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Finding your niche is the route to success

With the textile industry increasing globalised and manufacturers facing competition worldwide, it is crucial to stand out from the crowd.

Whereas UK yarn spinners and fabric manufacturers may not be able to compete with the low prices and high volumes offered by factories in China, Vietnam or Cambodia, they are carving out a niche for premium quality that few can rival.

British mills have long been sought out by visitors to Première Vision, the leading fabric show on the European sourcing calendar. Drapers profiles four UK mills packing their bags for Paris with the latest designs for spring 16. Our Show Calendar tells you the best events for sourcing fabrics from high-quality weavers.

Digital printing, the boom sector of global textiles, is another British success story. The UK is well ahead of the curve, with London-based designer labels like Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou pioneering the use of photo-realistic prints in an unlimited number of colours. Haute couture and emerging designers alike turn to digital printers like Worcestershire’s The Silk Bureau to make their beautiful creations a reality. Read more on this in our Digital Takeover feature.

The ultimate in luxury fabrics are being woven and finished in West Yorkshire. Skilled craftsmen in Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds have the ability to blend rare, delicate fibres from vicuña and merino wool to mohair and cashmere, weaving fabrics worth over £1,000 a metre. Luxury cloth merchant Dormeuil relies on the heritage of Yorkshire weavers to produce its Extreme Vicuña fabric. The fact the cloth is manufactured in Britain has a strong appeal for Dormeuil’s international customer base. The company’s president, Dominic Dormeuil, tells us about his plans for growth here.

British textile and garment manufacturers are also finding favour with some domestic retailers, who in recent years have reshored a proportion of their production to streamline the process and improve quality. Marks & Spencer’s Best of British collection of Yorkshire woven fabrics, Topman’s tie-up with Harris Tweed Hebrides and Asos.com’s partnership with London garment factory Fashion Enter all emphasise a commitment on the part of UK retailers to minimise their environmental footprint and utilise homegrown skills. We cover these supply chain developments here.

Textile talents across the UK are responsible for producing everything from super-soft cashmere yarns and reflective tweeds to premium denim, cold water surfwear and even base layers for Nasa. Using the finest raw materials, independent designers are taking their textiles to the mainstream and winning fans beyond the British Isles. Meet them in our 10 top picks.

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