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Help spread the word about best of British

Eric Musgrave

A powerful retail boss asked me recently: “Do we still make any textiles in the UK?”

A powerful retail boss asked me recently: “Do we still make any textiles in the UK?”

He was unaware that 20-plus British mills are represented at each edition of Première Vision [which takes place on September 14-16 in Paris], mainly showing clothing fabrics. There are also businesses that don’t attend Première Vision, notably a number that have achieved a worldwide reputation for British-made performance and technical textiles.

But his ignorance does suggest there are benefits in British-based manufacturers communicating better with potential domestic customers. The B2B networking between British supplier and British customer is one activity the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) will be extending over the coming months.

There is also a huge level of ignorance in Westminster. The head of one minister’s office has told me they wish to co-operate with the fashion business, but “we don’t really understand how it works”. With this in mind, at the UKFT we have been learning about political lobbying. We believe influence can be brought to bear by using the right channels, by understanding the Westminster system, and that the keen support of a small group of backbenchers is vital.

We know it is no good taking 30 topics to talk over with senior civil servants and ministers; two is better and one has the most chance of getting their attention.

The UKFT will soon confirm its strategy towards influencing politicians. I’d be delighted if more of you joined us so your voice can be heard too. If the industry doesn’t represent its own interests, who will?

Eric Musgrave is director general of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT). He will also lead a Q&A session with Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture, communications and creative industries, at the Drapers Fashion Summit in November. Visit to reserve a place

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