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UKFT ready to lead a fashion industry action plan

Sep '10
The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) is ready to lead a coordinated “action plan” for the industry, which has been called for by the British Fashion Council (BFC).

As the leading national body representing the entire fashion and textile sector, UKFT welcomes the publication last week of BFC's report, The Value of the UK Fashion Industry.

UKFT agrees with the BFC's conclusion that a coordinated “fashion action plan” is needed to plan the future growth and success. UKFT believes that key government departments and public sector agencies, education and skills organisations, professional bodies and other stakeholders wish to deal with fewer, nationally representative bodies rather than many small interest groups.

UKFT is the umbrella association for 15 industry bodies (including the BFC) as well as having several hundred companies in direct membership, including many design-led fashion businesses.

The report, carried out by Oxford Economics and commissioned by BFC in partnership with the London Development Agency, attempts to define the value that the fashion industry brings to the UK economy.

UKFT, which was one of its funders, was consulted by Oxford Economics, and contributed opinions and statistics relative to the fashion and textile manufacturing sector.

Despite the ongoing emphasis on the role of “designers”, UKFT believes that more recognition needs to given to the significant contribution that is made to the UK economy by manufacturers. There is general agreement that employment in the sector still exceeds 100,000, with high concentrations in the traditional areas of expertise such as north-west England, West Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the Scottish Borders.

Typically, the remaining textile and clothing manufacturers in the UK are lean, efficient, highly skilled and produce high-value-added products that enjoy a worldwide reputation. It is important to note that the BFC report does not address the contribution made in non-fashion areas, such as interior textiles, performance fabrics and technical textiles. All these sectors are represented in UKFT's membership

UKFT additionally operates a free-to-use database called Let's Make It Here on its website, which lists UK-based manufacturers of textiles, clothing and components. It has been warmly received by companies, including London Fashion Week designers, which wish to make in the UK.

Eric Musgrave, director general of UKFT, says: “Let's Make It Here is an initiative through which the industry is trying to help itself, by enabling makers and designers to find each other more easily. In the current economic climate, the industry knows that seeking new hand-outs from the government is a non-starter. But it is important that the existing grants, such as the Tradeshow Access Programme that promotes exports, the training initiatives run via the Skillset sector skills council, and the Climate Change Levy discounts that UKFT administers, are maintained by the government.

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