One of the best ways of finding suppliers and manufacturers is by attending a trade show. This can mean an investment of your time and money, so here we take a look at the five best sourcing shows for you to attend if you’re developing a made in UK brand.
Trade shows should be planned as a necessary part of your research if you’re at all serious about making in the UK.
Where product is concerned it’s essential to do business face-to-face as communicating in person will give you a better understanding of each others capabilities and requirements, which will underpin a solid foundation for a successful working relationship.
And seeing and handling samples and example products is a necessity to help you share your ideas and understand what the manufacturers and suppliers have offer to help you make the right decisions.
Plus, you get to network with lots of people in the industry all in one place!
You can read more about why you should attend a trade show here.
Here’s our list of five current sourcing trade shows you should visit if you are looking to produce clothing, accessories or homeware in the UK.
All of the shows are currently in London but don’t let that be a reason not to visit them if you’re based a long way away. A trade show really is worth the time invested.
15 – 16 January 2020 – Business Design Centre, London
Held twice yearly at the Business Design Centre in London, The London Textile Fair is the biggest of the UK fashion sourcing trade shows. Although there are very few UK mills at the show it is worth attending to find out more about fabrics and to see the huge breadth of different types that are available.
There are nearly 500 exhibitors at the show, displaying a huge range of different fabric types. You’ll have to look carefully to find the ones that make in the UK. Even if they are a British company it is always worth asking whether the cloth is actually woven or knitted here.
As well as fabrics you can also find a hall full of print designers, which may be useful if you are looking to add print to your product.
There is also a section for trims suppliers which includes items such as buttons, labels and buckles. As not all of these types of trims are readily available made in the UK you may need to look to a European supplier for certain items, such as zips with metal teeth, and this show will help you see the breadth of different trims available.
One to attend if: you are new to fabrics and want to scope out all of the different varieties available.
19 – 21 January 2020 – NEC, Birmingham
Printwear & Promotion LIVE! is dedicated to the UK garment decoration industry. The show includes workshops, seminars, advice from industry experts, and on stand demonstrations.
The exhibition is a launch pad for new equipment, while new garment lines and ranges from existing and new exhibitors will be showcased on stand.
The show is a great place to learn about print techniques and capabilities and see what the latest developments are in printing machinery.
Printwear & Promotion features around 150 stands from all sectors of the garment and product decoration market, although not many make in the UK.
One to attend if: you want to decorate some T-shirts and see what the latest techniques are. You may even end up buying a machine to do it yourself!
29 – 30 Jan 2020 – Victoria House, London
The Future Fabrics Expo showcases globally sourced sustainable & ethical fabrics and materials that are commercially available, and ethically and responsibly produced.
The show focuses on providing tools for a responsible fashion industry. Sourcing and curating materials with a lower environmental footprint and offering accessible and innovative sustainable solutions.
The show features mainly overseas fabric mills but is good for gathering information on sustainability. There are informative talks about the basics of sustainable sourcing and about the fundamental differences between sustainable and conventional materials.
One to attend if: sustainability is key to your brand and you want to learn about the newest developments in ethical fabrics and fibres
11 – 12 March 2020 – One Marylebone, London
The textile forum is a fabric sourcing show held twice a year in March and October.
Smaller than the other events listed, the textile Forum features around 100 high-end fabric and leather suppliers. Most of the fabrics are made in Europe but there are always a handful of UK-based mills and leather suppliers there.
Many of the mills specialise in supplying designers that want to order small quantities and some also supply from stock, which means they hold basic materials and sell off-the-shelf.
There are also a few manufacturers at the show in a new area dedicated to sampling and small production runs.
One to attend if: you’re looking for luxury fabrics in small quantities
17 – 18 March 2020 – Business Design Centre, London
The Make it British Live! trade show is the only sourcing trade show exclusively for UK manufacturers and suppliers. This means that every manufacturer that you find there can produce in the UK for you.
Suppliers include everything from materials such as fabric and leather, to manufacturers that make a broad variety of different clothing, accessories and homeware.
You will also discover trims suppliers, and fabric printers, as well as someone to produce your packaging and labels.
If you are just starting out, you can also find pattern-cutters and sample makers who can help you to turn your ideas into reality.
There are also machinery demonstrations at the show – perfect for if you decide to set up your own factory!
You will also learn about about the sustainable benefits of making locally through a series of talks on a range of topics related to manufacturing in the UK that run over both days of the show.
If you want to launch a British-made brand in 2020 Make it British Live! is a great place to start.
One to attend if: you want to source everything under one roof or you want to network with others to whom making locally is important
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