Blog: The battle for British clothing manufacturing wages on
Petah Marian | 26 September 2012
The battle for the future of British clothing and textile industry took centre stage at a conference organised yesterday (25 September) by the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI).
The Olympics has shone a spotlight on the best of British over the past year, and there remains a great affection and interest for this country's heritage brands and textiles abroad.
The commonly held view has been that UK manufacturing plays an essential role for premium heritage brands like Burberry, Johnson's of Elgin or Barbour, but less so for the high street.
However, with turnaround times becoming ever-faster, and the cost of manufacturing in China increasing, some are suggesting that a UK renaissance might be due.
UK manufacturer Buff Clothing's creative design director, Sangita Khan, argued that her company is proof you can produce large volumes in the UK and still make a profit. Her company works with retailers like Next, River Island and Matalan, and emphasised the benefits of producing locally.
Fashion Enter director Jenny Holloway is another backing the UK industry, with her not-for-profit group servicing between 4,500-5,000 pieces a week for companies like John Lewis, Oasis and Asos.
However, Michael Spenley, who is director of Shop Direct subsidiary Compliance Direct, warned against companies assuming that the made in Britain sign assures products have been produced to higher ethical standards.
He said Shop Direct has chosen not to work with certain factories after unannounced visits found one factory's entire staff was off with TB, while another was conducting business and had staff living out of a derelict school, with bedrolls and gas stoves alongside machinery in the factory.
Yet for all the enthusiasm for UK manufacturing, there remains a number of challenges, not least the ageing workforce.
Spenley put it best when he said: "If good intentions and positive headlines were bankable assets - the UK clothing manufacturers would be in terrific financial shape".
This renaissance may still be a few years off.
Over the past month, Donald Trump and his team failed to offer any clear plan to ensure Americans would "Buy American, Hire American" - while the British government's attempts to clarify the specifics...
The Bangladesh government was forced to respond late last week to pressure over its crackdown on labour activists after a number of global brands and retailers, including H&M and Inditex announced pla...
Fresh from their disappointment at seeing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal abandoned last month with an executive order by President Donald Trump, the US apparel and footwear sector...
With the ultimate aim of ensuring all the cotton in its products is sourced sustainably, value clothing retailer Primark is adamant that having a business model focused on offering the lowest prices o...
- Unlocks for the future fashion sourcing landscape
- EU eyes mandatory due diligence for apparel supply
- What TTIP might mean for US, EU textiles & apparel
- Geo-political uncertainty and how to survive it
- Where next for Corporate Human Rights Benchmark?
- Li & Fung forms supply chain partnership with PVH
- US Q4 in brief – Finish Line, Oxford Industries
- Sears has "substantial doubt" of future
- Adidas mulls roll-out of in-store customisation
- Brands urged to empower women in sub-Sahara Africa
- Central and East Europe Report Package
- Central America strategic sourcing review - a focus on Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
- Southeast Asia strategic sourcing review – a focus on Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar
- When Things Go Wrong - A Practical Guide to Managing Common Problems in Apparel Sourcing
- Outdoor performance apparel 2016: A broader perspective