UK: UKFT calls for British manufacturing debate
Apparel companies wanting to manufacture in the UK need to be willing to support the sector with investment, according to the boss of The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT).
Speaking to just-style last week, UKFT CEO John Miln said dialogue with capacity providers was "important" if apparel companies want to manufacture in the UK.
The comments came after Jeremy Hackett, founder of upmarket men's wear business Hackett, said the company has to make many of its garments overseas because no manufacturers in Britain can. He was previously reported as saying the UK market has been "decimated".
According to Miln, it is true that volume production no longer really exists in the UK. However, he noted, manufacturing "does exist in areas with heritage etc but volume is not apparent any more."
Referring to Hackett's comments, Miln added: "I'm not suggesting that Jeremy should buy his own factory, but there are opportunities in the UK that require investment. It depends whether people are willing to make that commitment to support the manufacturing that might actually create the opportunity."
A dialogue between retailers and UK clothing manufacturers needs someone to start it, Miln said. "It won't happen by itself. We can all talk about the immaculate conception and things, but the reality is someone's got to kick it off. Someone's got to start somewhere and where does it start? Who's going to do the investing?"
As well as having the capacity, a skilled workforce is also important, Miln added.
"Who's going to help you, who's going to support you, what is the industry going to do and what commitment are they going to make to give you a consistent run of production that helps you develop that capacity. That's what it's all about."
Miln said he is trying to start a debate about the opportunities for manufacturing in the UK. "I think it's one thing to bemoan that it doesn't exist - but if you want it to exist then what are you prepared to do about it?"
Last month, the UKFT relaunched its 'Let's Make It Here' database in response to increasing demand for UK-manufactured textiles and apparel.
The initiative enables fashion designers, brands and retailers to find companies with facilities in the UK to manufacture to their specifications or own label.
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