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London Fashion Week brings focus to British manufacturing

2012 seems to be the year that the fashion industry finally wakes up to the value of British manufacturing

Mulberry has received £2.5m to build a handbag factory in Somerset

Mulberry has received £2.5m to build a handbag factory in Somerset

With London Fashion week having just opened this weekend, there has been a welcome focus on British manufacturing. The Independent featured coverage yesterday of a speech made by Sir Philip Green at a British Fashion Week event in which he called for the industry to support manufacturing in the UK. Sir Philip argues that by bolstering domestic manufacturing the fashion industry will create jobs for young people and help to reduce unemployment.  He hopes to replicate the success of the Fashion Retail Academy within the manufacturing sector.

A similar story was covered in the Guardian which claims that the fashion industry accounts for 1.7% of UK GDP and supports 816,000 jobs. The reason cited for the upswing in British manufacturing is the rising cost of producing in China and the importance of speed to market that domestic production permits. The Guardian also mentions the £2.5m given to Mulberry from the government’s regional growth fund to build a handbag factory in Somerset which will create 250 jobs. Ed Vaisey, the minister for culture and creative industries, said that  ‘the fact that Mulberry can access that money is a reflection of the fact that the government acknowledges the role of fashion in our economy.’

Meanwhile the Telegraph featured the headline ‘Why made in Britain is the most fashionable label this season’    and quotes Anya Hindmarch as saying that Made in Britain has cachet again. The designer, who manufactures very little in the UK these days, says that she ‘witnessed first-hand the decline of accessories manufacture in Britain’ but now sees that it is beginning to come back.
We think that perhaps if British factories had not been abandoned by brands looking to make increased profits with the promise of cheap offshore manufacturing a decade or so ago then the industry would not have declined in the first place, but that’s another story.

What is beneficial about the focus that these articles, and other high profile media campaigns such as the imminent programme from Mary Portas,  are bringing to British manufacturing is that they start to raise questions in the consumers’ minds about where there clothes are made. If they then realise that the purchasing decisions they make can impact on jobs in the UK, then this has all been worthwhile.



  1. Kay Avery Stallion on February 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Finally the “Big Guns” are understanding and seeing what we little guys have been saying for at least 5 years. Training a new generation of MAKERS and commercial MNAUFACTURERS, in addition to all the designers will be the turning point – creating pleasureable manufacturing jobs for those of us that like to fill their day with creating something real rather than pushing digital “paper” around a depressing office, and offering REAL job prospects for those who feel university is currently the only root to go down despite it being unsuitable for many and too expensive for most.
    By encouraging UK based manufacture we can regenerate many towns and help retailer respond more quickly to trends without massive carbon footprints and shorter lead times. If we manufacture more in the Uk surely this helps retailers create a better buffer against other global market fluctuations too? Not to mention the savings in importation duty etc.. Bring it on – and soon!

  2. Sean on February 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I agree that finally they are opening their eyes and they are starting to train the right people and investing the money in the right places. London deserve it all as it really is one of the capital fashion cities in the world.

  3. Emily on March 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Philip Green talking about increasing British Manufacturing….seriously? Is it just me how sees the irony here?
    The British Fashion Week event which invited a group of designers (Anya Hindmarch etc) many of which do not manufacturer in the U.K and some of those who have only just started to. Why didn’t they invite companies that manufacturer seriously in the U.K and companies that have always done so? There lack of research is insulting.

  4. Onesie on April 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Generally I do not learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great article.

  5. Zenat on April 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I wish this kind of appeal for British manufacturing had been made earlier..in fact about 10 years ago when most Fashion manufacturing went abroad, and we ended up with the gradual throw away so called fashion on the high street.
    There is a lot of fashion design and manufacturing talent out there but it is not supported in employment,purely because they cant live on the wages or find long term employment anywhere. This case will only improve if the government continues to train the young in Design & Technology in Schools and puts some kind of limit on what can be sourced from abroad..eg quantity and quality. There needs to be a clear distinction and value to th British product again.
    Thank you Mary Portas for the programme about the Textile industry and bringing that Lingerie company alive again. Well done for bringing it to the attention of the many, and very inspiring it was too.

    Thanks to the author of this brilliant Website too, well done.

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