London may be one of the fashion capitals of the world, but global recognition can also be found in Cheltenham, Elgin, Yeovil, Northampton and Nuneaton as Superdry, Johnstons Cashmere, Pittards, Barker Shoes and LXY Brands picked up prizes at this year's UK Fashion & Textile Export Awards, which were held in London.
Waving the flag for the capital were winners Ariella, Bolongaro Trevor, Damaris, Derek Rose, La Petite Salope, Lie Down I Think I Love You and Linda Farrow.
The UK Fashion & Textile Export Awards have been presented since 1986 and are the fashion industry's very own Oscars to recognise outstanding sales performance beyond the UK domestic market. This year, as usual, the Awards were presented to the winners by HRH The Princess Royal, President of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT), the event's organiser. Despite the difficulties of the global economic condition, UK companies had a very successful year in 2009 and the UKFT Awards attracted a record number of entries.
"There has been an uplift, particularly among American and Japanese buyers, for UK brands with a strong heritage or with a contemporary, urban feel. This has helped many of our winners to increase their overseas business even in these tough times. Interestingly, some businesses, particularly those with specialist UK production, have a much larger footprint overseas than they do in the UK, " explained Paul Alger, deputy director, UKFT. A UKFT survey revealed that the UK's top five export markets were the USA, Japan, France, Italy and Germany.
This year's Awards also included the first Lifetime Achievement trophy, which was presented to the king of men's nightwear Derek Rose, and another first was for textiles, which was won by leather specialist Pittards.
The Gold Award, for long-standing export excellence and sponsored by HSBC Commercial Bank, went to Northamptonshire-based Barker Shoes, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year. The company has had a consistently strong record in exports and has opened two flagship stores in London as well as key locations to raise its profile among overseas buyers.
Carol Bagnald, HSBC's regional commercial director for London, said: "HSBC is a keen supporter of the British fashion industry. We are proud to sponsor the UK Fashion & Textile Export Awards again this year. These awards recognise the hard work and commitment of UK exporters in this innovative and exciting industry. We are working with fashion and textile businesses in the capital, and across the UK, to help them make the most of the recovery and believe that trading internationally can help British businesses to get ahead in the current climate."
In addition, a Chairman's Award was presented to John Wilson, former director general of UKFT, who at the end of June retires from full-time employment after 38 years' service, and is now a deputy chairman of the organisation.