Tanya Dimitrova is a garment manufacturer based in London. Her studio provides pattern cutting, sampling and garment production for designers and high street retailers, with orders as low as one piece. We caught up with Tanya to find out more about her business.
Tanya, can you tell us a little about your background?
I started making clothes at the age of 16 when my mum, teacher by day, tailor by night, nurtured my love for fashion and helped me develop my pattern cutting and tailoring skills. This soon developed into a full-time position and I started accepting bespoke tailoring orders from private clients. This often included making bridal gowns and grooms wear for friends’ weddings.
On my arrival to the UK I studied at the London College of Fashion and further developed high-end garment manufacturing skills, whilst also working in the pattern cutting department at Karen Millen.
You manufacture garments for other people’s brands as well as for your own brand, Lluks London. Which came first?
It all started back in the 2000’s in a tiny studio in my flat with only one sewing machine and a cutting table. Today, we produce over 80 garments a week and our capacity is expanding as we are looking to hire more machinists. While I am the driving force, my manufacturing studio is supported by a highly skilled team of ten.
The same team helped me develop my own ready to wear collection, Lluks London, launched in early 2017. Our Lluks London showroom is a great addition to the premises as we now offer bespoke tailoring and bridal services to private clients interested in bespoke and unique pieces.
What drove you to launch your own brand? And can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?
I have always wanted to see smiles on client’s faces when they wear clothes I made. Manufacturing garments for designers meant I would very rarely meet the person wearing it.
We started advertising in local directories and soon discovered that there was the potential for the opening of a bespoke tailoring showroom where private clients could try on the ready-to-wear range or have their own ideas brought to life.
The inspiration behind the brand’s name, Lluks, comes from my love for skulls’ drawings. This word is simply spelt backwards and colours associated with skulls are reflected in my debut ready-to-wear collection.
What advice would you give designers who say it’s too expensive to make in the UK?
There are always pros and cons associated with manufacturing in the UK and abroad. While blue chip companies look for larger capacity factories, which the UK rarely has, it is an ideal starting point for smaller brands.
Being able to manufacture in the UK means greater control over the product testing process. Speaking one language helps to foster a better understanding of what the designer expects to find in a finished product.
We often get contacted by designers who initially sought to manufacture outside the UK, and it took them a year to realise that in the long term, it is better to be able to speak to a local manufacturer face to face, than book costly tickets to outsource in the Far East. Or spend hundreds of pounds on back-and-forth postage fees for incorrectly produced garments.
What is the minimum order you would take from a start up brand?
We accept orders from as little as one garment. This allows us and the client to get a feel of how our working relationship could develop in the future, and whether or not we are a good fit for each other. Our production MOQ (minimum order quantity) is equal to 5 pieces per style.
You are very good at using social media. What tips would you give other manufacturers looking to promote themselves in this way?
Social media is often underestimated by garment manufacturers. It is important to remember that most start-up brands look for inspiration nowhere else but social media channels. We assess, analyse and strategically develop our campaigns before investing. For us, it’s more about ‘How to make the most of social media’ rather than considering this a complete waste of money.
How do you think Brexit will affect your garment manufacturing business?
After the Brexit vote we have struggled to hire highly skilled staff. Most of our team have been trained in the EU and their contribution to UK garment manufacturing is enormous.
It would be useful to see graduates from sewing and pattern cutting courses coming into manufacturing. Unfortunately, almost all applications we receive today are from young designers or merchandise managers.
If you could give any tips to a manufacturer considering starting their own brand, what would it be?
Starting your own brand along with an already existing manufacturing business to look after is not easy. This turns into a 24/7 occupation and is very demanding. You may need to reconsider some aspects of your manufacturing business in order to find time for the more creative side of things. Memorising a deadline for a manufacturing client is easier than handling an appointments calendar for both private and trade clients. In today’s world, let technology become your best friend and think carefully before launching your own brand as it comes with its own challenges.