Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Let’s believe in British manufacturing

Bruce Montgomery, Menswear consultant and professor in design craftsmanship at Northumbria University.

The British fashion industry generates about £21bn for the economy but mostly from products made abroad. Yet UK manufacturing has paid dividends for those brands, such as Albam or Nigel Cabourn, that have resisted the trend for cheaper prices in favour of using factories in Manchester, the Midlands and the Scottish Borders.

Some of the best factories are in rural areas. So instead of your Boris bike, get on your Brompton bike (made in west London) and go and see for yourselves.

Examples include Johnstons of Elgin, which produces cashmere scarves and shawls for luxury brands such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Burberry under a Made in Scotland label. John Smedley makes all its knitwear in its Derbyshire factory. Footwear brand Grenson’s Rose collection is made in Rushden, Northamptonshire. Quality outerwear can be sourced from Cooper & Stollbrand in Manchester and formal suits from Cheshire Bespoke in Crewe.

Manufacturing needs government support however, as rent and rates are high and bureaucratic red tape is abundant. The introduction of small tax breaks and incentives to make it attractive to the next generation to enrol in an apprenticeship would help; creating jobs, saving skills, giving a sense of pride and a point of difference.

Some major brands have committed to return a certain percentage to UK sourcing, but it is only a few. If all British-based brands had just 10% of their production in the UK, it would help create a sustainable manufacturing base.

British manufacturing is not cheap, but for a lot of better-end brands margins and market price points are still achievable. In product areas other than fashion, initiatives such as Made North and Make it British are flying the flag, so whether it is Made in Manchester or Made in UK, surely it’s time for some self-belief in making at home again.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.