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Best of Britannia’s push to nurture UK demand

There was a sense of steady optimism at the latest London edition of trade and consumer event Best of Britannia, as designers enjoyed an uplift in demand from international visitors.

Roughly 120 brands exhibited at the show, which ran from 12 to 13 October in its new venue at The Boiler House on London’s Brick Lane.

Best of Britannia co-founder Joe Pidgeon said the show’s challenge now is to encourage UK customers to see the value of British-made brands.

He said: “Our job is to get British customers to see products on the whole as they see produce at farmers’ markets. When we eat we’re thinking of what we put in our bodies, their provenance, and what ingredients they’re made of, but this isn’t down pat with clothing and footwear, and what we use outside of our bodies. That’s our challenge.”

He added that while the “doom and gloom of Brexit is there”, the weak pound and subsequent boost for brands that export their products has meant the “good outweighs the bad” for the time being.

Exhibitors praised footfall at the show, which recorded 2,500 visitors on its first day.

Luisa Loveday, founder and creative director of lingerie brand Loveday London, said: “It’s been great to see so many different customers here that are interested in British manufacturing. Demand for [products] made in the UK is so important to us.

“There have been a lot of overseas visitors in particular – many are just visiting London for the day. The show has been really good in terms of promoting our brand, particularly as people are starting to think about Christmas.”

Genevieve Sweeney, designer and founder of her namesake knitwear label, estimates that half of the brand’s sales are from the US and half from the UK, with the business’s “story and ethos” drawing customers globally.

But she noted the domestic side of the business is “definitely something we need to promote and support”, adding: “It’s [important to] promote British manufacturing and raise awareness of how many products are made in the UK.”

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