For years the textile and garment industry in the UK has been in inexorable decline and at a faster rate than the general decline of the UK industry in general. However this may be all about to change.
The China effect which has enabled us to buy products at rock bottom prices is starting to end. Rises in Chinese wages and the Chinese exchange rate is making products from China more expensive. In addition the increase in oil prices to over $100 per barrel has meant that the cost of moving a container from China to the UK has risen substantially. All this has made China not quite the bargain place to manufacture that it once was. Throw in the recent decline in Sterling’s trade weighted index and things are starting to look decidedly rosy for UK manufacturers!
This has resulted in a new phenomena called reshoring (or onshoring). This is the movement of manufacturing back to the country in which the products are sold.
As well as the increased cost advantages of producing in the UK there are other advantages such as;
It is early days yet but there are success stories out there such as Deborah Meaden’s (of Dragon’s Den fame) new venture with Somerset based woollen mill Fox Brothers. There are plenty of other British fabric brands that are also putting their faith in British manufacturing, such as niche brands Cabbages & Roses, Vanessa Arbuthnott and Kate Forman who’s fabric is either printed here or woven and printed here in the UK.
Other larger fabric distributors such as Prestigious Textiles have done their print on cotton work here for many years. Recognizing that shorter lead time means less money tied up in stock, fewer stock outs, reduced risk of unsold fabric and increased customer responsiveness.
For textiles manufacturing here to succeed there needs to be people turning this fabric into finished goods and fortunately there is a lot going on. The much vaunted British creativity in the fashion scene has meant that there lots of small designers with small production run requirements. In addition to clothing there is also a vibrant soft furnishings industry that is responding to customers increased requirement for individuality in the décor of their homes.
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