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UKFT primed to lead fashion action plan

The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) has put itself forward to lead an action plan to ensure the future growth of the fashion industry.

In the wake of calls from the British Fashion Council (BFC) for a coordinated plan to maintain the sector’s success, UKFT, which represents the entire fashion and textile sector, said it welcomed the BFC’s report The Vaue of the UK Fashion Industry last week.

It agreed that key government departments and public sector agencies, education and skills organisations, professional bodies and other stakeholders wish to deal with fewer, nationally representative bodies rather than many small interest groups.

UKFT added that the report, which said the fashion industry contributed £20.9 billion to the UK economy, did not address the contribution made to the economy in “non-fashion areas” such as interior textiles, performance fabrics and technical textiles.

UKFT said that despite the ongoing emphasis on the role of “designers”, more recognition needs to given to the significant contribution of  manufacturers to the UK economy. It said that  employment in the sector still exceeds 100,000, with high concentrations in the traditional areas of expertise such as north-west England, West Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the Scottish Borders.

The remaining textile and clothing manufacturers in the UK are efficient, highly skilled and produce high-value-added products that enjoy a worldwide reputatio, UKFT said.

UKFT operates a free-to-use database called Let’s Make It Here on its website (www.ukft.org), which lists UK-based manufacturers of textiles, clothing and components.

UKFT director general Eric Musgrave said: “Let’s Make It Here is an initiative through which the industry is trying to help itself, by enabling makers and designers to find each other more easily. In the current economic climate, the industry knows that seeking new hand-outs from the government is a non-starter.

“But it is important that the existing grants, such as the Tradeshow Access Programme that promotes exports, the training initiatives run via the Skillset sector skills council, and the Climate Change Levy discounts that UKFT administers, are maintained by the government.

“UKFT is ready, willing and able to lead the development of a ‘fashion action plan’ and is uniquely well-placed to do so. The talent of British designers is essential for the prosperity of the industry, but their ideas need to be made reality by textile and clothing manufacturers. We look forward to the continued support of the BFC and our other member-associations in developing our vital industry.”

UKFT is the umbrella association for 15 industry bodies, including the BFC, as well as having several hundred companies in direct membership, including many design-led fashion businesses.

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