THE FRAGILITY & RESILIENCE OF BRITISH MANUFACTURING
n the late 1980s the fashion industry took production overseas where competition for cheap labour all but decimated the British factories, losing skilled workers and family run businesses throughout Britain.
And from here, fast fashion grew quickly and steadily, we loved the idea of purchasing an item of clothing, wearing it a few times and then throwing it away. With reduced manufacturing costs, retail prices fell dramatically and we became addicted to quantity over quality.
However in the last decade there has been a shift and British manufacturing is making a comeback with many manufacturers now at full capacity due to high demand.
Why is this?
With added costs of Brexit, poor exchange rates and an increase of Far-Eastern prices the cost gap between non-UK and UK is starting to reduce. Though it is a higher cost to manufacture in the UK suppliers do not always allocate their styles based on price but also consider skill, speed to market, convenience, flexibility, high quality and carbon footprints and this is where UK manufacturing excels and becomes an excellent choice.
In the UK we have a skilled workforce, full of the finest British tailors, pattern cutters and mills with experience and exceptional knowledge ready to jump at this chance and many of whom remember the good times prior to the 1980s. Combining this with rising costs abroad many suppliers are leaning more towards UK manufacture.
The advantage of being based in London allows us to visit UK factories regularly to ensure high quality standards are met. This improves efficiency within our team and reduces our carbon footprint and excessive travel abroad. In addition to this, at Studio 104 we support and work with many British mills and fabric suppliers, shipping fabrics within the UK reduces our carbon footprint tremendously. It’s a win for Studio 104, our manufacturers, our economy and our carbon footprint.
Studio 104 and British Manufacturing
At Studio 104, we pride ourselves in being a small and growing British business and we produce our most complex Doorman’s coats at a British Tailor based in East London. With over 25 years’ experience and an exceptional eye for detail and construction our tailor uses a combination of traditional tailoring methods made with a high quality British wool to create our bespoke products.
Many of our clients locations are steeped in history with deeply traditional British luxury interiors and require their uniforms to reflect the heritage of their buildings and surroundings. We have also observed that our clients, many of whom are British hoteliers embrace British heritage and are excited to promote British manufacturing. They ask for garments with meaning and connection. Our clients love that their staff feel a sense of pride whilst wearing their uniforms with the knowledge that their Doorman’s coat is made with British wool, woven in Yorkshire and manufactured in East London.
The Future of Fashion Manufacturing
There is no written rule about the future. We have seen the rule book ripped up many a time now after Covid 19 seeing many long established businesses closing their doors.
Across the UK, fashion manufacturing employs over 43,000 people within nearly 3,900 companies. In order to optimise on current opportunities,the infrastructure and workforce must expand accordingly.
The manufacturing industry desperately needs new talent moving up through the ranks from younger generations to help keep the industry afloat. And yet, a poll shows that only a fifth of those who are parents of under 18s would encourage their children to work in manufacturing. This is attributed to beliefs regarding low pay and limited career prospects working on a production line and manual labour.
Historically, these Manufacturing skills were taught on the job, and encouragingly we are starting to see companies such as UKFT offering apprenticeships formachinists, pattern cutters and fabric cutters with many more in the pipeline.
British Manufacturing has a sense of fragility yet resilience and determination and I am confident that the future is bright. And at Studio 104, we are committed to working alongside British manufacturers and very proud to be a small British business.
To discover more about our ‘Future Friendly Uniform’, head to our Sustainability section detailing all the areas Studio 104 focus on for a truly sustainable approach to uniform. All of our projects align to this way of working - to see how creativity, quality,craftsmanship and sustainability combine to achieve world-leading uniform for the luxury hospitality and retail, view Studio 104's portfolio, and our pre-designed, made-to-order 104 Collection.
Written by Christine – Senior ProductDeveloper
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