The Make it British Forum 2017, in association with the Manchester Fashion Institute, was packed full of debate, expert advice, shared stories and networking.
What does ‘Made in Britain’ mean?
A fantastic line-up of speakers and diverse delegates from established to start-up brands, manufacturers to students, led to a lively day, packed with information. The conversation throughout the day was positive with a collaborative and ‘can-do’ attitude.
We round up the key themes of the day and share some quotes from our expert speakers.
“British design is quality and innovation – it’s not just tweed!” – Mat Booth, Both Barrels Supply Co. Ltd.
“British brands have value, they’re seen as trustworthy and reliable. But, it all needs to start with a great product.” – Sara Prowse, Hotter Shoes
“Being ‘British-made’ means so much more than just saying you’re a British brand.’ Tracy Hawkins, English Fine Cottons
“Made in British means making from the environment around you and using your eccentricity – we have the ability to go against the grain.” – Bruce Montgomery, Menswear Consultant
“You need to be ‘British-plus’ that is made in Britain but have quality, innovation, functionality, sustainability, integrity.” – Mat Booth, Both Barrels Supply Co. Ltd.
“Integrity and transparency of the supply chain is why making in Britain is important to me.” Isabelle Ugochukwu, Isabella Queen
What are the benefits of ‘Made in Britain’?
“By making in Britain I can understand the supply chain and make the business transparent. You can sit round the table and have the conversations you need to.” – Mat Booth, Both Barrels Supply Co. Ltd.
“Our UK factory gives us a competitive advantage – we are flexible and agile, able to chase the best sellers and adapt to customer demand.” – Sara Prowse, Hotter Shoes
“By making locally you will reduce your carbon footprint.” – Bruce Montgomery, Menswear Consultant
“Total control – that’s why we manufacture in the UK.” Charlotte Meek, The Stitch Society
“We can support the UK economy and strengthen skills by feeding the chain from the bottom – we can create new brands to create new jobs” – Mat Booth, Both Barrels Supply Co. Ltd.
“We have a modern industry and can produce a product that can compete with the rest of the world” – David Collinge, John Spencer Textiles
How do we make ‘Made in Britain’ successful?
“If we are to be succeed we need to lobby for Made in Britain to actually mean Made in Britain. We need to address labelling laws.” – Mike Stoll, Private White V.C.
“The key to fast fashion is to have garment makers on-hand. Manufactures need support from retailers to be able to re-shore garment manufacturing.” – David Collinge, John Spencer Textiles
“We may not all have welcomed a Brexit result, but we all need to be ready to make the most of it.” – Tracy Hawkins, English Fine Cottons
“As a factory we’ve developed our own brand to increase our productivity between orders.” – Anthony Green, Blackburn Yarn Dyers
“We need to develop manufacturing skills in schools and instil work ethic and pride in work.” – Mike Stoll, Private White V.C.
“It’s so important to educate people, to train people up in niche craftsmanship skills.” – Denise Pearson, Deni-Deni
“It’s getting harder to find skilled staff, Brexit is definitely having an effect” Tanya Dimitrova, Tanya Dimitrova Production and sampling.
“Working with a student placement is the most cost effective way of tapping into the latest tech, R&D and talents.” – Barbara Shepherd, Manchester Fashion Institute
How can you build your ‘made in Britain’ brand?
“Successful brands are those that stay relevant and connected. Couple that with a story of British heritage and you have a strong foundation.” – Sara Prowse, Hotter Shoes
“Do your research into factories to make sure you are approaching the ones that are appropriate for your brand.” Mike Stoll, Private White V.C.
“Build up a narrative and share it – transparency can work in a positive way.” – Bruce Montgomery, Menswear Consultant
“It’s Ok to not come from a fashion or design background, creativity, business and legal acumen is better.” – Isabelle Ugochukwu, Isabella Queen
“Have patience, take it slow.” – Charlotte Meek, The Stitch Society
“Customer care is as important as growth.” Denise Pearson, Deni-Deni
“Keep your integrity as a made in Britain brand. Ask people to support you – approach the right people and be genuine and honest.” – Ross Hoyland-Barr, Ross Barr
“Ask which other made in Britain brands will compliment you and consider which brands you see yourself sitting with. Collaborating and creating a ‘made in Britain’ group – that’s where it becomes attractive to buyers.” – Bruce Montgomery, Menswear Consultant
“Be professional at all times – reputation is key.” – Isabelle Ugochukwu, Isabella Queen
Make it British founder, Kate Hills, closed the conference by summarising the overarching message from the speakers and the delegate contributions – “Honesty, transparency, integrity and being true to yourself – that’s what makes a British brand.”