UK-based textile and clothing manufacturers are calling for urgent support from government to help them capitalise on the rising demand for Made in Britain product.
Last week, research by the UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT) showed the number of companies manufacturing clothing and textiles in the UK is increasing, confirming the growing momentum of the Made in Britain movement.
Firms Drapers spoke to this week said demand was steadily rising. “We have seen around a 70% increase in enquiries over the last 18 months and we have been up 60% since the beginning of the year,” said Jenny Holloway, director of London-based Fashion Enter, which produces small-batch lots of mostly womenswear for Asos, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis.
Mike Cheema, general manager of Leicester-based Basic Premier, agreed: “Retailers have realised the human cost of buying low-priced goods from other countries,” he explained.
He added: “The Modern Slavery Act [introduced in 2015] has forced retailers to step back and examine their practices. It reinstates confidence in worker welfare and product quality, and should increase demand in the long run as consumers are becoming wiser to the issues.”
But he said the lack of skills in the UK is still a concern: “I could do with 60 or 70 more workers. I visit local colleges and schools and people are learning to design [retail products] but no one is learning how to physically construct them.
“Our city council knows all about this issue but requires funding and support from the central government to invest in young people, to give them the skills they need to fill these specialist jobs.”
An employee of Leicester-based knitwear designer and manufacturer Jack Masters knitwear also raised the issue of government support, arguing that ministers should step in and remove retailers’ ability to impose payment terms of up to 90 days.
“On average, it takes around six to eight weeks to manufacture an order for fast fashion customers. Add 90 days and you are looking at an average cycle of five months before businesses get paid.”