The social enterprise is opening stores and expanding its womenswear offer.
Community Clothing, the project spearheaded by menswear designer Patrick Grant, is aiming to stimulate demand for UK-made clothes by opening more stores and expanding womenswear, as well as through growth online.
The company’s philosophy is to make use of factories’ spare capacity during seasonal lulls and provide extra work to fill the gaps. Community Clothing opened its first store on Lord Street in Blackburn on 21 October in a Victorian cotton storage warehouse, after launching on eBay in September.
“We’d like a physical presence in all of the areas where we manufacture,” said Community Clothing chief executive Lucy Clayton, a former advertising executive who joined Community Clothing in September.
“We are currently working with seven factories and that list is expanding all the time. Now that the story and our ethos is out there, we have had factories approaching us with the same issue – that production is not consistent throughout the year. We will have a few new ones coming on board shortly.”
Grant launched a crowdfunding campaign to start the firm on Kickstarter in February. It raised just over £88,600 by the time it ended in mid-March.
In May Cookson & Clegg, a separate Blackburn-based supplier he bought a year earlier, was forced to close after a major customer withdrew its business. The factory reopened on a smaller scale shortly afterwards and is now a supplier to Community Clothing, among other brands.
“The closure of Cookson & Clegg was a testament to just how hard it can be,” said Clayton.
Community Clothing is characterised by a pared-back, unisex aesthetic and uses the same fabrics across numerous lines to enable “a really high quality product for an amazing price”. The collection ranges in price from £15 for jersey T-shirts to £130 for outerwear items.
The firm is adding new styles specifically designed for women and will launch a transactional site before Christmas. It is also planning a pop-up store in London at an undisclosed date.