kate Hills, Make it British

10:00 – Session 1 – Keynote. Mat Booth, Both Barrels

10:30 – Session 2 – Keynote. Sara Prowse, Hotter Shoes

11:00 – Coffee Break

11:30- Session 3 – Regenerating the UK textile supply chain

English Fine Cottons; David Collinge, John Spencer Textiles

12:15- Session 4 – Ask the Experts – Manufacturing Q&A

Chair – Kate Hills, Make it British; Mike Stoll, Private White V.C.; Denise Pearson, Deni-Deni; Special Guest (TBC)

1:15 – Lunch

2:15 – Session 5 – Barbara Shepherd , Manchester Fashion Institute

2:45 Session 6 – Ask the Experts – Brand Q&A

Chair – Kate Hills, Make it British; Bruce Montgomery, Menswear Consultant; Ross Barr-Hoyland, Ross Barr; Charlotte Meek, The Stitch Society

3:45 – Coffee Break

4:00 Session 7 – Isabelle Ugochuckwu, Isabella Queen

4:45 – Closing Remarks

5:00 – Close

The sessions will be interactive with plenty of time for Q&As and networking.  And with such a diverse mix of opinions across a broad range of product areas, from menswear, womenswear, accessories and textiles  – we’re expecting some lively debates!

The Make it British Forum will be held in association with the Manchester Fashion Institute

Go here to book tickets and find out more details about the event

Over 60 businesses and stakeholders came together in Leicester last week to develop a plan to support the growing demand for UK garment manufacturing. Read on to find out why now, why Leicester and what’s next…

Leicester Clothes the World

Can Leicester get back to it’s garment manufacturing heyday?

A ground-breaking meeting was held at Leicester City Hall on the 6th October 2017 to look at ways in which retailers and manufacturers in Leicester can work together better, and to address concerns around bad practice by some manufacturers in the area.

The assembly of retailers, manufacturers and regulatory organisations was chaired by Leicester City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby. Attended by senior leaders from several High Street retailers including ASOS, New Look, Dunelm and Next,  there were also several manufacturers present, including Jenny Holloway from ethical London-based garment factory Fashion Enter.

Representatives from the British Retail Consortium, Citizens Advice, HMRC, Fire Brigade and Trading Standards also attended, as well members of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.

The meeting was called after management at Asos and New Look, who both manufacture garments in Leicester, said they would like to increase the amount of products that they make in the UK but were worried about the unethical credentials of some Leicester manufacturers.

Why is this in the spotlight now?

More and more retailers are waking up to the fact that making locally can help to reduce markdowns and therefore increase profitability.

In the meeting Nick Beighton, CEO of ASOS, said that his business already makes 3% of its products in the UK (with the majority in Leicester) and planned to triple UK production in the next five years. Mr Beighton said: “Our goal is to bring customers the best fashion as quickly as possible, and there’s nothing faster than manufacturing in the UK.”

Why is all of the focus on Leicester?

Leicester has the largest amount of garment workers in the UK – there are 1500 garment manufacturing businesses in Leicester employing over 10,000 people. Textiles is estimated to be worth half a billion pounds to the Leicestershire economy.

If there is to be a significant revival in UK garment manufacturing Leicester is the obvious place for it to be.

What are the challenges?

According to recent reports in the press, there are some manufacturers in Leicester who are flouting the law in order to produce garments at lower prices. Staff being paid below the minimum wage, and factories operating from unsound buildings are amongst the concerns.

It’s a problem not unique to the textile industry – other industries such as nail bars and car washes also suffered from similar issues according to HMRC – but with high profile brands involved in fashion it means it is much more likely to hit the headlines.

Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, acknowledges that there are unethical and illegal working practices in the textile industry in Leicester, which prevents retailers from making more in the region.

“This is not just an issue for Leicester, but a national one.” he says. “However, in Leicester we want to make sure that we have the highest standards of employment; that workers are properly paid, well trained and work in safe environments. We want to support our factories to be the best they can and to set an example that others can follow.”

If everyone knows there are some wrong-doers out there, why aren’t they shutting them down?

As is often the case when so many different stakeholders are involved, no individual regulatory organisation has the power (or the resources) to take action. Unlike in the US where the equivalent of HMRC has the power to embargo goods if they are believed to have been made outside of the law, there is no such ruling in the UK.

Sadly it takes something bad to happen – such as a fire – for anyone to take action on the bad guys. That is why the meeting in Leicester was so ground-breaking, as finally it brought all of the key stakeholders together to come up with a plan to make things better.

What are the views of the manufacturers?

According Saeed Khilji, owner of Figure8Fashion, a garment manufacturer in Leicester and founder of The Textile Manufacturer Association of Leicestershire, retailers need to be paying an ethical price in order to avoid driving ethical manufacturers out of business.

Mr Khilji said that the Fast Forward initiative asked for factories to provide 40 hours a week contracts to their workers, but with no commitment from retailers it was impossible to keep staff in constant work. In his view, manufacturers in Leicester would all love to pay not only a minimum wage but a living wage, they just need some longer term commitments from retailers than most of them currently provide.

Buyers lacking an understanding of manufacturing and costings was also one of the reasons cited for creating issues. This is not surprising given that many buyers only have experience of working with overseas manufacturers and may never have stepped foot in a factory.

Jenny Holloway, owner of London garment manufacturer Fashion Enter, suggested that one of the ways that Leicester manufacturers could address the issue with wages would be to use her model of paying staff a performance related pay. Her great partnerships with retailers have been built on ‘open books and transparent costings’ and this model could be used in Leicester to overcome some of the issues around supplier/retailer relationships.

What are the plans going forward?

One suggestion is that a guiding coalition should be formed, with key stakeholders exchanging information and working together to overcome the current issues.

It’s too early to say what impact the meeting at City Hall may have on Leicester garment manufacturing going forward. What is revolutionary is that so many people actually came together to look at the issues and to find ways to address them.

With local manufacturing in such demand, now is definitely the time to return Leicester manufacturing to its heyday!

How much do you know about the wool industry and British wool? We bring you 10 amazing facts about British Wool and find out more about this unique fibre

British Wool stand at Meet the Manufacturer

British Wool stand at Meet the Manufacturer

Dispelling the myth that British Wool is only suitable for carpets

Bridgette Kelly from the British Wool is keen to dispel the myth that the fleece from our homegrown sheep breeds is unsuitable for anything other than carpets. In fact, it’s all a bit more complicated than that, as she explains…

“British wool is usually what we call ‘strong’ as it has quite a high micron. The best use of it is often for interior textiles, such as carpets, rugs and upholstery fabrics, but it’s also well-known for being used in tweed.”

“It depends on which breed the wool comes from and where that breed is located. The Northern & Scottish breeds, which produce the coarser yarn, are used for tweed and interior textiles, whereas the download breeds in Devon and Dorset produce a much softer wool and this is often used my hand spinners to produce yarn for clothing. The finest wool produced in the UK is from the Blue Faced Leicester.

“Weather and the geographical location of the flock also influence wool in terms of its quality and micron. For instance, if you are a Welsh mountain sheep your fleece is going to be strong and robust as it has responded to the harsh weather, whereas sheep on the Lowlands don’t need quite such strong fleece, so it is softer and finer and used for blankets and fabrics.”

British wool

British Wool is used in a huge variety of different products

 

10 facts about British wool

  1. Britain is one of the largest wool producers in the world, yielding nearly 22,000 tonnes per year
  2. Farmers receive up to £1.50 per kilo for their wool, a 300% increase on the price paid back in 2009
  3. There is only one farmer in the UK that produces Merino wool (a type of very fine fibre used for clothing). She is Lesley Prior of Bowmont UK
  4. There are 45,000 sheep farmers in the UK
  5. 34 million sheep reside in the British Isles
  6. Britain has more than 60 different breeds of sheep, 25 of which are rare breeds. That’s more than any other country in the world
  7. There are only two wool scourers left in the UK
  8. The British Wool Show is held yearly in Yorkshire and displays the products made by the many cottage industries and craft workers that produce wool products here
  9. It takes at least ten processes to get wool from sheep to cloth. They are shearing, grading, auction, scouring, carding, combing, spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing
  10. Companies such as Cherchbi, Romney Marsh Wool and Izzy Lane commit to using British wool from flock to finished product ensuring a truly 100% British wool product.

Who buys British wool?

So, how much British wool stays in the UK, and what percentage was exported? It appears that this is not an easy formula to calculate, as Bridgette explains:

“There is not a simple answer to this question because of how wool is sold in the UK.”

“The wools from a region will be collected from farmers and will go for grading. It is graded first by hand and eye and then put into a ‘type’. It is the types that are sold at auction – there are about 130 types of wool. The merchants that buy the wool fortnightly at auctions in Bradford will buy a ‘type’. Although the bidding is now done by a computerised system, they still have to physically go to the auction and bid.”

“The merchants trade the wool all over the world.  Between fifty and sixty percent goes to China, a market that has grown considerably over the last four or five years. The rest is bought by other countries, including the UK.”

“Because of many processes involved in getting wool from fleece to finished product, such as scouring (cleaning), spinning and weaving, very little British wool stays in the UK for the entire supply chain. It may be scoured and spun in China but then return back to the UK for weaving. At that point it is difficult to know what percentage of the wool included within the product has come from a British flock.”

“Some companies, such as Cherchbi who uses the Herdwick wool, are now choosing to buy from a certain flock and keep the whole supply chain in the UK. We’re also seeing more British wool being used for bed fillings and bedding now too.”

“British wool is not a fast fibre, it is a slow production” concludes Bridgette.

If you want to find out more about British yarn you may be interested in this article on 20 of The Best British Yarn Producers

British yarn producers

We’ve teamed up with contemporary menswear brand Realm and Empire to offer you the chance to win one of their knitted accessory sets.

This luxury prize contains a Realm and Empire Knitted Commando Beanie & Knitted Rib Scarf in a branded R+E gym bag – worth £100

Made from British Wool and Hand-crafted in Leicestershire – this chunky rib scarf and hat set will keep you toasty now that the weather has turned colder ❄️

To enter simply visit our Instagram page here

Enter our competition on Instagram to win a luxury baby sleeping bag from Superlove Merino

We’ve teamed up with baby and childrenswear brand Superlove Merino to offer you the chance to win one of their award-winning baby sleeping bags.

Natural and Luxurious, each sleeping bag is generously lined with 240gsm double knitted merino for optimal comfort and thanks to the unique power of merino wool, improved sleep quality all year round. The outer of the sleep bag is made from 100% Organic Cotton – natural, pure and cloud soft to snuggle into.

Superlove Merino baby sleeping bags can be worn from summer to deepest winter without the need for different tog value bags or the use of fillers or padding. Ideal for use in nursery temperatures ranging from 16 to 27°C. The winner will be able to choose from two prints and two sizes (0-2, 2-5 years).

To enter simply visit our Instagram page here

Going camping? We’ve got you covered. In our ultimate guide to British-made camping equipment.

We bring you our Top 20 of British-made products and accessories to make your camping trip as comfortable, stylish and enjoyable as possible. We just can’t guarantee you the weather!

Shackleton

Shackleton British camping

Shackleton men’s clothing

Shackleton offer mens clothing that is both stylish and durable, perfect if you want to look good whilst camping.

The All in One Company

The All in One Company

The All in One Company

If you are camping in the UK there is one thing for sure, the nights will get chilly. We wouldn’t dream of camping without our All in One Company onesies!

Alpkit

Alpkit Backpack British Camping

Alpkit Backpack – british camping equipment

Alpkit make technical clothing and equipment in their own UK factory. The brand was started by four friends with a love for the Alps and a knowledge of the kind of equipment they need for their pursuits.

Aquapac

 

Aquapac British Camping

Aquapac waterproof phone pouches

Aquapac has been a leading light in the waterproof bag world for well over 30 years now. Perfect for keeping your phone dry if the UK weather lets you down on your camping trip!

Bailey Caravans

Bailey British Caravans

Bailey Caravans

Bailey of Bristol are manufacturers of caravans and motorhomes in the UK.

Barefoot Caravans

Barefoot British Caravans

Barefoot Caravans

A modern classic with retro styling, Barefoot caravans will accommodate you in style wherever you dream of going.

Blue Diamond

UK manufacturer of effective cleaning solutions, caravan care products and convenient accessories.

Buffalo

Buffalo British Sleeping Bag

Buffalo Sleeping Bag – British equipment equipment

Outdoor clothing and sleeping bags for the serious outdoor activist.

Caranex

Caranex British Awning

Caranex Awning

A unique vehicle tent – a car annex – to exploit the space and convenience of your own vehicle.

Elddis

Elddis British Caravans

Elddis Caravans

A leading UK manufacturer of caravans and motorhomes for some seriously luxurious camping.

Field Candy

Field Candy Tent

Field Candy Tent

FieldCandy is a brand of outdoor products created to add some stylish flair to the outdoor space. Their range includes a variety of printed tents and event matching ponchos!

Romney’s Kendal Cake

Romneys’ have been making their world famous Mint Cake in the heart of Kendal for 100 years. It is a popular choice of snack and energy for explorers and campers alike.

Lunar Caravans

Lunar British Caravans

Lunar Caravans

Lightweight caravans and luxury motorhomes made in the UK for over 50 years.

Mess Tins

MBritish Army mess tins manufactured in the UK. Perfect for eating your campsite-cooked meals!

Multimat

Multi MatMulitmat are makers of the world’s best sleeping mats for outdoor enthusiasts.

Terra Nova

Terra Nove British-made tent

Terra Nova Tent

Designer and Manufacturer of Outdoor clothing and equipment, including these fabulous tents.

The Ghillie Kettle Company

The Ghillie Kettle Company British camping

The Ghillie Kettle Company

The Ghillie Kettle has produced camping kettles for centuries and they still manufacture them in the age old traditional way.

 

Enter our competition on Instagram to WIN a pair of personalised Egyptian Cotton socks by Pantherella 

We’ve teamed up with Pantherella to give you the chance to win a pair of personalised Egyptian cotton socks.

The lucky winner can choose from 12 colours and then select up to 7 characters in gold or pewter stitching to go on the socks.

Pantherella have been making the world’s finest socks since 1937 from the most luxurious fibres. From their early beginnings in the hosiery business Pantherella has strived to be at the forefront of technology, innovation and designs that surpass even the highest of expectations.

All of Pantherella socks are still made in their family owned factory in Leicester by highly skilled craftspeople whom have passed their expertise down from generation to generation to help set Pantherella apart from other brands.

To enter simply visit this post on our Instagram page here.

Enter our competition on Instagram to win a beautiful pair of wedding shoes for a lucky bride-to-be

We’ve teamed up with Freed of London to give you the chance to win a pair of their hand-crafted wedding shoes.

When you step into a pair of Freed of London shoes, your feet will touch years of history, experience and expertise in making the finest handcrafted shoes.

Their experience in the world of dance ensures their shoes are engineered to bring you the utmost comfort and support on your special day.

Designed with exquisite details and made in England from the finest components, your will cherish your comfortable wedding shoes that were not only the perfect accessory to a memorable day, but a joy to wear; providing you with the comfort to stand all day and dance all night without the worry of tired feet.

The lucky bride-to-be can choose from one of three styles (Rose, Penny or Olivia) in off-white satin and a 2.5″ heel.

To enter simply visit this post on our Instagram page here

We recently interviewed Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion & Textile Association. Read the interview to find out how his organisation helps fashion brands and what they are doing to support UK manufacturers

Hi Adam, can you tell us a little about the UKFT and what your organisation does?

The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) is the leading network for fashion in the UK. We do a significant amount of work in business development for small fashion brands. We take 700 companies to overseas trade shows every year; help brands break into overseas markets such as Japan and the US; introduce them to the best buyers and retailers in those markets; help them understand the legalities to internationalise their websites and help with the technical aspects of building up a fashion brand. One of the things we also do for fashion brands is introduce them to UK manufacturers. We have a lot of manufacturers in membership, both garment and textiles. We help broker relationships, making sure that both sides understand the needs of the other one. We offer a very specific matchmaking service making sure that the manufacturer that we put the brand in contact with can actually work with that particular brand, whether it be a need for a small production run or specialist technical textiles for example.

You also have a database of manufacturers, can you tell us about that?

We have a free to use database at letsmakeithere.org. It includes around 350 manufacturers, everything from yarn spinners through to cut make and trim. It covers manufacturers from the very North of Scotland, down to Devon and Dorset. It’s got a huge range of manufacturers you can search for by category and specialism.

If I was starting a small fashion brand and wanted to find out about things like finance, would you be able to help with that?

Absolutely. You can either join us as a member or you can come along to our seminars. We run about 50 seminars every year, predominantly in our offices in Central London. They cover everything from how to prepare your business for finance to how to protect your intellectual property rights. We also do round tables on how to work with the Scandinavian market. There’s a huge amount of information that the UKFT supply to both members and non-members because we’re here to help the industry within the UK grow.

Can you tell me more about the manufacturers that the UKFT represents?

We have a number of different manufacturers in membership. We have about 20 in London, and we look after them as a specialist cluster because they have particular issues around premises needs, but we also have textile manufacturers elsewhere in the UK that are members, such as in Yorkshire and Scotland, and we help them through all sorts of different avenues. Some of it is linking with brands and retailers, but we also get heavily involved in environmental issues, so we’re helping big manufacturing companies reduce their carbon footprint.

How do you think Brexit is going to affect UK manufacturers and brands and how is the UKFT helping?

We are lobbying very hard with the government and the European Union to make sure they understand the needs of our industry. UK manufacturing has been growing for the past four or five years. We produce over £9 billion worth of product here in the UK and we employ over 105,000 people in manufacturing. One of the things that is driving that growth is the fantastic skill base that we bring in, predominantly to the cut make and trim manufacturers, from Eastern Europe. We need to make sure that the government understands that whatever immigration system comes in, it’s not just for the doctors and the lawyers, but also for the people that are actually driving the manufacturing economy in the UK and that includes those incredibly talented seamstresses and cutters. We’re also talking about tariffs, because although UK manufacturing will grow as a result of Brexit, the uncertainty about tariff rates means that retailers and brands are beginning to look at how we can we bring some of our manufacturing back to the UK. We need to make sure that the government understands that there is a skills need and that there is investment in UK manufacturing to make sure that there is the capacity to meet the needs of the retailers.

Occasionally there is some bad press about UK manufacturing, and there was one such article yesterday in The Times recently. Can you give me your thoughts on this?

The article in The Times had a chief executive from a leading retailer brand the vast majority of UK manufacturers as working unethically. I would absolutely 100% categorically refute that claim. There are some bad apples, as unfortunately there are some companies who completely flout the law. The UKFT utterly condemn those practices. However, there are absolutely fantastic manufacturers in the UK who pay way above national minimum wage. The London manufacturers we work with mostly pay the London living wage, which is even higher. We have companies up in Scotland who have over 100 apprentices in their businesses. There are some wonderful businesses doing everything they can to raise the profile of UK manufacturing and it is completely wrong to condemn all of UK manufacturing by the disgusting practices of one or two.

adam mansell ukftIf someone wants to find out about a career in manufacturing how would you recommend they do that

You can get into manufacturing either through a degree route and then finding your local manufacturer, or through the apprenticeship route. I think if I had my time again I’d be looking at apprenticeships, you get you earn while you learn and get a whole range of fantastic skills. Most of it is learnt on the job, not in classes, you’re actually on the factory floor and there are apprenticeships in all different parts of manufacturing. One of the issues that we have is the huge disconnect of the perceived attractiveness of careers in manufacturing as opposed to careers in design. There’s around 15,000 people on fashion design courses in the UK, and they’re not all going to become the next Stella McCartney. What we need to do is make UK manufacturing a much more attractive career. At the Meet the Manufacturer event, we did an interview panel with three young people, all under the age of 30 and all of whom had chosen to work in manufacturing because they understood it was a long-term career where they could have a huge knowledge base and a huge number of skills. They absolutely love working in manufacturing and they love dealing with designers and solving problems.

Can young people contact you if they’re interested?

We can certainly help place young people into all sorts of different manufacturing careers. The easiest way to contact us is via our website at ukft.org.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a member of the UKFT click here.

Enter our competition on Instagram to win this stunning, high-neck black British-made swimsuit by swimwear brand To Dive For

british-made swimsuit

Simply go to our Instagram and follow the instructions to enter the competition.

You will need an Instagram account to take part. Closing date: 12th August at 11am. Entries received after the closing date will not be included in the prize draw.

*Competition is only open to UK residents. See our terms and conditions for full details.

Missed the competition? No problem, we have other competitions you can enter here

Recent figures show that UK exports of British-made products are at their highest for 7 years. If you are a British-made brand or UK manufacturer and you’re not exporting then you’re missing out.

exporting your British-made brand

11 Reasons why you should be exporting your British-made brand

The latest Purchasing Managers Index shows that exports of UK made products are increasing.

We’ve seen a big increase in overseas visitors to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016. Check out the graphs at the bottom of this post to see the growth in our visitors from the USA and Asia as evidence.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI August 2017

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI August 2017

If you’re a British-made brand and not taking advantage of this then you should be!

Here are our 11 reasons why all British-made brands should have an export strategy.

1. Overseas shoppers associate British products with quality There is data to prove that shoppers in other countries see British-made products as better quality. In fact, the Made in UK label is one of the most respected in the world.

2. British design is world-renowned You can capitalise on this by showing off your product’s design credentials overseas.

3. Different seasons around the world helps to sell seasonal product all year round If you sell a product such as swimwear exporting can help you sell to countries that are much sunnier than the UK. The same goes for cold weather products too.

4. Selling worldwide offers a much larger customer base to tap into The British Isles are relatively small – when you export the world is your oyster!

5. Having customers in different countries spreads your risk If all of your customers are in the UK and our economy goes down the toilet then you’ll still have overseas customers to sell your products to.

exporting British-made brand

Increase in visitors from the US to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016

6. You’ll sell more products Expanding your customer base you’ll sell more products which in turn means you can increase the size of the orders that you place with your manufacturer.

7. It could give you the edge over your competitors If your competitors are not already exporting then you can bet that they are thinking about it. You want to get your product to those all-important International buyers as soon as you can.

8. You can make more profit on each product Often selling to International markets can command higher ticket prices than selling at home. You are, after all, selling a luxury British-made product.

9. Exporting increases a product’s lifespan Most products have a certain amount of time that the customer is interested in buying them. By reaching out to new markets you’ll extend the longevity for each product as trends come and go in different countries.

10. You can describe your company as an ‘International Brand’ This puts your business into great company and in turn increases your brand profile.

11. Exporting helps the UK economy This one needs no explanation…

exporting british brand

Increase in visitors from Asia to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016

If you are looking to export then there are several places you can go for help such as the UKTI. The UK Fashion & Textile Association is also very useful if you are a fashion brand.

Below is a video of a talk by Paul Alger from the UKFT at our Make it British Forum in 2016. Full of lots of useful information about exporting a British-made fashion brand.

The following article appeared in Drapers Magazine, July 2017

A return of manufacturing to the UK was only a matter of time

Drapers July 2017

‘A return of manufacturing to the UK was only a matter of time’

As interest in reshoring grows, Make it British founder Kate Hills says retailers that really want to make it happen should invest in their own factories.

Clarks plans to open a brand new factory to bring its shoe production back to the UK may be considered a brave move, but to me it seems like a logical step that will pave the way for others to follow suit.

When I first had the idea for Make it British in 2008 it was apparent to me that brands and high street retailers would not be able to continue relying so heavily on the Far East to source clothing and textiles. A return of some manufacturing to the UK was only a matter of time.

Any buyer will have seen cost prices rise during the course of their career, and the weakness of sterling and exchange rate issues since the Brexit vote has compounded this difficult situation. Once all undue overheads have been stripped out of the supply chain, the only way for prices to go now is up.

Also take into account the fact that the growing Chinese middle class don’t want to buy product made in China anymore, while customers are becoming more savvy about ‘British brands’ that don’t actually make in Britain.

Together with an increasing interest in sustainable and transparent supply chains, and a demand for faster turnaround of product, makes UK manufacturing once more a very viable prospect.

Over the last few years I’ve had many conversations – with everyone from small start-ups to big retailers – UK sourcing. Everyone is looking for local factories so that they are no longer entirely reliant on overseas sourcing, especially since Brexit.

Not only does making in the UK protect against the unpredictability of exchange rates, but orders placed closer to the season help to ensure that a business is not holding unwanted stock. Fashion retailers such as Boohoo and ASOS react quickly to trends and customer demand, and they do that in part by manufacturing some of their product closer to home – Boohoo source 50% of its product from UK factories.

However, the big issue is that big sewing factories with rows and rows of machinists, like those in China, just don’t exist in the UK. The largest sewing factory here has probably no more than 150 machinists, and they make furniture covers not clothes. Finding skilled machinists is one of the biggest barriers to growth, and the training of staff is not going to happen over night.

When it comes to clothing factories, those with the most machinists are generally making exclusively for their own brand – for example, David Nieper and Barbour. Even those that once made exclusively for others, are now creating their own in-house brands, such as Private White V.C. in Manchester.

The solution for brands that want to resume volume manufacturing in the UK is to open their own factory. This cuts out the costs of intermediaries and allows them to put what they want on the production line, when they (and their customer) want it. It does of course mean a larger investment at the beginning, but will reap rewards in the long run.

Clarks has announced that they will be concentrating on making its Desert Boot at its new UK factory, which makes sense. Not only is it an iconic product worthy of a ‘made in Britain’ stamp, but manufacturing just one style of product simplifies the production line and improves factory efficiency.

The new Clarks factory will apparently be using robot-assisted technology, which negates the need for skilled labour, which in the UK is in such short supply. Automation has worked wonders for the UK car industry, where companies such as Toyota and Nissan use robots on the production line.

The use of state-of-the-art technology to make production efficient is something that is already working for some of the UK knitwear factories, as well as enabling cotton spinning to return to the UK at English Fine Cottons mill in Manchester.

Let’s not pretend that there is going to be a sudden influx of brands and retailers opening factories in the UK. Clarks have no doubt be planning this for a long time, and opening a factory on this scale is not opened overnight. However, what I hope that what it will do is give any of those businesses that are wondering how they are going to increase their UK manufacturing the courage to think that investing in their own factory could now be a viable option.

As Clarks announces plans for a factory to bring its shoe production back to the UK, we look at why and how other retailers and brands can follow suit

david nieper factory

The David Nieper factory in Alfreton is currently one of the largest in the UK

Shoemakers Clarks have announced that they will shortly be resuming the production of shoes in the UK by opening a brand new factory in Somerset. They last made shoes in the UK in 2006.

What has brought on the turnaround? And should others look at doing the same?

Since I first had the idea for Make it British in 2008 it was apparent to me that the British high street would not be able to continue sourcing everything from the Far East with the rate that prices were going up in China. Having been a buyer for some of the big store groups I had seen cost prices double in a decade. And I knew that once all undue overheads had been stripped out of the supply chain the only way for prices to go was up.

It knew that in the next ten or even twenty years, as the cost of overseas production continued to rise, that UK manufacturing would return. That’s why I set up Make it British in 2011, as a platform for supporting and promoting the manufacturing that we had left in the UK.

Since I launched Make it British I’ve had many conversations with big retailers right through to start-ups about their UK sourcing strategies. Everyone is looking for local factories so that they are no longer entirely reliant on overseas sourcing, especially since Brexit.  Not only does making in the UK protect against the unpredictability of foreign currency rates, but it also helps to ensure that a business is not holding loads of stock, as orders can be place closer to when your customer wants the product.

Fashion retailers such as ASOS and BooHoo have gone from strength to strength by making more in Britain. In fact, BooHoo source 50% of their product from UK factories.

However, the problem is that big sewing factories with rows and rows of machinists, like those in China, just don’t exist in the UK. The largest sewing factory here has probably no more than 150 machinists, and they make furniture covers not clothes! When it comes to clothing factories, those with the most machinists are generally making exclusively for their own brand, such as David Nieper and Barbour. And even those that once made exclusively for others, are now creating their own in-house brands, such as Private White V.C. in Manchester.

So what is the solution?

There are three aspects to what Clarks are doing that other retailers and brands should take note of…

  1. Open your own factory. Don’t look for one that already exists, because it most probably doesn’t. That’s why what Clarks is doing is spot on. They’ve realised that if they are to resume any volume manufacturing in the UK they need to own their own factory.  This cuts out the costs of intermediaries and means they can put what they want on the production line, when they (and their customer) want it. It does of course mean a larger investment at the beginning, but will pay reap rewards in the long run.
  2. Keep things simple. Clarks have announced that they will be concentrating on making their iconic desert boot in their new UK factory. They know that in order to set up a brand new factory and train up a whole team on the production line, it’s best to stick to one product at first. A variety of different styles would most likely require a host of different processes and machines. This would take a new team longer to learn and make production inefficient. Sticking to less styles that you know you can produce in high volumes simplifies production and makes a factory more efficient
  3. Use innovation to automate. As skilled labour is now in such short supply, one of the best ways that UK factories can set themselves up for the future is by investing in the latest technology. Automation has worked wonders for the UK car industry, where companies such as Toyota and Nissan use robots on the production line. Clarks will apparently use robot-assisted technology in their new factory in Somerset, and will employ technical managers to oversee production. This use of state-of-the-art technology to make production efficient is something that is already working for some of the UK knitwear factories, as well as enabling cotton spinning to return to the UK at English Fine Cottons.

Clarks have taken a brave move, and I hope that it will encourage others to follow suit. It takes courage to make such a big investment, but I think it will pay huge dividends in the end.

I believe that the current demand for UK manufacturing will only continue to rise.Click To Tweet

The growing Chinese middle class don’t want to buy product made in China anymore, and the customer is getting more savvy to ‘British brands’ that don’t actually make in Britain. That, together with an increasing interest in sustainable and transparent supply chains, and a demand for faster turnaround of product, makes UK manufacturing once more a very viable prospect.

Long may it continue!

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Find out why Justine turned her back on corporate life to launch her eponymous label. What were the challenges? and what tips would she give others planning to do the same?

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background prior to launching your own brand?

I went through the British design school system, first studying fashion and textiles at Leicester Polytechnic and then an MA in fashion at the Royal College of Art.

After leaving college in the 1980’s I worked in Italy for Fendi. I then wanted to come back to the UK, and found myself in the midst of the British high street designing lingerie for M&S, then on to Jigsaw and Laura Ashley.  I then got a job as the first ever designer for Boden. After that I joined LK Bennett, where I started the first in-house womenswear range and after 7 years there I went back to Boden and became their creative director.

What gave you the inspiration to take the leap from working for a company to starting your own brand?

When I turned 50 I realised that working for big companies I was becoming less involved with the creative side and the design, which is my main love. It got to the stage where I thought ‘it’s now or never’, so I took the leap.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Why did you decide to manufacture the collection in the UK?

All the companies that I have worked for, except Fendi, have a strong British heritage, and I am naturally attracted to that. I had worked on the British Icons collection for Boden, which sadly never got made in the UK, and whilst researching manufacturers for it I found that we still have some strong manufacturing here. I also wanted to put back into the industry. For me, it feels important that I am supporting something that has helped me throughout my career.

You sought advice from Kate (founder of Make it British) in the early days to help get your brand off the ground. How did you find her and how did she help you?

I Googled manufacturing in Britain and found Kate! I made an enquiry via the website and we got chatting and then I realised that we had both worked at M&S at a similar time. I used the contacts that she gave me to make my first samples and production orders.

Setting up my own brand has been so different to working for the big companies. One of the biggest differences has been placing orders for just a few pieces rather than hundreds.  And doing the whole thing yourself – it’s been like starting from scratch as you can’t use the contact book that you originally had. I feel like I have just come out of college again. It is much more like when I worked for Fendi, which was making very small order quantities when I was there. Working closely with pattern cutters and sample makers it feels like I have come full circle.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

What hurdles have faced since launching the business?

I never realised how hard launching a brand was going to be. Not making a profit for the first 2 or 3 years is hard. It’s a 7 day a week job – and you can’t afford staff! You find yourself multi-tasking doing things like social media or adding things to the website. Actually finding the time to design takes real determination.

What would be your top tips for another start-up brand that wants to make in the UK?

As a small company it’s important to work within the parameters of what we can make in the UK.

'As a small company it's important to work within the parameters of what we can make in the UK' Click To Tweet

That means designing really simple shapes and making the most of the fabric. This also helps with the cost.

You need to be realistic about your price points and work within the factory’s limitations. I see a lot of designers that don’t have the realisation of what everything costs to make in the UK, and who don’t bear in mind that a good factory needs to pay the minimum wage.

As a designer it is easy to get distracted, and think ‘I could do this, this or this’, but you need to keep really focused on what you set out to do in the first place. My advice would be to not try and do everything. Use your talents well and find someone else to do the rest. For instance, if you’re not good at tech then find someone that can help you.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

How has social media helped your business?

I find that Instagram is the best platform for me because it is so visual. I have started to write more content on each post, and having more of a conversation about the product, and people are engaging a lot more with that. I’m picking up sales because of this too.

For a start-up brand you have received a lot of press coverage. What is your secret to getting the attention of the press?

Persistence!!!! Whilst I had a list of press contacts from working at Boden and LK Bennett, when you are only making 10 pieces of something they aren’t really interested.

You have to remember that the press are busy people and they don’t have the time to research a small brand so you need to give them something on a plate. Something that you have really thought about and that reflects your brand. So I wrote the story for them, and spent some money on getting some lovely images taken, rather than just studio shots.

One bit of advice I always give to other designers is to not try not to compete with the big guys. Don’t make your press pack look too corporate. As I work from my kitchen table my press pack reflects that – I send a handwritten letter, wrapping it in string, and putting it in a stripy envelope to make it stand out, and also reflect the brand.

In this digital world you can get 100 emails a day but something through the post is really special and stands out from the crowd.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Where can people find you?

We are currently running a pop-up shop, which will become permanent soon. Increasingly I am becoming more passionate about helping other people who are going through the same journey. So there are three of us working together and we are also giving space to other designers. Mostly made in Britain, but not exclusively; the rule is that you have to have met the makers personally.

If you are selling product with a story and a price tag attached to it then it is important that the customers can feel it and try it on. The shop somehow makes it more ‘real life’ and I am getting much better sales from being out there.

The shop is at 99 Essex Road N1, Islington, London. 

Find Justine Tabak in the Make it British directory here, or on her own website and Instagram.

Justine was one of the speakers at our Make it British Forum. You can see the talk that she gave below. It’s full of loads more great tips from her about how to start  a womenswear brand made in the UK. 

Every year Make it British holds a trade show in London to bring together UK manufacturers with businesses that want to make their products in the UK. #MTM2017 was our fourth edition…here are the highlights.

Highlights from Meet the Manufacturer 2017Our 2017 show was the fourth edition and saw thousands of people from all over the country, as well as from as far away as America and Japan, flock to the Truman Brewery in East London.

This is a clear indication of the rising demand for UK manufacturing and makes us more enthusiastic than ever about manufacturing in the UK.

Here is Meet the Manufacturer 2017 in numbers….

50% More attendees than in 2016 – making for a packed house on both days

27 Countries were represented amongst our visitors, with every continent covered and International visitors double that of last year. Japanese and Scandinavian buyers were particularly keen on looking for UK manufacturers and British-made product at the show

1249 Delegates attended the free seminars over 2 days to learn more about partnerships, production and provenance in UK manufacturing.

43 British-made brands exhibited in our new Make it British brand hall, where there was a fantastic networking atmosphere amongst the Make it British members

41 Machines in action at the show – including sewing machines, heat-transfer printing, machine knitting, screen printing and leather embossing.

186 Glasses Three Choirs English sparkling wine, 200 Sipsmith gin with Fever Tree tonics and 408 bottles of Meantime beer were served at the evening reception courtesy of UK Fashion & Textile Association.

9 Dogs including two guide dogs and a dancing Maltese in a Union Jack coat

6 Sheep (of the multi-coloured kind) in the British Wool Sheepish Studio

1 Fire alarm! Caused by a random smoke machine being let off in a photo shoot taking place in on the floor above the show. It may have interrupted our Facebook Live broadcast at the time, but it didn’t dampen spirits at the show.

In this interview for the Manufacturing at Heart Podcast I talk about my previous career, and the tipping point that made me decide to give up my jet-setting job as a buyer and dedicate myself to supporting UK manufacturers.

Make it British Manufacturing at Heart Podcast

Click the image to hear the interview

Manufacturing at Heart is a weekly podcast which brings together manufacturing stories from across Europe. The show interviews CEOs, Ops People, Innovators, Academics and Journalists alike who all have one thing in common – they have Manufacturing at Heart!

I was delighted to be interviewed by Mark Redgrove for the podcast and be able to tell the story of why I founded Make it British.

In the interview I talk about my previous career as a designer and buyer for well known brands, and the tipping point that made me decide to give up my jet-setting job as a buyer and dedicate myself to supporting UK manufacturers.

We also cover what the advantages are of making in the UK versus overseas, and what I see as the potential for growth in British textile manufacturing.

I also explain why I decided to set up a trade show for UK manufacturers, and the challenges I faced in doing this having known nothing about running events when I founded the show!

If you’re currently in a corporate career and thinking that it’s time to do something different, but scared about taking the leap, then I hope some of what I say in the interview will help inspire you.

And if you are looking for manufacturers and want to make product in Britain, or want to network with businesses that are making in the UK, then why not join 5,000 others just like you and come to the show? More details here www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

You can listen to the interview on the Manufacturing at Heart Podcast here

Need some advice on making clothing in the UK? Pop into the ‘Meet the Expert’ drop-in clinic at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show and get your questions answered.

meet the expert

Top L-R: David Reay, Vic Rosenberg, Saumen Kar. Bottom L-R: Alison Lewey, Kate Hills, Daliah Simble

For people thinking about starting up or expanding a business, this year we have a brand new feature to at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show just for you.

In our new, dedicated Enterprise Hall we will have a team of experts on hand offering one-to-one practical advice and hands-on experience on different aspects of manufacturing and business development.

With nearly 150 years of manufacturing and product development experience between them , our expert team will be on-site at the event to answer questions on the hot topics of sourcing and production.

The Meet the Expert team includes:

  • David Reay, previously Manufacturing and Sourcing Director at J Barbour and Sons
  • Daliah Simble, previously of Roland Mouret, set up her own fashion consultancy in 2015
  • Alison Lewy MBE, founder of Fashion Angel and mentor and author of Design, Create, Sell – a guide to starting a fashion business
  • Vic Rosenberg, former MD of Puffa, with over 40 years experience in production and supply chains
  • Saumen Kar, director of London Ethnic, which helps designers in the early stages of their business by offering marketing and production services
  • Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, previously a designer and buyer for Burberry and M&S

This carefully-selected team of experts will be sharing their insights and practical advice in these free, drop-in sessions. We’re expecting this service to be very popular, so visitors will be able to book their slot on the day and will be invited to leave any unanswered questions with the panel, to be answered in one of our weekly Make it British Facebook Live sessions at a later date.

Meet the Manufacturer is proud to be the only sourcing event exclusively for British fashion, accessories and homeware.

Taking place on 24 and 25 May at The Old Truman Brewery, London, this year’s trade show will be the biggest and best yet with around 200 exhibitors.

New for 2017 are a series of free drop-in seminars, workshops and demonstrations connecting manufacturers of textiles, apparel and leather goods with buyers, designers and retailers looking to produce quality British-made products.

Also new this year is a British Brands Hall, giving creative businesses the opportunity to showcase their distinct and inspirational labels, including Marlborough of London, The English Mineral Make Up Company and Elizabeth Martin Tweed.

For more details and to register for a free ticket visit www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

We don’t think so, and we’ll show you why…

cost comparison making t shirt in UK versus overseas

You can’t compare apples to apples – buying clothing made overseas is not as cheap as you may think…

There is a myth that making clothing in the UK is much more expensive than manufacturing overseas. We’d like to dispel that myth and show you why that’s not the case, even on simple products such as T-shirts.

Let’s first start by looking at all of the different costs associated with making a good quality, branded T-shirt that retails for £25.

The average manufacturing cost for that T-shirt in the Far East, making a small quantity of a few hundred pieces, is around £4.24*. That price includes the fabric, cutting and stitching of the garment, labelling, pressing  and packing, and the factory overhead and margin.

The same T-shirt made in the UK is around £8.85. It’s seems like it’s more than double, but hear us out!

When clothing is made overseas there are several other costs that need to be taken into account before that product is ready to hit the shop floor.

Shipping and duty can be as much as £1.75  on a simple T-shirt, depending on the size of the order. And if the brand is buying through an agent they will take their cut too.

So now you get to a more likely cost of £7 for the Far Eastern-made T-shirt, compared to the £8.85 for the British one.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Retailers traditionally work on a profit margin of around 60% on a branded item when they sell it in their stores. A simple way to work that out is roughly double the wholesale cost plus VAT.

The problem is that retailers have to take into account the fact that not all of the product that they buy sells at full price.

The average sell-through (the amount sold at full price) on a fashion product is around 60%. High-fashion, seasonal colours and styles can have an even lower sell-through, especially when the buyer has had to predict the trends months in advance in order to place an order with a Chinese factory. And therein lies the problem.

With average order times from the Far East being around 12 weeks from when a buyer places an order, often the product sitting on the shelves is not what the customer wants to buy. So traditional retailers have to factor this into their pricing, with around 40% of clothing making no profit for them at all.

Having product available when a customer actually wants it is where sourcing locally comes into its own.

[bctt tweet=”Having product available when a customer wants it is where sourcing locally comes into its own” username=”makeitbritish”]

It’s why some of the fastest growing fashion retailers, such as ASOS and BooHoo, manufacture a large percentage of their clothing in the UK.

cost of making a t shirt in the UK

Making clothing in the UK means product can be made closer to when the customer wants it

Let’s assume that the average sell-through rate of a T-shirt which is bought within 4 weeks of going on sale is 80%. The wholesale price of the T-shirt may be higher, but if only 20% of the product goes in the sale then the retailer actually makes more profit.

It is not unheard of for UK-made brands to have a sell-through rate of 100%.

When they are selling online and able to gauge a reaction on the product via a channel such as Instagram they can literally make to order within a week. So every piece that they make sells at full price, because they have exactly what the customer wants…when they want it.

cost of making a t shirt in the far east

Clothing made overseas incurs many additional costs such as shipping and duty

This illustration doesn’t even include some of the other hidden costs of buying overseas, such as flights to the Far East to meet with the factory or courier bills for sending fit samples backwards and forwards until the product is correct?

One of the advantages to brands of making in the UK is that they can have close contact with the manufacturer, and hence can avoid costly sampling and production mistakes.

Simon Cook, MD of Discovery Knitting, who has been knitting quality fabrics for T-shirts in Leicestershire for over 30 years, told us:

I’ve heard of one brand who had to fit a T-shirt 17 times with a Chinese factory in order to get it right. At £54 a time for DHL to courier the sample over from the Far East that amounted to hundreds of pounds in sampling costs for just one T-shirt“.

Of course the price for making the T-shirt in the UK can vary massively according to so many different factors.

Simon Cook, who helped us to compile the figures for the cost price of the UK-made T-shirt, says that “£8.95 is the average price to make a small order of 150 T-Shirts in the UK, but this is based on an existing style. If there is a new pattern to be made and development work to be done then the brand will pay more”.

So how is the £8.95 cost of making a T-shirt in the UK broken down?

After speaking to different T-shirt manufacturers in the four main areas for jerseywear production in the UK (London, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester) to whom he supplies his fabric, Simon came up with the following breakdown of production costs for 150 short sleeve T-shirts:

Fabric – £3.15 100% Organic Combed Cotton Single Jersey dyed Optic white 170/175gsm using a metre of fabric per T-shirt and buying 90 metres of fabric from stock (which you can buy directly from the Discovery Knitting website here)

Cutting – 60p Based on cutting 150 T-shirts over 4 sizes – S/M/L/XL

Stitching – £4.00 Price per garment if it is a straightfoward style. Includes labour costs and factory overheads

Press, Trim and Kimble – 65p The cost for the final finishing and inspection of the T-shirt and the application of a swing tag.

Individual bag and barcode – 45p Packing the garment and getting it ready to go to stores

When you see it broken down like that, you can begin to understand how little profit UK manufacturers make compared to the retailers. Does that sound fair?

good joe t shirts

Good Joe don’t give the profits from their retailers to the big retailers – instead they donate garments to people in need

One way of getting the best value product for you money is to buy British-made directly from the brands and not from the retailers.

In the example that we have given, which we took from the ‘cost breakdown of a sample €29 T-shirt’ in the Fashion Revolution Zine, brands make very little margin. They will often be squeezed by retailers for the lowest possible price and have to cut their own profit in order to get in with the big stores. Traditionally they would try to double the cost price in order to set the wholesale price, but on highly competitive items such as T-shirts that may not be the case.

A good way for brands to get round this is to sell directly to the end consumer.

A great brand that sells T-shirts made in the UK is Good Joe. Not selling via retailers enables them to use the extra margin to give back to those less fortunate.

Margaret Church, the founder of Good Joe explains: “Selling directly to the consumer enables us not only to bring them great British quality at a lower price, but to fulfil our Buy One, Give One commitment. For every shirt purchased, we donate a new item of clothing here in the UK”.

Next time you complain about clothing being made in the UK being too expensive, stop and think about WHY that might be, and how by buying smarter you can change that perception.

Discovery Knitting stock a huge selection of knitted fabrics for making T-shirts and much more, all manufactured in their factory in Wigston, Leicestershire. To see the full range visit www.discoveryknitting.co.uk

http://www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

*Figures for production based on ‘Cost breakdown of a sample €29 T-Shirt’ by Fashion Revolution in their fantastic Zine – get hold of a copy here

With the ‘Made in UK’ label more in demand than ever before there has never been a better time for British-made brands. That’s why we’ve introduced a Brand Hall at our event.

Meet some of the brands that will be exhibiting at Meet the Manufacturer 2017.

If you’d like to register for a trade pass just follow this link.British Brands exhibiting in the Make it British hall at Meet the Manufacturer


Equi-Scuto

Equi-Scuto

Equi-Scuto

Equi-scuto are designers and creators of the finest leather equestrian leathergoods for clients – handcrafted in Yorkshire.

Alie Street

Alie Street

Alie Street

At Alie Street we give you the opportunity to feel confident and glamorous in impeccably made day dresses, red carpet gowns and wedding dresses.  Designed and made in Britain.

We are Rushworth

We are Rushworth

We are Rushworth design and manufacture knitwear in the Scottish Borders. Their range of accessories and tops for all the family are crafted using natural fibres which include lambswool, merino and cashmere.

Celtc & Co

Celtic & Co

Celtic & Co

Celtic & Co design and create enduring contemporary pieces using the finest natural fibres. They’ve been making sheepskin slippers, boots and accessories in Cornwall for nearly 27 years.

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne is a contemporary new luxury label designed exclusively for the petite woman. An opening capsule collection of smart, elegant and tailored clothes that can take you from desk to dinner.

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

100% Harris Tweed fashion designed by Elizabeth Martin, sourced, designed and hand made in Scotland. Invest in Elegance.

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose is a a multi-million pound fashion label specialising in maternity occasion and bridal wear.  Each Tiffany Rose dress has been lovingly designed and made in Britain.

The Throw Company

The Throw Company

The Throw Company

All of The Throw Company’s products are designed and hand made with loving care in their UK studio, using a wide choice of fabrics and colours, unique to the Throw Company and cruelty free.

Mirelle London

Mirelle

Mirelle london

Mirelle London is a British luxury handbags designer that specialises in creating bags made from the finest fabric and leather. All the Mirelle London bags are manufactured in Britain.

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar is a luxury versatile fashion collection which includes ready to wear scarves, skirts, tops and dresses with discreet neckline loops that allows for wearing as they are or paired with our scarves.

Good Joe

Good Joe

Good Joe

A socially conscious brand selling British made T-shirts and Polos for men. Each time you buy a Good Joe, they give a new item of clothing to someone in need in the UK.

Unibu

Unibu

Unibu

Unique British Underwear made to exacting standards entirely in the United Kingdom. Building on years of experience, Shirley Crisp created Unibu to offer great fit and quality.

Ruth Dent

Ruth Dent

Ruth Dent creates luxury silk scarves based on her own paintings.

Wild Things

Wild Things

Wild Things

Children’s fun play clothes for 6 months to 8 yrs. Handmade in Scotland.

Yarmo

Yarmo

Yarmo

Yarmo is a workwear factory brand made at Yarmouth Stores Limited in Norfolk, UK. The label is propelled by a significant following in Japan

London Tradition

London Tradition

London Tradition

Premium outerwear designer and manufacturer, specialising in British Duffle coats, Pea coats and Trench coats. Made only in England.

Isabella Queen

Isabella Queen

Isabella Queen

British luxury brand offering leather accessories handcrafted in London. Elegant structures with colour contrast, satin lining artwork representing London, designed in-house with British illustrators, designers and artists, are the hallmarks of the label.

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak – womenswear made in the British Isles.

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker is a British Menswear and Accessories brand. Specialising in silk Pocket Squares, Neck Ties, Scarves and Dressing Gowns. All products designed by Geoff and made by UK factories.

Luxac

Luxac

Luxac – The elegance of a handbag with the function of a rucksack

Draper of Glastonbury

Draper of Glastonbury specialise in luxurious natural products of sheepskin and leather

Sipahi Co

Sipahi & Co

Sipahi & Co

Sipahi & Co Eco-Luxury Leather Goods made exclusively with oak bark leather from the last remaining traditional British tannery of its kind. These belts age gracefully – like fine Bordeaux!

Bespoke British Pens

Bespoke British Pens

Bespoke British Pens

Luxury fountain pens made in Britain.

Meet the Manufacturer is a trade show organised by Make it British.

It is the only sourcing event exclusively for UK manufacturers and British-made brands. If you would like a trade ticket to attend please follow this link.

A recent survey has shown what we suspected all along, that the ‘made in UK’ label is one of the most highly prized amongst shoppers

made in uk ranked 4th

The survey of respected ‘Made in’ labels ranked Made in UK 4th out of 49 countries

In a recent global survey carried out by Statista, the UK was the 3rd highest ranked individual country for it’s ‘made in UK’ label. Only Germany and Switzerland came higher, whilst the ‘EU’ as a conglomeration of countries came in third.

The ‘Made in Country’ index ranks countries according to how positively a ‘made in…’ label is perceived respectively.

Over 43,000 people were interviewed across 53 different countries. They were asked to consider values such as quality, security standards, value for money, uniqueness, design, advanced technology, authenticity and sustainability.

The UK beat the likes of Italy (7th) and France (9th) and maybe not surprisingly China came in at the bottom at 49th.

This survey reiterates what Make it British has thought all along – that a Made in UK label is revered all over the world for its quality and provenance.

Made in UK does best

What does ‘made in the UK’ do best?

The survey went on to ask UK shoppers which products they thought their country made best.

Food came out top, with nearly half of the votes, whilst only 1 in 8 Brits rated their own consumer electronics as any good.

Despite the fact that shoes made in Britain are sought after all over the world, they received only 17% of their own country’s vote. Could this be due to the fact that consumer awareness of what actually is made in the UK is not as good as it could be?

Which products do YOU think ‘Made in UK’ does well? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

From self-taught to Royal Warrant Holder trained, we interview four fantastic hat makers to find out what inspires their British millinery.

Following last week’s feature on Top 20 British millinery brands we interview four hat makers who are members of Make it British.

Chloe Heywood British Milliner

Chloe Haywood: the lady herself wearing one of her hats.

How did you train to become a milliner?

Lady Sharma: My millinery skills were learnt from several award winning milliners and tutors from London, Cotswold, Loughborough and a worldwide tutor from Sydney, each of whom specialises in their niche material whether straw, felt, leather or thermoplastic.

I then further extended my education with a Royal Warrant Holder milliner who taught me traditional British millinery skills of measuring patterns, bias-cutting brims, finishing off wiring edges with invisible hand-stitching and more. These skills are what makes it so different from mass produced hats and machine stitched finishing.

Chloe Haywood: I’m self taught – my business started as a craft hobby using any materials I had at home to make small headpieces. My sustainable designs caught the eye of the press and stylists so I got bolder and started reblocking damaged hats into bigger designs using tips and tricks from other milliners, books and the internet. That collection went straight into Fenwick, Bond Street and sold out within weeks… Only then did I call myself a milliner.

Judy Bentinck: I trained for 2 days a week for 18 months with Rose Cory Royal Warrant Holder and Queen Mother’s milliner.

Maggie Mowbray: I originally trained in art and spent a large amount of time after I graduated working as an artist, sewing was something I have always done, which came naturally as a child. I think of millinery as the Venn diagram of the two! Back in 2010 I did a short felt hat making course which set me off on a journey for the next two years, pouring over old millinery techniques manuals and studying the construction of hats. Maggie Mowbray Millinery was established in 2012. I still strive to learn as many techniques as possible to add to my knowledge, I aim to make everything in house!

Lady Sharma British Milliner

Ladies Fedora by Lady Sharma.

What or who inspires your designs?

Lady Sharma: I find inspiration from daily life, whether I see it in landscape, nature and gardens, structures of buildings and interior design, or fashion catwalks. Usually I buy my materials first and collate them together before designing. When materials are laid out together, design ideas automatically flow in. However, what I sketch or design in mind often changes by the time I finish my piece! That is the beauty of millinery design and making, there is no set rule for each design, as long as it fits comfortably when worn, you can let your imagination run wild.

Chloe Haywood: Everything inspires me – music, sculpture, nature, colour and of course fashion.

Judy Bentinck: My inspiration is all around me, architecture, art, nature, colour, atmosphere, mathematics, texture, travel and so on…..

Maggie Mowbray: I take inspiration from lots of sources; art, architecture but mostly nature, I love natural forms and flowers, I spend time off in my garden, so botany always ends up playing a large part in my designs.

Judy Bentinck British Milliner

Judy Bentinck couture milliner, artist, tutor and author.

What do you enjoy most about being a British milliner?

Lady Sharma: The thing I enjoy most is being able to help others feel good and confident in wearing something I thoroughly enjoyed designing and creating. I love all hat events whether in the UK or internationally, and am amazed with all the photographs my customers send me from all over the world.

Chloe Haywood: There are so many elements of what I do that I love. There’s the creativity: designing and making the hats, prepping and styling the photoshoots, then I love the advertising / marketing side of the business, the social media buzz and then there’s the workshops. I run hen parties where ladies can make their own fascinator which are very enjoyable, let alone the corporate and educational workshops where I facilitate upcycling challenges, which is so rewarding.

Judy Bentinck: Millinery is a passion for me . I love the sculptural aspect of hatmaking. Hats conjure a mood or make a statement, express a personality and enhance an individual’s look or outfit.

Maggie Mowbray: I think British Millinery has a unique style; it’s elegant and structured and I think the style is recognisable as being British! We also have some great suppliers and block makers here in Britain.

Maggie Mowbray British Milliner

Stunning example of the Maggie Mowbray collection.

Finally, what has been the best thing about being a Make it British member?

Lady Sharma: Feeling proud to represent and promote a traditional British craftsmanship skill that has been on going for centuries.  Let’s continue Making it British!

Chloe Haywood: Ever since I joined Make it British I have had so many opportunities opened to me and the business. Lots of traffic from the website comes directly to my online shop which is fabulous, plus I’ve been nominated and won some awards off the back of me simply being listed with MIB. Make it British are very supportive of my work which is so valuable when you’re a small business and sometimes find work tough. I know if I have a query, I can contact Kate and the team, and they will give me the advice and reassurance I need.

Judy Bentinck: Being a Make it British member is important to me as British Millinery is renowned the world over and Make it British showcases and highlights the quality and professionalism of British made products.

Maggie Mowbray: I am really pleased to have been accepted by Make it British, they are really positive about promoting the Maggie Mowbray Millinery brand! You can find out more about each of our featured milliners by clicking on their name here: Chloe Haywood, Lady Sharma, Maggie Mowbray and Judy Bentinck.

Want to know more about millinery and hat making? Judy Bentinck has a fabulous book about designing and making hats and headpieces, which you can find here.

Setting up a British menswear brand is not without challenges, but quality rules over quantity, says Anthony & Brown founder Paul Brown

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Anthony & Brown was created?

I have a finance background. The passion for menswear fashion began while working for a company called Oliver Sweeney, who produce high end men’s shoes and menswear. 

Oliver Sweeney produced quite a lot of their products in Italy and they went through a difficult period when the value of the Pound to the Euro dropped significantly. This resulted in a take over and business relocation from Devon (my home area) to London. I was heavily involved in the takeover but declined the opportunity to continue in London due to other opportunities closer to home.  

This experience resulted in my passion for quality menswear and a desire to produce in the U.K.  Seeing Oliver Sweeney go through a difficult period made me keen to avoid uncontrollable pitiful’s such as currency fluctuations – hence producing from the United Kingdom whenever possible.

Anthony and BrownWhy did you decide to start your own brand and how did you go about launching it, who did you seek help from?

I had some success selling other brands online once I left Oliver Sweeney, this was mainly end of line stocks so I had no control of sizing and very little control of exact designs.  I wanted to produce a brand where I could have full control, and a brand that excited me and I would be proud to wear. 

I gained help from one of the old directors at Oliver Sweeney, who helped me to launch the brand via trade shows and online bloggers etc. 

Who is your target market for Anthony & Brown and what kind of research did you have to do to be sure there was the market for your garments?

My target audience is professional males ages 35-50, I researched by taking examples to trade shows and speaking to store owners and people in the industry. 

What have been your biggest challenges in starting the brand?

The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require.  Personal circumstances with illness of family members has also put a strain on the brand as it is a small team.

“The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require”

Why was it important for you to manufacture Anthony & Brown in the UK?

It is important to me to produce in the UK where possible as I believe strongly in quality over quantity. I would rather own one nice jumper that I am proud to be seen in than five jumpers which I don’t feel so good in.

I also love the fact that I can easily visit the factories and work alongside people who are passionate in their fields without language barriers.

anthony and brownWhat have been your biggest challenges in doing so?

One of the biggest challenges has been sourcing UK manufacturers for various items of clothing in the range.  Some items in  my range are made outside of the UK at the moment, however I am looking to make all future ranges in the UK and there are trade shows now which I will be attending to locate the best manufacturers for my brand.   (like our Meet the Manufacturer event Paul!) 

Can you tell us a bit about how you found your manufacturer? And why you chose them to work with?

I was introduced to my manufacturer by a sourcing agent I was using when I first started out.  I visited them and loved the quality of their product and how professional they were in their approach.

Anthony & Brown is already a popular brand and stocked in London, Hampshire and Devon, are there plans to expand to other stockists, or even have a dedicated store?

I am mainly working hard at increasing my online presence, gaining new customers and keeping my current customers happy. At some point in the future I would like to have a dedicated standalone store but that would not be for a while.

anthony and brownAnd how about the product range, it is already extensive and even includes some lovely dog accessories, what else might be in store in the future for Anthony & Brown fans? 

We are looking to bring in leather belts made from Oak bark leather. These belts are produced by the last tannery in the UK, who produce their leather using traditional methods which take up to 12 months per hide.

We are also looking to bring in a range of jumpers made from a merino wool and cashmere blend. 

The dog logo is a big part of your brand, tell us about the dog….

The dog logo is of my dog Penelope, she has a huge personality so it felt fitting to base the logo of the brand on her.  

She is coming up 6 now and has become a bit of a local celebrity, she is often spotted as being the dog from Anthony & Brown.

And finally, as one of our longstanding members what is the best thing for you about being a part of Make it British?

The best thing about being a member of Make it British has been that it is a very effective way to introduce my products to a lovely audience of people interested in supporting the country by buying British.

Kate and Lauren are very passionate about increasing awareness in British made products and are doing a great thing for the revival of the clothing industry in the UK.

You can find Anthony & Brown here and also at anthonyandbrown.co.uk

Despite sewing traditionally being seen as a ‘woman’s job’ there are still few women running sewing factories in the UK. On International Women’s Day we take a look at some of the inspiring women that are changing the face of garment manufacturing in Britain

sewing factories in the UKI received a call a while ago from a TV researcher asking if I could recommend any female sewing factory owners for a programme they were planning.

I know A LOT of sewing factories in the UK. I mean hundreds, if not thousands. And how many could I think of that were owned and run by women? It was less than a dozen. Which is disappointing when you consider that the vast majority of workers in sewing factories are women.

This low rate of women in top jobs in manufacturing reflects a survey carried out by EEF. They looked at the amount of women on the board of FTSE 100 manufacturing companies and found that the figure was 23%.

Yet I do think that the tide is turning.

This is in part due to the fact that as more small businesses look to manufacture in the UK, so they consider setting up their own small workshop to produce their products. It not only cuts out the cost of a manufacturers overheads, but also makes them the master of their own destiny.

Kate Holbrook Turtle Doves

Kate Holbrook, owner of Turtle Doves

Take for example Kate Holbrook, the founder of Turtle Doves. She set up her sewing studio three years ago and now has 30 people working for her, of which only two are men. Kate says of running her sewing factory,

“It may appear, from the outside, to be about the art of making things but I think that women make successful factory managers because it’s actually about communication and relationships above all and those are skills many women have.”

Kelly Dawson, co-founder of Dawson Denim

Kelly Dawson, co-founder of Dawson Denim

Another brand making it for themselves is Dawson Denim. Kelly Dawson runs a sewing workshop in Brighton with her husband Scott. Having worked in fashion for two decades Kelly could easily have chosen to outsource the manufacturing of her denim brand to a third party. But instead chose to make it all inhouse.

This personalised service means that her customers know the provenance of every garment that they buy from Dawson Denim, most of which has been made by her own fair hand.

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One-Company

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One-Company

Yet not all female factory owners go into the business because they have the sewing skills.

Kate Dawson, the founder of The All-in-One Company, set up her factory knowing nothing about garment production. She did so because she wanted to make a product that was bespoke to each customer, and realised that manufacturers were not keen on making orders of one! She now has a dedicated team of ladies working for her and is an inspiration to anyone who’s looking to make a unique product in Britain.

From my own experience of all the places that I have visited over the years, I do notice that women in sewing factories often run a tight ship. Manufacturing is, after all, all about managing people and timetables, something that women are very used to doing when they have to juggle the myriad of activities that modern children get up to after school.

Jenny Holloway, owner of Fashion Enter

Jenny Holloway, owner of Fashion Enter

“Manufacturing is so complicated but so rewarding,” says Jenny Holloway, the owner of Fashion Enter, a social enterprise factory which manufacturers for everyone from ASOS to M&S.

“I never set out to be a factory owner when I was a senior buyer for the Arcadia Group!  However now I am in this esteemed position I would never have it any other way – every day is different, every day is challenging and actually I now wonder how I was ever an effective Senior Buyer without knowing how to construct and cost a garment.”

But Jenny says that the path to running a successful sewing factory has not been easy. “Its taken 9 years to achieve the position of where I actually feel confident in all aspects of manufacturing but I am not arrogant enough to think that I could do this job without the wonderful team of the factory manager, production manager, QCs,  machinists and pressers.”

“I do think this is where woman have an advantage of being able to multi task, are not afraid to ask for advice and guidance when its required and actually just become so darn determined to make a job work.”

That hard work and determination have certainly paid off for Jenny. Today her factory has a leading status in the new Fast Forward audit, only two companies out of 360 have this accolade with ASOS.   

I hope that going forward we will see more and more woman taking the lead like those I’ve mentioned above, and start to set up or take over the running of sewing factories in the UK. It certainly seems like the modern woman has all the right skills for the job!

If you know of an inspiring woman running a manufacturing business in the UK in any sector then we’d love to feature them in a future article. Please leave just pop a mention of them  in the comments below

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