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'Ask Kate' Live Q&A – incl. made in Britain labelling, shirt making and event announcement

The week just gone saw the launch of our first ever ‘Ask Kate’ Q&A Live on Facebook. Don’t worry if you missed it as every week we’ll be publishing it here. This week we’re covering Made in Britain labelling, shirt making and British-made babywear

‘Ask Kate’ is your chance to pick the brains of Make it British founder Kate Hills on anything to do with buying British or UK manufacturing.

We’ve been gathering together questions that you’ve been asking either via this website (see chat box in bottom right hand corner) or to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Topics for our first Q&A included Made in Britain labelling, shirt manufacturing, and where to buy British-made babywear. We also announced a special new feature that we are adding to our upcoming Meet the Manufacturer event.

Click on the video above to see a recording of the Q&A or read the full transcript here:

Made in Britain labelling

The first question we’ve been asked a lot this week from several different people is about what justifies calling a product Made in Britain?

In the first example I had a lady contact me and she makes coats in the Far East and is adding on fur collars in the UK. She wanted to know whether by adding the fur collars in the UK she could label the coats as made in Britain.

There was someone else that enquired, who was buying accessories that were being made overseas, hats, bags, scarves etc, and then she was putting some finishing touches on them in the UK, polishing up the bags here, packing them here, and then sending them to her customers.She wanted to know whether she could label her accessories as Made in Britain as well.

And finally, we had a chap called Graham contact us who manufactures guitars. He buys some parts for the guitars overseas, and some of the parts he makes here himself. He assembles all those parts into guitars here in Britain. He want to know if he could say that his guitars were Made in Britain.

Let’s start by taking the first two examples.

The rule that I usually use is the one set by The Trading Descriptions Act of 1968.
The act covers country of origin labelling. It says the country of origin is determined by the place in which the last substantial change to the product took place.

The question to ask yourself is ‘has the product changed its end use in that country?’. If that is the country in which it changed its end use then that is the place where you would say it was made.

So in the example with the coats – the coat was made in China, it was then imported into the UK as a coat and it had a fur collar applied to it here; so it’s gone from being a coat to a coat with a fur collar. Some value has been added by putting the fur collar on, but technically it’s still a coat and it still has the same end use. So in that instance I don’t think you can call the product Made in Britain, you would have to call that product Made in China.

In the instance with the accessories, that is slightly different because she’s finishing them here. She is adding some details here like the coat lady, but she’s also packing them and labelling them here, does that constitute calling it Made in Britain? No, it can’t either, because those accessories are still the same product, the bag was a bag, became a bag in China and over here it became a decorated bag so in that instance you couldn’t call the product Made in Britain.

In the third example with our chap Graham with his guitars, he’s buying some of the parts from China, he could even be buying all the parts in China, he’s putting them all together here and he’s making his guitars. So in that instance the parts that he’s buying from China you couldn’t play a tune on, the guitar here you can, it’s a different end use and in that instance yes he can call his guitars Made in Britain.

I’d like to give the made in Britain guitars a shout out too – the business is called Fibonacci Guitars, so if you are looking for guitars made in Britain head over to Fibonacci Guitars and find them there.

Shirt Manufacturing in the UK

I’ve had quite a few enquiries this week about shirt making – one of which was quite specific – “Can you get a shirt made in Britain for under £15?”.

In order to answer this question I got in touch with some UK shirt manufacturers that I know to see what they had to say.

I knew the lovely chaps at Tower Garments in North London make casual shirts for several well-known brands, so I asked them what the cost price is for making a shirt.

Now this is a bit of a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question. The reason for that is obviously it can vary from shirt to shirt; is it a casual shirt? is it a formal shirt? what details are there on the shirt? does it have checks on it that the manufacturer has to match up? how many are you ordering?

How many you are ordering is probably one of the biggest questions that a manufacturer might ask and might base the price on. If you’re only buying a small amount and that’s running through the factory it doesn’t really give the machinist a chance to sort of get in their flow, but if they’re making several hundred it’s much more efficient for the factory to produce and they will give you a much better price.

Many factories in the UK will only give you a CMT price. Within the garment textile industry CMT stands for Cut Make and Trim – which means the factory will only cut and make the garment for you – you would have to source the fabric and the trimmings yourself. The factory told me that a CMT price would be in the region of £18 to £30 for a shirt to be manufactured.

Now that obviously doesn’t fit into this chap’s under £15 price, especially when you take into account that making a shirt can take between 1.5 and 1.75m of fabric depending on the width of the cloth and whether there are any checks or patterns to match up.

However, what I always say is that you have to factor in the true cost of making a shirt overseas, because you can’t really compare like for like until you’ve factored in your shipping costs, your duty costs, any communication issues that you might have with the factory, AND the fact that you’re not seeing the product until it turns up on your doorstep. At which point, if you’ve made 500 shirts (at least, if you are making them overseas) and when that product turns up it’s not as you expected, then it you could have wasted your money.

The good thing is that if you are making a product in a factory in the UK you can go and visit them and see the product as it goes through – that is one of the best advantages of making here. Money doesn’t buy that convenience, and the guarantee that you’ll get a good quality product.

Where can I buy babywear made in Britain?

The next thing I wanted to cover was a question about buying British made products.

In our Facebook Buy British community we’ve had lots of people asking where they can find certain products that are made in Britain. One of the hot topics this week is about babywear – Is there any babywear made in the UK?

So we put a little callout on our Instagram page, and asked people to recommend babywear that is made in Britain.

We then compiled the results into a Top 20 list of the best British babywear brands. There are some fantastic companies on there so do take a look.

Exciting new feature at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show

Finally I said I would have a little something to say to you at the end about a special feature that we’re introducing at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show.

This would be relevant to you if you’re a business that is manufacturing in the UK or wants to make in the UK.

Our trade show, which I set up three years ago, is a business-to-business event. For the first three years it’s been about helping people to find UK manufacturers to make their products. This year we’re adding an extra hall at the show because we’ve had so many people that visit saying “I not only want to develop products made in the UK, I’d actually like to buy from some of these brands that are making in Britain too”.

So we’ve listened to your feedback and we are inviting a select amount of British-made brands to join us in this exciting new Make it British brand hall at Meet the Manufacturer this year on the 24th and 25th of May.

If you are a business would like to join us at our event please do get in touch, or fill out the form to apply to exhibit on the Meet the Manufacturer website.

Thank you for listening to our first ‘Ask Kate, Live Q&A’.

Please do share this with anyone that you think will find it useful. And if you have a question about buying British or UK manufacturing the please do send it to us either via the live chat on this website, via one of our social media channels, or by good old fashioned email using the contact form on this site.

And don’t forget to tune in to our live Q&A every Thursday at 1pm on our Facebook page.


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