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Make it British reaches capacity as buyers flock to debut

The inaugural Make it British manufacturing conference on Wednesday (June 11) was filled to capacity on day one, with some 3,000 industry members attending.

Held at the Old Truman Brewery in London’s Spitalfields, it aims to boost the use of British manufacturing within the fashion industry. Exhibitor stands sold out more than six weeks ago, with 47 British businesses exhibiting.

Founder Kate Hills told Drapers the event would look for a bigger venue to hold visitors next year after the surprise success of the first day, which saw entrance queues forming from the early morning.

She said “capacity issues and boosting skill sets” were recurring themes at the morning talks. Hills added she was pleased to see a higher number of buyers present: “Buyers and merchandisers in particular have to get behind UK manufacture.”

John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Arcadia were in attendance, alongside representatives from British labels including Paul Smith and John Smedley.

Daliah Simble, head of sourcing for womenswear label Roland Mouret, said the event was helping change perceptions about the cost of British manufacture: “We need fresh blood with cutting and sewing skills here in the UK. It’s about getting bums on seats in factories.”

Mulberry global supply director Ian Scott said a lack of UK fashion manufacturing “is not the government’s fault – the industry has to take some responsibility too.” He added he hoped the event would “inspire the industry” to use British manufacturing. 

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