Being British has really never been more fashionable and with the latest surge of home-grown manufacturing, it appears that the long-awaited revival of the UK’s garment manufacturing industry is finally here.
Taking their cue from the history and heritage of Savile Row, more and more men’s tailoring brands are choosing to manufacture product within the UK rather than outsourcing to larger European or Asian factories.
For this week’s edition of Drapers we spoke to Northern Ireland shirt maker Smyth & Gibson who is seeking to treble the wholesale arm of its business in the next two years by branching into “high quality independent retailers”.
The 23-year-old company, based in Derry/Londonderry, currently produces 100 bespoke and 1,000 ready-to-wear shirts per week for luxury labels including JW Anderson, Thomas Pink and Victoria Beckham and is now looking to extend wholesale stockists of its own eponymous branded line.
Another shirt manufacturer setting up shop on home shores is White Hart London, named after the neighbouring Tottenham Hotspur grounds. The 50-strong team specialise in crafting contemporary casual shirts using machinery shipped over from Hong Kong and have recently signed a deal to produce shirts for high street favourite Ben Sherman. Womenswear brand Blonde + Ginger’s, whose spring 14 collection was made entirely in Llanbrynmair, mid Wales is also adding to the trend.
But if British manufacturing is to return in earnest, it is the volume players that have to be wooed. Corby-based factory The Clothing Works - formally Aquascutum’s base - is readying itself for orders with the likes of Marks & Spencer.
As more retailers roll out the union jacks and jump on British band wagon we must be mindful to preserve what the term ‘made in Britain’ actually means. If the name comes to be associated with anything less than products genuinely made domestically, the value it carries will diminish.