The 'Made in Britain' label, it seems, is making a comeback. Marks & Spencer has done it for the high street, Mary Portas has done it for knickers, and my maternity wear label Tiffany Rose has done it for the plethora of pregnant women out there looking for beautiful, flattering and well-made dresses.
Right back from when I founded the label in 2003 I was determined that every Tiffany Rose garment would be designed and manufactured on British shores. I work with a number of manufacturers around the UK to produce the highest quality product, as well as sourcing my fabrics from within the UK where possible.
Tiffany Rose has invested in developing a skilled workforce and restoring skilled workers to their careers, encouraging existing factories to expand and new entrants to start production, creating jobs for a number of seamstresses. One such seamstress has now launched an independent manufacturing business and Tiffany Rose has helped by providing access to working capital and committing to minimum volumes, allowing her to hire and secure premises.
Back in February, The Guardian wrote of 'Britain's rag trade revival', in reference to a successful textile manufacturer in Leicester that is producing clothing for Marks & Spencer's acclaimed 'Best of British' collection.
M&S has certainly found 'Made in Britain' to be a selling point with, as The Guardian notes, their Customer Insight Unit finding that consumers 'value both the design and the investment in the quality that Best of British brings'. Brands such as The Cambridge Satchel Company, Jones & Jones and women's wear brand ABEL also all manufacture their products on British soil.
The Made in Britain label is really important to me and to my customers. First and foremost it appeals to the consumer conscience: buying a garment that has been made in Britain has become a rarity, something of an exclusive, even, and consumers know that in purchasing a Tiffany Rose dress they are supporting British design and manufacturing. They also know that the individual that made the garment was paid a fair wage and their working conditions were of a high standard. Bearing in mind that yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 people and cast the spotlight on the poor manufacturing standards of many high street brands, consumers are understandably more concerned about the ethics of manufacturing than ever before.
For me there are also logistical benefits. I can communicate with my manufacturers easily: we speak the same language; I don't have to worry about a time difference; and can meet them in person with a day's notice. The supply chain is shorter, the production turnaround is quicker and, as long as you chose the right supplier, I believe the quality of British-made goods is far superior.
Made in Britain is also a growing (or reviving, depending on how you look at it) trend, with as many as one in six companies apparently 'restoring' manufacturing to the UK in the past three years and the government pledging to do more to "rebuild British manufacturing prowess".
I'm not pretending that British manufacturing doesn't have its drawbacks: UK-based manufacturers face higher energy costs than those overseas, whilst skilled seamstresses are harder to find and thus cost significantly more.
But, if it works for your brand, as it does for Tiffany Rose, you can reap the rewards of having the Made in Britain label attached to your product. It's something I'm really passionate about and, if you can make it work for you, wholeheartedly recommend.