Around 3,000 retailers, manufacturers and designers attended the second annual Meet the Manufacturer UK sourcing event in London last week.
The two-day trade show and conference, which ran from June 3-4 at Tobacco Dock, doubled in size for 2015 to include 100 exhibitors across clothing and accessories, all of whom manufacture in the UK.
They included outerwear manufacturer Lavenham, wax fabric specialist British Millerain and shirt manufacturer Drake’s.
Among the visitors were Alicia Bamford, founder of women’s cycle clothing brand Queen of the Mountains, which is due to launch early next year.
She said: “We’re currently manufacturing in Italy and Portugal but looking to move it [to the UK] so we can have more control over the process and have a closer relationship with manufacturers. I’ve loved the [Meet the Manufacturer] event because it gathers what I need to do this under one roof.”
London-based Bulgarian print designer Polina Gineva said: “I’m looking for UK manufacturers to launch a womenswear label under my own name. I have been looking in Bulgaria but I’m not happy with the quality; there’s not much difference in price when manufacturing in the UK but the quality is far better.”
On day one the accompanying conference focused on the question of whether mass manufacturing can return to the UK, while the second day’s sessions were aimed at smaller brands and start-up businesses.
Speakers included E Tautz director Patrick Grant, Dr Martens chairman David Suddens, David Nieper managing director Christopher Nieper and shirtmaker Emma Willis.
Marks & Spencer’s head of innovation and quality Simon Colbeck said: “The textile industry is a really complex organisation and it’s great to be able to see different parts of it that I haven’t seen before, meet different people and talk about some of the challenges facing manufacturing in the UK.”
Kate Hills, founder of Meet the Manufacturer’s organiser Make it British, said: “There is an air of confidence in the industry that I haven’t seen for years and a real positivity about the future.”