This week I made another trip to London to go to the Meet the Manufacturer tradeshow. This was exactly what it says it was – a chance for designers to find manufacturers who can realise their project dreams and produce their products in the UK. The show, now in it’s third year, was set up by the Make it British team who also ran the Make it British forum back in October that I was lucky enough to attend. They are doing an amazing job in bringing together the great manufacturers we still have in the UK (yes, there really are some left!) and their counterparts to help create high quality British products that are sought after across the globe. In fact a recent survey showed that British made products are considered to be fourth best quality in the world. This is reflected in the revival for British made goods as manufacturers are reporting a 25-30% increase in demand compared to a few years ago.
There were over 170 suppliers to the fashion, textiles and homewares industry at this year’s show including leather goods manufacturers, fabric mills, knitwear factories and printers to name but a few. Throughout the two days of the show there were also seminars by industry leaders on various different topics around making in the UK, a wool room, a brand hall, live workshops and demonstrations of hat making and pattern cutting for example and an ask the expert area. The brand hall showcased lots of different products all made in the UK from silk scarves, to shoes and even underwear. This all went to show the diversity of skills we still have in this country and the great wealth of creativity and talent that we nurture.
I met many very interesting people and companies including knitwear manufacturers; Crystal Knitwear and Harley of Scotland, Think Positive Prints – a digital textile printing company, TeamTots -a childrenswear manufacturer and CFS – a fashion sampling studio. Some of these I hope to be able to work with on my launch collection. It was really useful to meet these contacts face to face to get a feel of whether they will be suitable for what I am trying to achieve and also to gain expert advice and opinion. I even got some very encouraging feedback on my design ideas which really helps to spur me on!
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