British fashion manufacturing having a revivalMonday, 27 February 2012
"There is something about made in England, it's not just Chinese visitors (who love British-made products), it's throughout continental Europe, America. It's just something we're gifted by, having Made in England," British Fashion Council Harold Tillman told Reuters.
Renewed interest in manufacturing high-quality specialist products has seen a growing number of British designers explore their local options and help to fund apprenticeships to keep the industry growing, a welcome change after 15 years of steady decline.
Leading brands, Burberry, Mulberry, Victoria Beckham and Tillman's own Aquascutum and Jaeger brands all use "Made in Britain" tags on their products.
And with high street giant, Philip Green, calling for support for British manufacturing at the end of last year, plenty seem to be following suit. Beyond Topshop, River Island is another high street mainstay bringing their work back to the UK.
Mulberry has pledged to keep at least 30 percent of its production in the UK, runs an award-winning apprenticeship scheme and recently announced plans to invest 2 million pounds to expand its factory in Somerset.
Likewise, Burberry runs an apprenticeship scheme at its Castleford factory in North Yorkshire where it manufactures all of its trench coats. The company says it seeks to retain its British connection and heritage, and currently employs 3,000 people in the UK, with two-thirds of products globally being made in Europe.
Designer Paul Smith thinks that fashion manufacturing in Britain also needs to be as modern as possible in terms of sampling clothes quickly and efficiently to be globally competitive, adding that change would be gradual. However it seems to be infiltrating down pretty quickly as London fashion week show newcomers such as Sophie Hulme and JW Anderson are producing all their clothes in the UK.
The British Fashion Council has also proposed that fashion graduates undertake mandatory placements with key manufacturers in Europe, and launched a report exploring what could be done to secure the future of British fashion.