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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UK manufacturing and British-made brands in the news this week: The made in UK menswear brands at LFWM; Cotton spinning in Manchester; British ice-cream on the map; UKFT connects students with manufacturers, David Nieper’s vertical clothing business

 

Best of British: the London Fashion Week Men’s talents supporting UK manufacturing (The Telegraph)

Hot on the heels of our own Top 50 of British-made menswear, the Telegraph published a feature highlighting the brands at London Fashion Week Men’s that are supporting UK manufacturing. The article included John Smedley, Sunspel, Private White V.C, Lou Dalton and David Beckham’s Kent & Curwen, which only makes part of it’s collection in the UK.

David Beckham at the Private White V.C. factory


In a modest Tameside backstreet a re-purposed Victorian mill is spinning cotton once again (Manchester Evening News)

The story of how cotton spinning has returned to Manchester makes for a fascinating read in the Manchester Evening News.

“After spinning for nearly two years a total of £5.8m has been invested into English Fine Cottons. The firm produces between 16-20 tonnes of yarn a month and employs 40 staff.”

English Fine Cottons Man Eve News

Cotton spinning returning to the UK was featured in the Manchester Evening News


Putting British dairy farmers on the ice cream map (NFU Online)

If you like your ice cream, you’re going to love this. The National Farmers Union have produced a map to help connect the public with local dairy ice cream producers.  Discover top quality British dairy products as well as the stories behind each unique producer.

“We first recognised a couple of years ago that many of our dairy farmer members have diversified into producing their own ice cream and it would be a great idea to create a map to show exactly where the public can go to buy real, British, local ice cream. We now have over 60 producers on the map and throughout the summer months the British dairy ice cream map will continue to grow as more NFU members are added.”

NFU Ice Cream Map

NFU Ice Cream Map


‘Made It’ collections link students with manufacturers (Knitting Industry)

Knitting Industry magazine ran a feature on the UKFT’s ‘Made It’ project, which helps to link students with manufacturers and give them an understanding of the sourcing and production process.

“The result of these collaborations was on show at Make it British Live!, and the students were required to understand sourcing, costing, methods of communication and the importance of accuracy, problem solving and a good working relationship with their manufacturer.”

Made it Collections at Make it British Live

UKFT ‘Made It’ Collections at Make it British Live


The skills deficit is the biggest challenge to UK manufacturing – David Nieper MD interview (Just Style)

Read this Just Style interview with Christopher Nieper to understand how UK clothing manufacturing can work. His David Nieper business is almost entirely vertical, with over 85% value added in-house.

“Instead of buying the garment from a manufacturer we’re making the garment. And now we’re knitting the garment and cutting the garment – and soon we’re going to be printing the garment as well.”

Christopher Nieper, MD of David Nieper

Christopher Nieper, MD of David Nieper


Make in the UK and been featured in the news? Drop us a line and we’ll let you know how you can be included!

On 23 and 24 May we threw open the doors to the fifth edition of our trade show Make it British Live! and the first one with its new name. Here’s how it went…

Make it British Live!

Make it British Live! 2018 took place on 23 & 24 May at The Old Truman Brewery in London

About the event

Make it British Live! began in 2014 and was originally called Meet the Manufacturer.  The event prides itself on being the only sourcing event exclusively showcasing British manufacturers and producers.  The two-day event is held annually and includes a trade show with 200 exhibitors, as well as a conference, which this year we named the Symposium.

The 2018 show was definitely our busiest yet. By 3pm on the first day we had already had more people through the doors than we had for the whole first day the previous year. The weather helped as some good old British sunshine was beaming down on us, and even a sprinkling of rain in the morning of day two didn’t deter visitors.

Martin Lowe Roy's Boys

Sock manufacturer Martin Lowe of Roy’s Boys

The aim of the event

One of the issues with the UK manufacturing industry over the last couple of decades is that it has become fragmented after years of decline. One of the main aims of the show is to help halt that decline and bring the supply chain back together again. Feedback from our exhibitors and visitors is that one of the best things about the show is the networking opportunities that it offers…along with connecting with lots of customers, both old and new.

If you are a buyer or designer that wants to develop or sell British-made products then Make it British Live! aims to be your one-stop shop for finding everything that you need to make this happen.

For instance, if you were developing a range of menswear you would be able to find everything from the fabric suppliers, to pattern-cutters, graders, garment manufacturers and even packaging suppliers in order to make the collection possible. Or if you had a shop you would be able to find unique British-made products to stock in your store.

For the last five years the event has been predominantly fashion and textiles focused, but going forward we will be introducing more categories to the event, and would love your feedback on what else you would like to see at the show.

Where it was held

Make it British Live! 2018 took place at The Old Truman Brewery on East London’s Brick Lane. The event has been held at this venue since 2016 and over 90% of our visitors and exhibitors say that they love this location due to the vibrancy of the area and its destination as a fashion district.

The event has always been held in London, despite the fact that the majority of the manufacturers that attend come from further North. One of the reasons for this is the fact that many of the buyers that attend the show are based in London and it is a good central location for everyone to get to. But we’re not adverse to holding shows elsewhere going forward and we are currently looking at options for regional Make it British events.

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Who attended

The majority of visitors are from the UK, but we do have a growing number of International visitors at the show too. Attendees from as far afield as Malaysia, USA and Russia were spotted, as well as a good representation from Japan.

The show is becoming a magnet for businesses who look to the UK for luxury products, and it was great to see visitors from Walpole, Harrods, Jaguar Land Rover and the British Luxury Brand Group amongst those that attended.

There is always a good turnout of buyers from UK high street names, and this year was no exception, with teams from Boden, Jack Wills, John Lewis, Oasis, Top Shop and Urban Outfitters amongst those at the show. As well as dedicated online retailers such as ASOS and Finery.

Small businesses and start-ups were also warmly welcomed, and many of our exhibitors specialise in making lower minimum orders than overseas manufacturers might require. Several designers that show at London Fashion Week were also spotted.

Marlborough of England

Marlborough of England

Who exhibited

Exhibitors included manufacturers and brands making clothing, accessories, homeware and beauty. Many businesses were exhibiting at the show for the first time, including a blocked hat manufacturer, a yarn dyer, Britain’s only natural button makers, an holistic skincare brand and a saddlery company.

One thing lots of our visitors fed back to us about the show was what a friendly bunch all of our exhibitors were. They certainly all looked happy, even though they were on their feet for two whole days!

sustainability panel

The sustainability panel with Eric Musgrave, Lynn Wilson, Stephen Cawley and Charlie Ross

The Symposium

As well as a trade show, the event housed a conference, which we entitled the Make it British Live! Symposium. 25 speakers joined us from across the UK fashion and textile industry, and the debate was chaired by former  journalist Eric Musgrave.

Day one of the Symposium kicked off with an introduction from Eric followed by Simon Middleton of Blackshore talking about how to fund a British-made business.

That was followed up with a talk by Sam Morrison,  who bought the last remaining shirt factory in Derry – Smyth & Gibson. Then Jenny Holloway took to the stage with a rousing talk about what ethical garment production really means.

Two of British footwear’s supremos – William Church and Tim Little – were joined on a panel with the British Footwear Association’s John Saunders to talk the UK’s footwear industry. Then a very engaging discussion took place between Nigel Cabourn, Ian Maclean of John Smedley and Christian Robinson or Tiffany Rose, who had some great tips on how to export a British-made brand.

Nigel Cabourn and Eric Musgrave

Nigel Cabourn and Eric Musgrave

On day two of the Symposium lawyers Potter Clarkson held a very informative talk advising on IP and trademarking in the design industry, which was followed up with a very important discussion about apprenticeships and skills. The skills panel featured the UKFT’s skills and training manger, John West, as well as Vanessa Ayres from textile finishers WT Johnson. Vanessa brought with her two delightful apprentices who work at her mill and who are a great example of a successful apprenticeship programme.

The next talk saw Eric Musgrave in conversation with Simon Cotton and Allan Scott from Johnstons of Elgin, one of the oldest textile companies in the UK, who talked about how they were moving the brand into the 21st century. Followed by Alan Yentob, who has invested in two other heritage British brands – Corgi and Dents.

Sustainability was a hot topic at the show, and our panel discussion on the subject did not disappoint. Stephen Cawley, head of sustainability at John Lewis was joined by Charlie Ross from Offset Warehouse and Lynn Wilson of Circular Economy Wardrobe for a very lively debate. Finally Lectra wrapped up the day’s talks with a fascinating look at the ‘Future of the Cutting Room’.

The UKFT Manufacturing and Skills Exhibition

The UKFT Manufacturing and Skills Exhibition

The UKFT Manufacturing Skills Exhibition

As encouraging young people into the textile industry is such an important issue, we also partnered with the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) this year for a special skills exhibition at the show. Featuring within the exhibition was the results of a project called Made It which helped to improve the production and sourcing skills of the UK’s fashion graduates. Three student collections were on display from the winners of the project, which had been manufactured in conjunction with UK manufacturers John Smedley, Sour Grape and Discovery Knitting.

The Party

We always host a party for our exhibitors after the first day of the trade show to help them unwind and network. The guests dined on a BBQ and enjoyed a warm summer’s evening in the Truman Brewery’s courtyard. Along with gin and tonics and English sparkling wine, we served a beer called British Standard from JP Brew, which is made using only British ingredients. It went down exceptionally well!

Guests at the party enjoyed the JP Brew British Standard beer

 

The feedback

The reception to the event from exhibitors, visitors and press has been a very positive one, calling it our best show yet.

Fashion industry trade magazine Drapers wrote a great review, saying the event had won ethical fans thanks to the focus on sustainability and traceability across clothing supply chains, and there were some great tweets about the show which you can see below.

The countdown is on…and we hope you’re looking forward to Make it British Live! on 23 & 24 May as much as we are.

Cash's Labels

Cash’s Apparel Solutions are one of the new companies exhibiting at Make it British Live! this year

This year’s Make it British Live! event is going to be a corker, and I promise you it will be our best show yet.

Here are the details in facts and figures:

56 exhibitors are new for 2018

You will find many new and varied exhibitors at the show this year, displaying  a diverse range of fashion, accessory and homeware products. Amongst those new for 2018 we have a blocked hat manufacturer, a yarn dyer, Britain’s only natural button makers, an holistic skincare brand and a saddlery company.

Vanners silk weavers

Vanners are the oldest exhibitor at the show, having founded their silk weaving business in 1740

21 companies exhibiting are over a century old

Many of the companies are well over 100 years old, with two being founded in the 1700’s. When you hear that there are century-old firms that have never exhibited at a trade show before you realise just how much the industry needed a platform like this to promote what they do.

Lovegrove Essentials holistic skincare

Lovegrove Essentials are a mother and daughter company making holistic skincare

30% of exhibitors are family businesses

What other industry trade show could claim that nearly a third of its exhibitors were family businesses? Make it British Live! has mother and daughter, husband and wife, father and son, and brother and sister teams coming along.

David College John Spencer

David Collinge is MD of John Spencer, a sixth generation family business

28 are garment manufacturers

Whether you are looking for dresses, knitwear, sportswear or tailoring, there are companies at the show who will be able to make what you are looking for. Some are used to making volume orders and others are experienced in helping start-ups.

7 are machinery suppliers

Because we love to hear about new factories opening up we actively encourage machinery companies to come to the show. So this year we have sewing machines, leather machinery, printing equipment, knitting machines and even light boxes. If you are setting up a manufacturing plant of growing an existing one there will be people on hand to equip you.

SL Black Label

SL Black Label specialise in embroidery applications on hats

A whopping 35 manufacture some type of accessory

From bags to belts, to umbrellas and hip flask, and scarves  to socks, there will be a huge array of different type of accessories on offer at Make it British Live! Come and see some of them in action.

25 speakers on the Symposium stage with over 500 of manufacturing experience

Where else would you get 25 speakers in the room who between them have over 500 years of experience in manufacturing fashion and textile products in the UK? We’re talking businesses that have been through the highs and lows of making in the UK and have become more successful because of it. That type of knowledge and experience is priceless!

Make it British Live!

Whether you are a start-up brand or an established buyer, here are 9 great reasons why you will benefit from attending the Make it British Live! Symposium

reasons to attend Make it British Symposium

Investing the time and money in attending the talks at Make it British Live! will be well worth it – with 25 speakers lined-up over the two days there will be loads of valuable information to take away

1. You’ll understand what ethical garment production really means

There’s been a lot of talk about the ethical credentials of UK factories. Jenny Holloway has spent four years developing a completely transparent manufacturing system at her London based factory, which is one of the largest garment manufacturers in the UK.  Jenny will prove that it is possible to manufacturer on a large scale in the UK and still remain ethical and affordable.

2. You’ll find out the right (and wrong) ways to fund a British-made business

One of the speakers is fashion entrepreneur and brand-building specialist Simon Middleton.  Simon has successfully crowdfunded two businesses using Kickstarter and is now raising funds for his third brand Blackshore. He’ll be sharing his wisdom gained from his own experience of funding a British-made brand as well as warning you of the possible pitfalls.

3. You’ll learn how zero waste and sustainability fits into a UK supply chain

Zero waste and sustainability remain a hot topic in the fashion and textile industry. Evolving legislation and consumer demand for ethical products means that sustainability needs to be high on every brands agenda. Three industry experts, from very diverse parts of the sector,  will debate the topic with you at the symposium.  They are –  Stephen Cawley, Head of Sustainability at John Lewis, Charlie Ross, Founder of Offset Warehouse, and Dr Lynn Wilson, designer, researcher and circular economy expert.

4. You’ll find out how important export is to British-made businesses

Recent figures show UK exports of British-made goods are at their highest for seven years, and with surveys showing that international consumers are willing to pay up to 22% more for a product made in Britain – that’s a great opportunity that brands should be capitalising on. Learn more from our export panel comprising cult British designer, Nigel Cabourn, Ian Mclean, director at world famous knitwear manufacturer John Smedley and Christian Robinson director at Tiffany Rose, two times winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition for its significant growth in export sales.

 

5. You’ll clear up any confusion about trademarking your designs and intellectual property

Fast-fashion and the rise of design copy-cats is making protecting your intellectual property more essential than ever for the success of your business. Potter Clarkson, experts in law for the fashion and textile industry will be delivering an intellectual property masterclass to help you understand how to protect your design rights and handle trade marks.

 

6. You’ll learn how mass-customisation is changing the face of manufacturing

The modern world is a customisable world, with consumers wanting goods configured to their individual specifications.  What are the opportunities to implement this in the fashion industry? And how do you put it into operation? Digital technology experts, Lectra, will deliver a talk about the future of mass customisation in manufacturing and the impact it can have on your brand.

7. You’ll find out why investors are snapping up British businesses What have Robert Yentob, chairman at Dents and Corgi, Tim Little, owner of Genson, William Church of Cheaney Shoes and Sam Morrison director at Smyth & Gibson, the only surviving shirt factory in Derry, all got in common? They’ve all invested in heritage brands that manufacture in the UK. Find out why they did it and what they think the future holds for these brands long term.

8. You’ll learn how to collaborate with British-suppliers Working with a manufacturer is a partnership and one that requires commitment from both sides. Whether you’re a start-up business or a multi-national retailer there is no reason it can’t work for both parties. Shailina Parti and Lucia Wood will tell the story of how they collaborated with several specialist British suppliers for Jigsaw and helped bring provenance to the brand.

9. You’ll learn ways to address the skills gap in the industry 

How to attract young people intofashion manufacturing is one of the greatest challenges for anyone in UK textiles at the moment, and something that effects everyone. Without skilled staff, factories will be unable to keep up with the demand being placed on them, and securing local production will become harder and harder. Find out how this is being addressed by organisations such as the UKFT, and hear what is being done to address the skills gap.

I hope that the above has convinced you that it’s worth taking some time out of your business to attend the Symposium. There are just a limited number of tickets available, so if you are planning on attending make sure to book yours soon!

Book your ticket here.

If UK fashion manufacturing is to get the revival that it is looking for the skills issue needs to be addressed URGENTLY

Photo: Abraham Moon & Sons

A common concern amongst UK manufacturers that I talk to on a daily basis isn’t finding more customers at the moment, but finding enough skilled staff to keep up with the demand.

This is a wake-up call for the industry!

If we don’t invest in training the next generation, soon there will be no British fashion manufacturing businesses left.

Two thirds of UK manufacturers report that the average age of their workforce is over 40 and a key challenge is how to attract more young people into the industry. This is according to a recent Make it British poll we out of over 100 UK manufacturers in the fashion and textiles industry.

Yet how to attract young people into the industry is one of the toughest challenges that UK fashion manufacturers face when they are up against teachers who encourage design rather than making.

But the blame shouldn’t lie solely on education, manufacturers themselves don’t always help their own case in the way that they present themselves and I had some suggestions for resolving this in a previous article that I wrote.

Because skills and training is such a massive issue, I wanted to make sure that it was high on the agenda at Make it British Live!

So this year we are teaming up with the UKFT (UK Fashion and Textile Association)  to curate a manufacturing skills exhibition at our two-day event on 23 and 24 May at the Truman Brewery, London. This comes as the UKFT has appointed its first ever skills and training manager.

The exhibition will highlight the work being done to support a new generation of skilled talent to enable UK manufacturers to thrive and will include a skills consultation area with UKFT’s skills and training specialists.

A key feature will be the UKFT Made It project, which aims to improve the production and sourcing skills of the UK’s fashion graduates. UKFT’s Made It, supported by Marks and Spencer, brings together the artistry and skill within British manufacturing and the emerging design talent from UK universities, to create a working collaboration.

The pieces on show include the student’s British-made designs for the high street from Falmouth University, University of Leeds, Nottingham Trent University and University of Salford and manufactured by John Smedley, Discovery Knitting, Stoll GB and Sour Grape.

Alongside the exhibition and as part of its ongoing mission to bring industry and education closer together, the UKFT will launch its Academic Membership and the UKFT Masterclass series, which aim to improve the production and sourcing knowledge available through our academic institutions.

It is vital that our growing UK manufacturing sector has access to a pipeline of skilled talent. The exhibition will highlight the work that UKFT is undertaking to support businesses by bringing in a new stream of motivated employees, improve the image of the sector to new entrants and to provide flexible routes into a wide variety of job roles” says Adam Mansell, CEO, UKFT

The UK has some of the best designer graduates in the world and some of the most talented manufacturers – ‘Made It’ brings them together. The project helps to ensure the success of the next generation in understanding the business of fashion, which is a fundamental part of UKFT’s purpose and key whether you are developing a new brand, working with manufacturers or growing business overseas” adds Nigel Lugg, Chairman, UKFT

Now in its fifth year, Make it British Live! is the only 100% British sourcing event and includes a symposium and trade show with around 200 exhibitors.

www.makeitbritishlive.com

trade show

If you are a British-made brand or UK manufacturer and you’re not exporting then you’re missing out. Here’s why…

Nigel Cabourn, Tiffany Rose and John Smedley have all had great success with exporting their British-made brands

With recent figures showing that UK exports of British-made goods are at their highest for seven years, and surveys showing that International consumers believe products made in Britain to be of good quality, any brand making in the UK should be selling overseas. 

A recent survey by Barclays found that International consumers were willing to pay up to 22% more for a product made in Britain – that’s a great opportunity that brands should be capitalising on.

We’ve seen a big increase in overseas visitors to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016, particularly from the USA and Asia. 

At last year’s Make it British trade show there were 27 countries represented, with every continent covered and International visitors were double that of the previous year.  Japanese and Scandinavian buyers were particularly keen on looking for UK manufacturers and British-made products at the show.

Whilst around a third of UK fashion and textile manufacturers are exporting more than they were in 2016, there is a massive opportunity for growth as another third aren’t yet exporting, according to a survey of nearly 100 manufacturers from across the fashion and textile sector carried out by Make it British.

UK manufacturers now need to capitalise on this opportunity. 

There are numerous reasons why a British-made brand should have an export strategy, not least because overseas shoppers associate products made in Britain with quality.

Three brands that have used their Britishness to their advantage are heritage knitwear brand John Smedley, menswear designer Nigel Cabourn, and luxury maternity brand Tiffany Rose.

The Tiffany Rose maternity wear brand is a great example, having just won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for the second time in five years.  From humble beginnings – a kitchen table in Tiffany’s South London apartment and access to just £600 on a credit card – the business now turns over £3.1m and operates from its head office in Surrey, from where orders are shipped to 120 countries and over 100 boutiques.

Cult British designer Nigel Cabourn has worked in the industry for over 40 years.  He has a long history and close affinity with Japan and the brand has built a loyal following there since the 1980’s.  He opened his flagship store there in 2009 and there are now five Nigel Cabourn stores across Japan.  

John Smedley was founded in 1784, at the start of the Industrial Revolution, and is renowned throughout the world as a leader in the production of fine gauge knitwear products. Now 70% of their output is exported to over 35 countries worldwide and during that time the company has worked with some of the world’s leading designers from Margaret Howell to Paul Smith.

If you want to find out more about exporting a British-made brand, Ian Maclean, MD of John Smedley, Christian Robinson, director at Tiffany Rose, and Nigel Cabourn will all be panellists on a special discussion on exports taking place at the Make it British Live! Symposium on 23rd May.

To find out more and book a ticket to the event go to makeitbritishlive.com/symposium

Make It British Live!, the two-day event on 23 and 24 May, will exclusively showcase over 200 great British manufacturers and producers and will be packed full of useful information on how to export a British-made brand.

Your chance to WIN a Faux Fur Pom Button Collar from Helen Moore

Helen Moore Make it British

Helen Moore Faux Fur Collar

Helen Moore are designers and makers of luxury faux fur home and fashion accessories. Their fashion collections include hats, scarves, collars and outerwear. Their luxury home collection includes hot water bottles, cushions, throws and bean bags.

All of Helen Moore’s products are made in Devon in their own factory. Each item is cut, sewn, finished and despatched by them ensuring the highest quality at every step. They also offer a bespoke service helping you to achieve exactly what you want.

This is your chance to win a lovely soft collar in luxury faux fur, designed in a cross over style with a pom pom button. The wonderfully soft cloud collar is lined with flint velvet lustre and the winner can choose between the colours dove, cloud or blossom.

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize just answer this simple question:

Question:

What county is Helen Moore’s factory based in?

Competition now closed

To find out more about Helen Moore click here or visit them at www.helenmoore.com

If UK manufacturers started to charge what they were really worth then everyone would be better off…here’s why

UK manufacturers

If manufacturers have to lower their prices every season soon there won’t be any left

I received a call from a journalist the other day, trying to get a picture on WHY UK garment manufacturers in particular parts of the country, are known for their bad practices.

I said, the answer is simple, they are pushed by the buyers to try and achieve lower and lower cost prices that are in line with what the buyer might pay in China. And this is what is causing the problems.

Because, in order to keep their staff in work and cover their overheads, the manufacturer is forced to produce at the buyers requested low price, which really doesn’t even cover the factory’s costs.

The next season the buyer comes back and wants the product even cheaper.

But the manufacturer’s costs have increased due to factors outside of their control, such as minimum wage increases, rent and rate rises and raw material costs. They reluctantly give in to the buyers demands in order to keep their machinists in work.

The season after that, when the buyer goes back to place an order at yet another reduced cost, the manufacturer refuses. He says he can’t possibly go any lower.

The buyer then moves on to another manufacturer willing to do a ‘deal’. But, in order to make the product at the stupidly unrealistic price, he is forced to cut costs by not doing things ‘by the book’.

I’m not saying that either party is right or wrong. But, had the original manufacturer stuck by his guns in the first place and insisted on charging what he was worth, the whole situation might have been avoided. And had the buyer not pushed for unrealistic cost prices, but instead considered the other, non-cost-price related benefits of making in the UK manufacturer, such as shorter lead-times, greater transparency and easier communication, the whole situation could have been avoided.

The sad thing is that I have seen too many good manufacturers go out of business because they have cut prices so low that they can’t even pay the bills.

It is a similar situation with our Make it British Live! trade show which is now in its fifth year.

Every year our costs go up – this year the venue alone is costing £55,000 to hire.

With the average stand price below £1,000 that means that I have to sell 55 stands just to pay the venue. Let alone the security, insurance, furniture hire, stand builders, electricians and staff that we need to put the show on.

It’s just as well that most of my marketing for the show is done via the Make it British website, which attracts 125,000 visitors a month and is the main source of our event traffic, otherwise my promotional costs would be massive too!

Yet despite all these overheads, and the low stand prices, certain exhibitors will still leave it until the last minute to try and get a drastically reduced price on a stand.

If I gave in and agreed to it I know that the following year even more exhibitors would leave it to the last minute to book, thinking that they’d get a cheap price, and then there wouldn’t be a Make it British Live! show. Which would ruin all the good work put in by everyone so far, and do nothing to help achieve our aims of supporting UK manufacturers to grow their businesses!

What they also forget is that by using this tactic they miss out on the best location of stands that have been snapped up by those businesses that chose quality over price and booked first.

So I urge UK manufacturers not to budge on their prices either.

When you charge your true price you will naturally attract better customers.

In the case of a manufacturer – this is a buyer who values the fact that they can make in the UK for benefits such as shorter lead-times, greater transparency and easier communication, which in return leads to greater profitability for everyone, as this article I wrote before illustrates.

 

If you want to find out more about the show, either to visit or exhibit, then please click here.

Think we don’t make clothing or textiles in the UK anymore? Think again!

 
There was over £2bn worth of textiles produced in Britain last year…and that figure is growing.
 
My name is Kate Hills and I’m on a one-woman mission to save UK manufacturing.
 
After years as a buyer for big name brands I gave it all up to help support the textile manufacturing base that we have left in the UK.
 
I now help to connect UK manufacturers with buyers and designers looking to make their products locally.
 
Making in the UK means easier communication, greater transparency and faster lead-times. And in today’s economic climate it means less risk too.
 
If you are developing a product and you think that making in the UK is going to be too expensive then I urge you to think again.
 
Come and visit our trade show – Make it British Live! – and see for yourself the fantastic manufacturers and brands that we have that make in Britain 🇬🇧

Your chance to WIN a Memory Improvement Course from Memory Power

Memory Power Online Courses

Want to improve your Memory Power?

Memory Power is an online, interactive memory improvement programme for adults and children created by Jonathan Hancock.

Memory is central to everything you will ever do, so memory training is vital for personal development, and a key factor in mastering the most important life skills.

The innovative Memory Power courses will give you the confidence to take on any learning challenge. Students can develop essential study-skills for all exams. At work you can use your memory skills to boost your efficiency and confidence. And whatever you do in your free time and social life, a powerfully creative mind is a great tool for organising your plans, improving your communication and achieving more of your goals.

The winner will get to choose between a Memory Power course for 1 adult or child.

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize just answer this simple question:

Question:

Who created Memory Power?

Competition now closed

To find out more about Memory Power click here or visit their website – www.memorypower.org

Your chance to WIN an Arundell Cowhide Clutch from Hyde and Hare

British Brand Hyde and Hare

Win a beautiful Cowhide clutch bag from Hyde and Hare

Hyde & Hare – are a British-born, luxury lifestyle brand offering the finest cowhide bags and accessories. What makes them special as a company is not just their impeccably stylish, beautifully designed and affordably priced products, but the fact that each of their bags is completely unique. You won’t find another one like them anywhere!

With headquarters based near Cirencester in the Cotswolds, Hyde & Hare prides itself on its commitment to innovation, design and above all, superb craftsmanship. Great thought, care and attention to detail goes into every item they make down to the smallest parts, including their signature silver Hyde & Hare Lozenge recognisable as a trademark on all their products.

No outfit is complete without that thoughtful accessory, and with the stunning cowhide clutch from Hyde & Hare on hand the decision becomes effortless. Handcrafted in England from the very finest cowhide, each bag is unique, thanks to its hand-selected hide and one-of-a-kind patterning.

British prizes by Hyde and Hare

Hyde and Hare’s Arundell Cowhide Clutch Bag

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize just answer this simple question:

Question:

What town is Hyde & Hare’s headquaters based near?

Competition now closed

 

To find out more about Hyde & Hare click here or visit their website – www.hydeandhare.com

Answer: The UK Government seems to think that they are all better made elsewhere!

We once had a fantastic volume bicycle manufacturing industry in the UK.  Just think Rayleigh – they were ubiquitous in the 1970’s – who didn’t want one of their Choppers?

Whilst most bicycle manufacturing went overseas in the 1980’s there are still several quality British bicycle manufacturers in the UK, including Pashley. I have one of their bikes myself and it’s a fantastic example of UK manufacturing at its very best.

Bikes, Pashley, British-made

The Pashley Factory

London Mayor Sadiq Khan must think so too. When he came into power in 2016 the contract for the London street bikes (formerly known as ‘Boris Bikes’) was handed over to Pashley. The street-hire bikes have been made at their Startford-upon-Avon factory every since.

But whoever has awarded the contract for the street bikes in Birmingham obviously doesn’t feel quite the same way. They’ve given their contract to a German factory instead. Ironic when you consider that Pashley are based in the Midlands too. Maybe someone has failed to point out the advantages of procuring from a local company to the person responsible for Government procurement!

Maybe it was the same person that made the clever decision to award the contract for making the new post-Brexit blue passports to a French company? Although I am guessing they realised they cocked up there when the Daily Mail launched a petition calling for the British passports to be made by a UK manufacturer. A petition which received 2,000 signatures an hour because the UK public felt so strongly about it!

Manufacturing of the new UK passport will be done outside of the UK

At least one MP is standing up to it. When Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth noticed plates in the Houses of Parliament that didn’t have the renowned Stoke-on-Trent backstamp she questioned the UK Government’s procurement policy. Stoke-on-Trent-made plates are renowned the world over for their quality…so why weren’t the MP’s lunches being served on them? She called for a Parliamentary debate on public procurement, which has yet to happen.

Public sector procurement has done nothing to favour British-made products for a long while.

You just have to look at the cars that our police force drive (German made for the most part) or the uniforms that the British army wears (coming from as far afield as China). The fact is that we currently import about £57 billion more goods than we export.

This is partly due to the fact that EU procurement rules do not allow a country’s Government to favour its own products when tendering for a contract. However, one wonders what aspects are being taken into account when these contracts are awarded?

I suspect that it is cost price alone which has been the deciding factor in all three examples.

Which means that other aspects such as quality and product-longevity, jobs and sustainability, are not taken into account. Pashley’s general manager Steve Bell said that 10 new jobs could have been created at their factory if they’d got the Birmingham bike contract. That’s just one example of how, for the sake of a saving a few bob in the short term, the long term and wider economic impact is not taken into consideration.

If we are to start growing our UK manufacturing industry again everyone involved in some sort of buying or procurement decision needs to consider the TOTAL cost of a product and the wider impact of their choices.  Not just the initial cost price.

That includes not only those in Government responsible for procurement, but also YOU when you are out shopping and making your own purchasing decisions.

Remember – buy cheap and you buy twice!

What makes a fabric ethical? What does zero waste mean? What are the benefits of sourcing sustainable materials?  Ethical textiles expert, Charlie Ross, talks us through the world of sustainable fabrics.

With a Masters in menswear from the Royal College of Art, Charlie Ross was an experienced fashion designer determined to work only with ethically sourced raw materials and production. But, incorporating sustainable textiles and eco-friendly dyes into her collections proved to be a real challenge.

Taking matters into her own hands, she is now the founder and director of Offset Warehouse, a company which supplies eco fabrics and haberdashery, fulfilling both small and wholesale orders.

In this interview, Charlie outlines:

> The difference between sustainable and ethical fabrics.

> Alternatives to cotton and other ethical fabric choices.

> The benefits of zero waste to your bottom-line.

> How to find out more about manufacturing ethical textiles products.

This interview was recorded as part of The Make it British Show, a weekly Facebook live session broadcast every Thursday at 1pm on our Make it British Facebook page. 

Find out more about Offset Warehouse here.

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This year our Make it British Live! two-day symposium will be coordinated and anchored by renowned industry commentator Eric Musgrave.

Eric Musgrave Make it British Live!

Renowned industry commentator Eric Musgrave will chair the Make it British Live! Symposium in 2018 (Photo: Laura Lewis)

We are delighted to announce that Eric Musgrave will be chairing the Symposium at our Make it British Live! event on 23 & 24 May 2018

Since 1980, his journalistic career has seen Musgrave observe and analyse the entire pipeline of the fashion industry, from mill to high street and now to the internet.

Eric’s breadth of knowledge and his depth of contacts across the industry is unrivalled and I’m confident that his chairmanship of our seminar programme will bring out the best of the speakers and panellists.

Eric’s commitment to championing British manufacturing is well-known. While at UKFT in 2010 he established the Let’s Make It Here database, the first free-to-use listing of British makers and he has written regularly about British manufacturing for titles like Financial Times, Business Life and Jigsaw’s Style + Truth magazine.

We’re delighted that he has agreed to take on this important role this year.

A few words from Eric Musgrave about his involvement in the event…

“My view of domestic manufacturing is simple: use it or lose it. I was born and brought up in Leeds in the 1960s and 1970s, when it lost its position as men’s tailoring capital of the world, so I am aware of the market forces at work.

“For the past 10 years or so I have realised there are great gaps in knowledge about the industry. Important people in fashion retail trade, politicians and the general public often have no idea what is still made in the UK. In turn, the industry is not brilliant at promoting itself or, in some cases, in adapting to changing requirements of the market.

“I got to know Kate Hills when she was setting up her Make It British initiative in 2011 and I am so impressed with the way it has developed. The ‘live’ incarnation of the movement has been a very inspiring place to visit over the past five years, so I am delighted to join Kate for the fifth event under its new name of Make It British Live!.”

The two-day programme of seminars will bring together inspiring, informed and provocative people who are passionate about what they are talking about.

If you have any interest in UK manufacturing, as a designer, a maker, a retailer, an investor or a potential employee, you will find much to enjoy at Make It British Live! 2018 on 23 and 24 May at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London.

Alongside the seminars there will be over 200 exhibitors in the trade show and a series of workshops.

To register to attend go to Make it British Live!

Make it British Live!

Does the UK’s younger generation really not have the same work ethic as the older one? Or is it just that manufacturers are not presenting themselves in a way in which to attract them?

In this article I consider WHY manufacturers may be having trouble appealing to young people, and what they can do about it

When Make it British ran a survey in 2017 amongst UK textile manufacturers, 50% said that they were worried about the age of their current workforce. They gave us feedback such as “the UK’s younger generations don’t have the same work ethic as the older generations” and “it’s just not seen as an inspiring career for young people.”

But is this really true? Or do youngsters just have a different idea about what their working life should look like?

After all, companies such as Google don’t seem to have a problem attracting young people. They get over 2 million job applicants a year and the average age of their workforce is 30. Facebook’s is even younger at 28.

I’ve visited hundreds of UK factories since I started Make it British. In some of them the average age is well into the 50’s and 60’s, but in others at least half are under 30. I notice that the ones that do have a younger than average workforce, often have have several features in common.

Here are the four steps that I think manufacturers can take to help make themselves more appealing to the younger generation….

– Have a good presence on social media

Like it or not, social media is a part of everyone’s lives these days, especially the young – they use Snapchat and Instagram to communicate with each other, and You Tube as a search engine.

If a business has no social media presence, or worse still, a very dull and uninspiring one, on these channels then it’s not got to help dispel the myths that manufacturing is not a great place to work.

Behind-the-scenes photos on platforms such Instagram help give a potential employee an insight into what it’s really like to work for a company, and it’s probably going to be the first place they look when they want to find out more about you.

UK manufacturers need a good presence on social media to appeal to young peopleClick To Tweet

– Create a working environment that is a pleasure to work in

There is a culture within tech companies of turning the workplace into something more akin to a nursery than an office – bright colours, beanbags and even a slide rather than stairs from one floor to another (not kidding, I saw it with my own eyes when I visited the Moshi Monsters HQ a few years back).

Lots of UK manufacturers have had little money to invest in the upkeep of their premises over the last few decades, doing nothing to dispel the myth that manufacturing in the UK is a dying profession.  Yet many of the warehouse buildings that they are based in are the height of cool in a tech company. I’m not saying that manufacturers should start to install swings and slides into their factories to emulate them, but just having a lick of paint and a some great images on the walls can help.

– Have a website that reflects the quality of manufacturing

I’ve lost count of the amount of manufacturers that have said to me ‘I must get our website updated‘. Some of them still have sites that look like they were built just as the internet was invented! Or worse still, they don’t have one at all.

Just a simple website with some great photography will suffice. One that reflects the quality of British manufacturing and shows that the business is in the 21st Century.

– Turn a canteen into a cafe

I once got called shallow when I declared that all it takes to attract young people into a workplace is a decent coffee machine! But you have to remember that this is the generation that has grown up with a Starbucks on every corner. A vending machine with a cup of lukewarm tea is not going to cut the mustard.

The cafe at ASOS headquarters looks like a Soho eatery rather than a prison dining hall, so it’s probably no surprise that the average age of the staff there is under 30. Every manufacturer could take just a small leaf out of their book and make the breakout area in their factory a little more inviting… and a decent coffee machine should be top of their list of equipment purchases if they want to attract young people into manufacturing!

 

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If you’re thinking of skipping it this year, here’s why you shouldn’t!

In case you missed it…a few weeks ago I announced that I was changing the name of our Meet the Manufacturer event to Make it British Live!

You can read the reasons behind the name change here.

And in just 3 months from now at 9am on the dot we will be opening the doors…

Our fifth trade show… and our first ever Make it British Live!

(Mark it in your diary now so you don’t forget)

We’ve had some great feedback on the name change, but also several people asking whether the show will be focusing less on manufacturers now.

The answer to that question is No, and Yes.

Make it British Live! will still be the only place that you can find all of the UK manufacturers that you need under one roof.

But it’s not just about finding manufacturers any more.

It’s also about a whole community of buyers, designers, students, retailers and manufacturers coming together to inspire, learn, network and support each other in their quest to make British manufacturing great again.

But no one ever said regenerating the UK textile industry was going to be easy.

Despite new factories and mills opening all the time, there is still a long way to go. The UK supply chain is still quite fragmented…which is why I set the show up in the first place. So that the industry could come together and meet face-to-face.

Someone told me yesterday that people don’t go to trade shows any more. They do business over the internet instead. Poppycock!

You can’t beat meeting people and doing business in person, which is why I wrote this article here:

Why you need to meet a manufacturer face-to-face

Our trade show is not just about visiting stands (of which we’ll have about 200 this year by the way)…but it’s about meeting people too. Other people that have the same passion for UK manufacturing as you do.

So if you were wondering whether you were going to bother coming down to the Truman Brewery in London on 23rd and 24th May this year, either because you aren’t specifically looking for a manufacturer at the moment, or because you think you can do all of your business online…please think again.

You have my personal guarantee that it will be worthwhile.

And just so you have some ‘skin in the game’ as they say, why not register now so that you commit to coming!

(and if you want to snap up one of those stands for your business, whether you are a UK manufacturer or British-made brand, click here and we’ll contact you with more details)

In an age where the majority of connections are made online, you still can’t beat doing business in person. Here’s why…

meet a manufacturer face to faceA lot of what I do is to help people find UK manufacturers to make their products – be that on a one-to-one basis or through our trade show.

Many of the connections that I help facilitate turn out to be successful, but it still amazes me the amount of designers, buyers and product developers that do not take the time to go and see a manufacturer before they try and place an order!

I know emails are very handy for quick correspondence, but in these days of digital communication there are still lots of advantages to doing business face-to-face, especially where product is concerned.

Here are 5 of the reasons I give as to why you should meet your manufacturer face-to-face…

Meeting someone in person aids communication.

There is little room for a lack of understanding or misinterpretation of ideas if you can meet with someone and discuss business when you are both able to look each other in the eye. It is even better if you can also show the manufacturer the type of product you want to make, and they can show you other things that they might have made previously that are similar.

It demonstrates that you mean business

If manufacturers receive hundreds of emails a week from prospective new customers and can only take on a limited amount of new business, why will they pick you? When you make the effort to go and meet someone face to face and explain what you are trying to achieve they are much more likely to see the potential in a future business partnership.

You can touch and feel the product and see the quality of their workmanship

We are, after all, talking about developing products here. There’s no point complaining about a first delivery coming back from a manufacturer and the quality being disappointing, if you have never seen anything that the factory has made before. Taking a few hours out of your busy day to browse the quality of craftsmanship coming out of the British Isles may reassure you as to why you may pay a little more to get something made here instead of overseas.

It can lead to some great collaborations

Who knows what might come out of a visit to a factory or trade show when you have the opportunity to network with others in a real life situation? Social media is great for virtual networking, but being in the same room as someone can’t be beaten. Ideas for new business opportunities often come about in the most unlikely of meetings, but you won’t find out about them unless you make the effort to go and see some people.

There may be things that you never thought possible

Who knows what you might discover when you actually take the time to look around and see what different manufacturers have to offer? There maybe products that you never knew could be made here. Or different manufacturing techniques that you hadn’t even heard of.

You won’t find many of these on the internet or in en email. So get yourself out there and go and meet some manufacturers!

MP demands to know why Parliament aren’t serving on plates made in Stoke-on-Trent

Should UK Government be buying British? When Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth noticed plates in the Houses of Parliament that didn’t have the renowned Stoke-on-Trent backstamp she questioned WHAT the UK Government were actually buying that was made in Britain.

Ms Smeeth requested figures from the House of Commons to find out what percentage of their crockery was UK made, and was appalled to find out that it was less than half. She was understandably aggrieved – Stoke-on-Trent still has some amazing pottery companies that could have supplied the goods, including Steelite and Moorland Pottery.

She has now called for a Parliamentary debate on public procurement after Brexit, to try and ensure that the Government commits to buying British.

At the moment EU ruling says that a country can’t favour it’s own products when buying goods and services. Hopefully with Brexit that will change

I was interviewed by Perry Spiller on BBC Radio Stoke to give my thoughts on the matter.

You can hear the interview below:

Should the UK Government buy British?


We’re looking for two amazing people to join our team – could it be you?

Despite what people might think, Make it British is run by a very, very small team.

Considering that we run a large trade show visited by 5,000 people, conferences for over 200, and a busy online portal with over 125,000 unique visitors a month, there’s still only full-time in the business making this happen (me, the founder), plus a team of freelancers and specialists who work on an as-needed basis.

However, I want Make it British to pride itself on offering amazing support to our members and exhibitors, as well as producing the very best content about making in the UK and buying British that we can.

So I need more people to join the team!

We’re currently looking for two people to join us on a part-time basis working remotely (in the UK obviously!)

Read on for more information about the two people that we’re looking for, and to find out how to apply…

Membership Co-ordinator We are looking for a Membership Co-ordinator to work remotely on a part-time basis to look after and support all of our lovely Make it British members.

This person will have responsibility for supporting and retaining current members as well as developing ideas to enlist new members.

This is a customer-facing role for someone who enjoys building relationships with people and loves great product – because you’re going to see a lot of it from our members!

You’ll need to be able to work under your own steam,  and be super-organised, and the sort of person who loves using systems and creating processes. Experience of using a CRM system and other digital tools would be very useful too.

To find out more about the Membership co-ordinator role click here and we’ll email you details.

Event Sales Executive

Make it British Live! is a two day business to business trade show and conference for the fashion and textiles sector held at The Old Truman Brewery in London.

We are looking for someone who enjoys selling to help with following up leads and closing sales for exhibition stands, sponsorship and advertising for the event in May 2018. This is predominantly a telesales role but it’s not cold-calling!

This is a fixed term position for three months with the flexibility of working from home with an immediate start. Ideally you’ll have previous experience working on event sales, but what you really need is great enthusiasm and a wonderful telephone manner 🙂

To find out more about the sales role click here and we’ll email you details.

If you know someone that might be interested in either of these roles please share this article. We’re looking to fill the positions by the beginning of March 2018.

 

 

Just months ahead of our fifth annual event we’ve taken the decision to rename the show…here’s why

In 2014 I set up a little trade show and conference called Meet the Manufacturer.

It came about because I saw a growing number of enquiries to the Make it British website from businesses looking to connect with UK fashion and textile manufacturers.

At the same time, the factories that I spoke to were still predominantly relying on word of mouth to find new customers. I realised that the industry really needed a trade event to bring them all together – and Meet the Manufacturer was born!

The first event took place in a small warehouse of 11,000 sqft at The Old Truman Brewery in East London.

56 exhibitors from across the industry took stands at the first show, and a two day conference programme for 250 delegates ran alongside.

Less than 5 months in the planning (would have preferred long but that’s another story altogether!) and not having held an event before, I was unsure how many people would actually turn up…

But I needn’t have worried.

The conference was a sell-out, and there were queues around the block as over 2000 visitors waited to get into the trade show!

Now in its fifth year, the event is held in a warehouse unit of 55,000 sqft at The Old Truman Brewery, over the road from where the first event took place.

More than 5,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors are expected in 2018, showing the increasing demand for making in the UK and buying British products.

The show attracts overseas visitors from 17 different countries, including Japan, Germany and Scandinavia, who come to the event looking for authentic British-made products to stock in their stores.

Now that the show is about more than just meeting manufacturers the name didn’t seem quite so appropriate. So I’ve taken the decision to rename the show to more accurately reflect our core values.

From now on the show will be called Make it British Live!

We pride ourselves on still being the ONLY 100% British sourcing event and I believe that our new name will connect the event even more closely with the other activities that we do at Make it British.

I’m confident that our rebrand will be the fanfare to attract even more progressive businesses looking to source locally and reshore their production back to the UK.

From garment manufacturing and textile mills to pattern cutters and trimming suppliers, Make it British Live! brings together all the UK manufacturers you need under one roof.

The event is also the place to go to discover a British brand, with a selection of creative businesses showcasing their distinct and inspirational labels.

Plus we will still have an packed two-day programme of talks with a line-up of inspiring speakers and informative workshops that reflect the diversity of the fashion, textiles and homeware industries.

More and more businesses in the UK are looking to manufacture locally and we’re seeing increased interest from overseas as more companies seek out brands with a made in Britain label.

For many years the fashion and textiles supply chain in this country has been fragmented, but Make it British Live! is all about bringing that supply chain back together!

Make it British Live! takes place on 23 and 24 May at The Old Truman Brewery, London.

For more information go to: makeitbritishlive.com

BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nihal Arthanayake asks “Is Made in Britain a label to be proud of?” in this interview live from the Grenson factory in Northampton.

Radio 5 Grenson Interview


Click the link above to listen to the interview

In this special edition of BBC Radio 5 Live’s afternoon show, presenter Nihal Arthanayake visits the famous Grenson footwear factory in Northampton.

At the factory he is joined by Grenson’s owner Tim Little, Adam Mansell CEO of UK Fashion & Textile Association and Kendall Robbins, Programme Manager for Fashion at the British Council.

Tim Little explains why he went from advertising to buying the Grenson shoe factory, which was founded in Northampton in 1866.

Kate Hills from Make it British is interviewed 24 minutes into the feature – hear her thoughts on what ‘made in Britain’ actually means and what the rules are surrounding its use.

We don't want to become a museum brand, we want to be a modern business, Tim Little, GrensonClick To Tweet

 

 

Find out how Ruth Dent went from working in IT to becoming an artist and then turning that art into a printed scarf business

How I started my printed scarf business with Ruth Dent


Have you ever thought about having a career change because you wanted to follow your passion? That’s exactly what Ruth Dent did, when she went from working in IT to becoming an artist.

In this interview Ruth explains what inspires her work and the process involved in turning her artwork into wearable pieces of art.

She talks you through the process involved in  turning a painting into a printed piece of fabric, using the silk printer she works with in Macclesfield. Find out how long the whole process takes from start to finish and the advantages of working with a manufacturer in the UK.

If you’re interested in starting your own printed textile business you’re going to find Ruth’s advice invaluable.

To find out more about Ruth go to ruthdent.com

Ruth has been a member of Make it British for several years and we were delighted when she offered to be our first interview for a series of live member interviews we’ll be doing at 1pm every Tuesday on Facebook.

If you want to find out more about how Make it British can help your British-made business click here.

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Are you looking for a UK garment manufacturer? Thinking of starting with a Google search to find a factory to make your clothing brand? Let me stop you right there.

A search engine is not a good place to start in pursuit of your ideal UK garment manufacturing partner, and here’s why…

UK garment manufacturer searchDo a Google search for a UK garment manufacturer, and this is what you’ll find.

Amongst the listings on page one of the search results there are; several manufacturers who actually produce overseas, an advert for a company encouraging you to manufacturer in Poland, and an article from The Guardian entitled ‘Fashion entrepreneurs: How to find a factory to make your products‘, which is out of date.

Some of the imposters require quite a bit of digging on their website to actually uncover where their production process takes place.

Take for instance the company that is at number one in Google at the time of writing. The title of the link says ‘ Clothing Manufacturer UK ‘and the description includes the term ‘ clothing manufacturers UK based service’. If you were looking for a UK clothing manufacturer you’d probably have every reason to think that this company could be a good bet. They even promise to be fast, affordable, quality and a low MOQ (minimum order quantity). If you were someone starting up a clothing brand using Google to start your search you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d struck gold with this one.

So you click on the link and see phrases such as UK based clothing manufacturers and UK clothing manufacturing services.

You have to really dig into the small print to find out that this company is not actually making the garments in the UK. Buried deep on their About page you will just about find a single mention of a network of factories based in the Baltic region of Europe. How very disappointing if you are wanting to manufacture your garments solely in the UK.This example is not unique – there are lots of businesses, for all different types of apparel and accessory manufacturing, that have a high ranking website on Google for search terms that include the words British and UK but who carry out the production overseas.

So how can you avoid getting hoodwinked by these imposters when trying to find a UK garment manufacturer?

For a start, always read the small print and be aware of phrases often used to deceive, such as ‘UK-based’ (they have an office here) or ‘designed in the UK’ (they have a designer here), or probably the most confusing ‘developed in the UK’ (they make the first prototype here). If you can’t determine from the website exactly where the production is being done, ask questions.’How many machinists do you have in the UK?’ and ‘Where is your factory based?’ will usually weed them out.

And of course, make sure that you go and visit them! One of the advantages of making in the UK is that your manufacturer is on your doorstep.

Looking for UK manufacturers? Our Make it British Live! trade show is the only 100% British sourcing event and has over 200 exhibitors making clothing, accessories, homeware and leathergoods. Details here.

If you’re looking for a UK manufacturer here are 3 things you need to know before you begin your search for one…

I get a lot of people contacting me at Make it British looking for a manufacturer to make garments or accessories for their brand. Often they are a start-up and have no experience of the fashion industry. They all ask the same question – can you find me a manufacturer to make my products in the UK?

Often they have a long list of different product types that they want to make – hoodies, caps, belts, trousers, backpacks – and would like to find one manufacturer that can make everything. I tell them that finding one manufacturer to make all of it is going to be impossible, and here’s why…

UK manufacturers are specialists in what they do

Let’s get this straight from the start – working with a UK manufacturer is going to be very different to outsourcing to an agent that works with overseas factories. In the case of the latter, you could brief them on all of the different product types in your range and they will go away and make it happen (at a cost). Whereas when you work directly with a UK manufacturer you will most probably need to work with a selection of different factories, depending on the type of products within your range.

For instance, a manufacturer may specialise in outerwear, which means they will only make coats. Or they will be a knitwear factory, in which case you are sorted if you want to make jumpers and cardigans. But even then they make not make childrens knitwear, or will only work with certain types of yarn.

You will also find that manufacturers who are specialists in making high-end products such as silk dresses are able to do so because they have skilled hand-stitchers on their production team, so you wouldn’t go to them if you wanted a pair of jeans made!

What a manufacturer can make is dictated by the machinery that they have

The types of machinery that a manufacturer has will dictate what they are able to make.

Say for instance you wanted to make activewear, you’re going to want a factory that has a coverstitch machine so that they can produce the type of flat seams that won’t rub when a garment is worn.

Similarly if it’s a woven garment with buttonholes you’re making you’ll need a manufacturer with a buttonhole machine. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to ask this question!

The same goes for shoes and accessories – the construction of a trainer requires different machinery to a Goodyear welted brogue. And a small leather workshop may not have the press machine to cut leather in bulk, which is fine if you are only making small quantities but when it comes to volume production you’re going to want something more automated.

When it comes to fabric there are different types of factory too. A weaver will make their fabric on a loom, producing a non-stretchy fabric such as cotton canvas or denim, whereas a warp knitter is the type of mill you’re looking for if you want T-shirt material.

By the way, if you want to find out a little bit more about the different types of machinery so that you sound knowledgable when you visit a manufacturer I’d highly recommend looking on the AE Sewing website. They list all of the different types of machines and tell you what they are used for.

Similarly, DCR Machines is a good place to start if you want to find out more about machinery for the leather industry.

Manufacturers have different MOQs

How many of each style you want to make is also an important consideration. If you’re a start-up and only want to produce a few of each style, you would be far better suited to a smaller manufacturing unit or workshop where they are used to working with low MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities). Even if you did manage to persuade a larger factory to squeeze you in, you may find that when a bigger order comes in from an existing client your work gets pushed to the back of the queue. Not because the manufacturer doesn’t value your business, but because trying to timetable a larger order can be more difficult than a slotting in a smaller one, so will often take precedence.

Similarly, if you want to make 1000 T-shirts there is no point in approaching a small fashion studio with only 2 machinists, because it will take a very long time for them to make a big order quantity. And they are probably not used to working at the speed required to produce high volume orders.

If you’re looking to find UK manufacturers then you may be interested in an online course we are launching very soon which will help you do just that. Click the image below and we’ll send you all the details when they become available.

Click here to find out more