Denim manufacturing is set to return to the Welsh town of Cardigan, following an absence of almost 10 years.
David Hieatt, founder of ethical lifestyle brand Howies, has started new menswear brand The Hiut Denim Co (pronounced hi-ut, a combination of Hieatt and the word utility), which is set to launch at the end of this month.
Hieatt, who left Howies two years ago after the brand was bought by Timberland, said that he wanted to revive denim manufacturing in the 4,000-population coastal town.
“If you’re going to make denim in the UK, there isn’t really anywhere better to do it than Cardigan,” he said. “It used to have the biggest denim factory in Britain and when it closed down at the beginning of 2002 all the skilled workers remained in the town.
“I won’t be using the old factory building, we have our own premises overlooking Cardigan Bay, but I will be employing people who used to work in the old factory,” said Hieatt.
Initially, the factory will launch with just six employees including Hieatt, two grade-A machinists, a garment technician, a part-time pattern cutter and Hieatt’s business partner and wife Clare.
Hieatt also confirmed that he had a designer involved in the brand but would not be drawn on who this was.
This year, the rising cost of sourcing in the Far East and the demand for heritage has triggered a huge increase in orders for British factories. The spiralling costs of freight and the labour shortage in territories including China and India are making the UK manufacture of mid-market product a commercially viable option.
“If we don’t do this now, all the skills will have retired from the town. We need to get these people in now and use their skills and experience to train up future generations,” said Hieatt.
Hiut Denim will launch with two styles of jean retailing from £140, available to buy via www.hiut.co.uk by the end of October. The brand will roll out to high-end wholesale stockists for spring 12.