Brands, retailers and designers looking to make products in the UK will soon be able to consult an online database of British manufacturers compiled by the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT). Within the next few weeks, computer programs permitting, we will be launching our ‘Let’s Make It Here’ initiative. This will provide a long-overdue listing of who is still making components, cloth, clothing, footwear, accessories and interiors fabrics in the UK, as well as identifying fabric finishing companies and the like.
Statistics are notoriously hard to come by in the manufacturing sector, but a conservative estimate from the British Apparel and Textile Confederation suggests that about 141,000 people are still employed in the manufacture of clothing, footwear and fabrics. These jobs and skills are worth preserving - and adding to.
There is a well-known need for fledgling designers to have UK-based production units for their tiny runs, but UKFT’s interest goes far beyond these micro-businesses. We are determined also to provide a service for the much larger concerns that tell us that they want to make in the UK. In some instances this is simply a desire to have some production closer to home. In other cases it is recognition that a ‘Made in the UK’ label is a potent sales benefit in many important foreign markets. It surely does no harm at home either.
To compile and constantly update the database, UKFT will require help from all interested parties.
If your company makes things in the UK, or you are a customer of manufacturers here, or if you know of viable British production units, please send contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org. For British manufacturing the slogan must be: Use It or Lose It.
Eric Musgrave is director general designate of the UK Fashion and Textile Association