The British manufacturing industry will receive another shot in the arm next year with the opening of a shirting factory in West Yorkshire.
Hirst Shirts will open a 3,000 sq ft factory in Huddersfield in January.
The factory is being set up by Jonathan Hirst, who previously held consultancy roles at Tesco and heritage menswear brand Baracuta, and has also worked as a menswear buyer at value chains Mackays (now M&Co) and Matalan.
Hirst Shirts will produce garments encompassing the entire cut, make and trim process. Initially capacity will be 1,000 pieces a week, but that is expected to rise soon to 2,000 pieces.
Hirst said the factory’s main customers would be UK luxury and heritage brands, owing to the higher costs of manufacturing in the UK, and he is in talks with luxury brand Burberry. However, he added that he also hoped to make Hirst Shirts’ products accessible to top-end high street retailers.
The factory opening adds another string to the bow of Drapers’ ongoing Save Our Skills (SOS) campaign, which aims to promote and support UK manufacturing.
Retailers including Marks & Spencer and River Island have recently put fresh emphasis on UK manufacturing by opting to produce some garments in this country, and Hirst felt this surge had come at the perfect time. “The stars, sun and moon seem to be aligned at the moment, with the rising cotton prices, the increases in labour costs in the Far East and consumers more concerned about food mile costs,” he said.
The factory will create 20 jobs and Hirst was hopeful that this would help to keep UK manufacturing skills alive. “Within the next couple of years there won’t be anyone who has a direct memory of our manufacturing industry,” he said. “We are very close to losing this skill.”