If the fashion industry is to make a return to British manufacturing a reality, investment is desperately needed.
If the fashion industry is to make a return to British manufacturing a reality, investment is desperately needed. To get factories up to scratch, they require investment in technology, as well as premises, for them to expand. It is vital to make this side of the industry sexy again to school leavers and fashion school graduates so they have a real career option.
While there are apprenticeships out there, these do not go deep enough into manufacturing.
Apprenticeship schemes must be developed to focus on manufacturing training for between three and five years and should offer a guaranteed job at the end of it. We need the Government’s support in making this a reality. We also need one unifying body that links our fragmented industry together to achieve this.
The job opportunities and spin-off roles to support this growth – such as engineers needed to maintain machines or stimulation of the textiles industry in fabric innovation and weaving – would be justification for such investment. Creating an industry with a lower carbon footprint also makes investment worthwhile.
None of us are advocating a return to the scale of 1970s and 1980s levels of UK production, but we have now perhaps a window of opportunity that hasn’t been tangible for the past 20-plus years. The remaining factory base will disappear in the next 10 years if we don’t rally as an industry now. Many factory owners who survived these decades are now close to retirement with no one to hand over the reins to.
British manufacturing is no longer an idealistic hope for our industry. As we watch manufacturing prices rise in China and transportation costs soar, we are left with little choice but to invest now.
- Daliah Simble is head of sourcing and production at designer womenswear label Roland Mouret