During the 1970’s Britain was a powerhouse of clothing and textile production, we had factories across the country and they were generating huge amounts of money for our economy. Fast forward ten years or so and UK manufacturing started to head into decline. Our retailers started to head off-shore in order to cut their costs and increase margins. Before you know it “Made in Britain” garment labels were slowly replaced with Made in China, Bangladesh and Cambodia. This globalisation spurred on the birth of the Fast Fashion model we know today.
Recently there has been a small resurgence in manufacturing returning to British shores as some companies start to look away from the Eastern textile meccas and relocate closer to home. While this is still a minority of companies, there is still an increasing amount of retailers who are starting to think more consciously about their carbon footprint or working conditions in factories and therefore are rethinking their supply chain in order to operate in a more sustainable and transparent manner. On the other hand, some retailers are simply taking advantage of a faster, more agile and responsive supply chain by manufacturing closer to home. Whatever the reason, the Made in Britain labels are slowly coming back.
Here at Wolf & Badger we have an array of brands who proudly design and manufacture their products entirely in Britain. Therefore we decided to throw a little celebration and proudly fly the flag for all things Made in Britain. We’ve gathered some interesting statistics as to why Made in Britain is so important and why our British designer’s have chosen to keep their manufacturing closer to home.
Also, be sure to book your tickets for our Made in Britain event in our Coal Drops Yard store on Saturday 20th July. We have an exclusive selection of British designers in-store for one day only, along with workshops from Ora Pearls and Join and a panel discussion about "How to Set up your own Brand" in the afternoon. Get your tickets here.
But, I hear you ask, why is Made in Britain important? Data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said that the total greenhouse gas emissions related to textiles production are equal to 1.2 billion tons annually. These emissions are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined. Just let that sink in for a minute... Our textile production produces more emissions than air traffic and maritime shipping combined.
Although the statistic is scary to say the least, it highlights the importance of lowering carbon emissions for the textile industry. By manufacturing closer to home we reduce the amount of miles our clothing travels. Depending on the retailer, our clothing can be incredibly well-travelled. The cotton for our t-shirt’s can be grown in India, processed in Egypt, woven into a fabric in China, the material cut and assembled in Morocco and dyed in Spain, all before being shipped out across the world to stores. All this shipping and transporting definitely adds up…
Therefore, one of the main benefits to designing, making and selling all in the same country is a huge reduction in air miles. Some of our clothing brands which manufacture in the UK include Tress Clothing, Boo Pala and Sabinna.
Linking back to the previous point, by having all manufacturing processes in the same country, it makes keeping track and monitoring suppliers far easier. Think about how complex it is to ensure a transparent supply chain when products are passed around from one factory to another. How much easier is it to jump in the car and drive a few hours to go and see for yourself? To actually feel the fabric and watch the pieces being made.
"We relocated our production and dyeing to the UK around a year and a half ago so that we could be more involved in the process and could ensure that we have an ethical and transparent supply chain that we can manage well and be completely hands on with at every step". Edward Mongzar
Furthermore, because of this hands on approach it means quality can be monitored more closely and changes can be made very easily. No phone calls back and forth in different time zones and relays of emails. For our designer’s this is important as they can ensure they are putting out the best products for their customers and be hands-on in the process. Gilda & Pearl are a lingerie brand who started out making small collections inspired by vintage designs. They have since grown significantly and have gone on to be stocked in numerous stores and yet have continued to keep their manufacturing in the UK. This allows them to know exactly who makes each Gilda & Pearl piece, and how and where every garment is created, meaning their supply chain is far more transparent and traceable.
"We have such a creative heritage here in the UK, and it’s essential to keep nurturing it. Making in the UK allows us to support businesses and skills within the British garment industry. Gilda & Pearl’s slow but steady scale also means that we always know exactly who has made each garment, and what the environmental and labour standards have been during the process". Gilda & Pearl
Alongside the growing awareness of sustainability, there has also been a resurgence in people shopping local. By buying from independent brands you help keep money in the local economy (rather than going to huge corporations) and support the community. All of our brands at Wolf & Badger are small independents, however for those that also manufacture locally it helps to support factories and craftspeople in the area and keep those skills alive in Britain. If there is consumer demand for British goods then supply will soon follow.
"We are London designed and made. Every piece is designed and made in our studio in London. We source all our precious metal from Hatton Garden and everything is made by hand using artisanal goldsmithing and metalsmithing techniques". Lily Flo Jewellery
Kana and Olive Jennings are two of our homeware brands who make all their pieces by hand in their studios. By buying from these brands it helps to support local creatives and fill the market with unique and interesting products. There is something charming about imperfection and having a piece which has been visibly made by hand; you can spot the little marks and quirks that makes your piece unique and you know that no two pieces will be the same. These ceramics, planters and vases come with a story about who created it and where and this makes for a special addition to any home.