Products made in Britain will most often demand a high price point, including British-made fashion. So why pay that extra cost? Is it worth that higher price?
Considering the industrial revolution and clothing manufacture began in Britain, it is not surprising that we are known around the world for producing high quality goods. Making simple, quality items is what we do best. John Smedley, for example, are the longest running factory in the world who still make beautiful, fine gauge knitwear just as they have done for hundreds of years.
Not all British factories are run ethically, it has to be said, but the majority of them are. Having a short supply chain makes it far easier for designers or brands to work closely with their makers to ensure ethical policies are adhered to. Britain also has high legal standards on workers’ rights, health and safety in the workplace and wage level minimums in comparison to other garment producing countries. Ethical credentials should always be checked and good brands will proudly show them.
Being close to the manufacturing base means significantly fewer miles are clocked up in shipping fabrics and goods around. This is evident in the example of Private White VC, 90% of their raw materials are sourced within a 40 miles of their factory. Road haulage for transportation also means less carbon emitted than sea or air cargo too. Global brands who manufacture off-shore in the far-east will have to fly regularly to oversee factory production, thereby further adding to their carbon footprint. Local production also means less waste is also produced due to being able to turn around stock much quicker.
Britain has produced many great designers and among them Vivienne Westwood, Mary Quant and Paul Smith have a unique ‘Britishness’. This is often expressed with quirkiness and sense of humour that you don’t often find anywhere else. On the other hand designer brands such as Burberry and Stella McCartney offer the more aspirational side of British design classics. This is also embodied in British icons of design such as the Mini, Rolls Royce and even Dyson.
Providence and a strong story are often a big part of what a British brand is about. Hiut denim & HebTroCo are great examples of this. They both brought manufacturing back to the area they are from before it disappeared forever and produce quality pieces made to last using traditional techniques and preserving local skills and economies. What started as personal missions with a passion for their local communities are now highly successful and acclaimed businesses with a real personal touch.
Britain has a rich textile heritage that many brands draw from including the production of high quality cloths such as tweed, linen and tartan. There are many regional areas that have historical or even current links to fashion & textile manufacturing. From lace making in Nottingham, to knitwear in Hawick, Scotland, from shoe making in Northampton, to woollen cloth in Yorkshire, Britain has it all .
All this put together means you are often buying a product with real authenticity, that will last a long time and could sell well at a later date. What could be better slow fashion than that?
Boy Wonder is of course proudly made in Britain for all the reasons above. Be aware, however, that many brands portray themselves as being British by putting a Union Jack on their products whilst not actually making them in Britain at all.
Do you have a favourite made in Britain brand? Do you buy British? What does British made mean to you? We would love to hear from you x
#madeinbritain #britishdesign #fashionmiles
Made in Britain
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Where would we be without the t-shirt? This comfy and versatile garment is a now worldwide staple, and comes in a huge variety of forms from V-neck to long sleeve. Some 2 billion t-shirts are sold around the world every year and the average person owns 27 of them. The majority of t-shirts are made from 100% cotton and it takes six miles of yarn to create just one.
In 1913 crewneck t-shirts were issued by the U.S. Navy to be worn under uniform. It was then taken up by dock workers, miners and farmers who preferred the lighter weight fabric for hot weather conditions. This inexpensive and easy to wash garment went on to became the play gear of choice for mums to put their kids in (and still is today!) By 1920 the word t-shirt became official as it was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It was defined as a ‘collarless, short sleeved or sleeveless usually cotton undershirt: also an outer-shirt of similar design’ It’s iconic name comes from it resembling a letter ‘T’.
By 1932 the t-shirt had become so sought after that students would steal them from their football team so they had to be printed with ‘property of USC’. The ‘Gob’ shirt was then introduced in 1938 by Sears and sold for less than a quarter. The earliest printed t-shirts are thought to be ones made to promote the Wizard of Oz in 1939. The cover of Life magazine in 1942 showed the first photo of a printed t-shirt and Mickey Mouse starts to adorn the ubiquitous garment a few years later. By 1948 t-shirts are already being becoming political statements when New York governor, Thomas E. Dewey runs for president. However it was in 1951 when Hollywood truly sealed the iconic status of the t-shirt when it was worn by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar named Desire.
Since then the t-shirt has travelled the world, shouted political slogans and had smiley faces, always loved and often ironic. I remember squeezing into my little sister’s t-shirts as a teenager to try to get a cute cropped look – I must have looked pretty silly!
As denim is such a reliable favourite in our wardrobes and brilliantly functional for our kids I thought it would interesting to find out about it's history.
The name denim is derived from 'Serge de Nîmes which was originally made by weavers in Nîmes, France who were trying to recreate a cotton corduroy from Genoa, Italy. The famous twill cloth we know and love from jeans to jackets was developed from this. It's distinctive nature comes from the warp being dyed indigo and the weft white, giving it the blue outside colour and white-ish interior. Indigo is the original type of organic dye that was used for denim and came from an Indian plant called Indigofera tinctoria. Indigo dye sits on the outside of the cotton thread rather than penetrating it, thus creating the fading effect that happens over time. Natural indigo was later replaced in the 19th century by a synthetic indigo dye that far cheaper.
Levi Strauss started selling denim in the US. in around 1853 and a Nevada tailor, Jacob W. Davis, started to use this durable fabric in his new 'jeans' that he sold for work wear. Labourers, miners and farm workers of the American west needed something easy to wear yet strong and functional. He made these new trousers stronger using copper rivets. When they become sought after he made a deal with his fabric supplier Levi Strauss and hence Levi Strauss and Co. were created.
Their first pair of jeans sold in 1879 and had only four pockets, just one on the back and two on the front along with the very small one. This small pocket on the right hand side is called a watch pocket and was just that, to hold a man's pocket watch. It is too small for much use today but is a nice touch of history that we all wear without realising. Initially made in denim and cotton duck it soon became apparent that it was the denim jeans that were more popular. Originally they were sold 'raw' meaning the fabric was untreated and unwashed but as time went by people realised they could shrink them to fit.
Marlon Brando turned jeans into casual wear in the 1958 film 'The Wild One' followed not long after by James Dean in 'Rebel without a Cause' They represented a counter-culture that appealed to many teenagers (especially when they were banned from schools!) which later spread to GI's stationed abroad who wore them as a symbol of home. American college students adopted them during the 60's to show solidarity with the working classes. Since that time nearly every generation has had their own style of jeans and denim has spread to every garment imaginable. I remember wearing ripped Levis during my Bros days as a teenager!
#Denim #Jeans #Levis #FashionHistory
As I am hoping to include the most classic of coat shapes, the dapper duffle, in my launch collection I thought you might like a potted history of Paddington's favourite attire.
A long frock hooded coat with toggles is seen in the Polish military in the 1820's which may have influenced the design of British classic. In 1887 John Partridge, an outwear specialist, designed and sold a toggle closure overcoat. This looked somewhat different to the ones we know today as it was shorter and roomier but had the characteristic toggle fastenings. A few years later this was adapted by the British Navy to protect their servicemen against the inclement weather at sea. They were then worn on military ships all round the world.
At this point the duffle was a large one-size-fits-all so that one could be worn by any sailor over other clothing and also have the maneuverability needed for ship work. The toggle closures were used to make the coat easy to fasten with cold, wet or gloved hands. The two piece hood was cut loose to pull over a woolly hat or cap and the cloth used was generally a heavy course wool which was water repellent.
It became most popular during world war 2 thanks to General Montgomery, allied commander of the British forces, who created a signature look worn with a beret at a jaunty angle - hence it's pet name the 'Monty', As the coat saw more service at sea, design changes were made to suit the sailors and their working lives. These included shoulder yokes, throat tabs on the front of the hood and a cross over front, thus becoming the style we recognise today.
Army surplus duffel coats and fabric were sold on by the Ministry of Defence in 1951 to wholesalers Harold and Freda Morris who sold them to camping and leisure wear shops. This was such a huge success with the general public that H&M Morris set up the company Gloverall to produce and sell duffle coats alongside other outerwear. Gloverall still make duffle coats today which are loved around the world particularly by the Japanese.
In the 1960's these army surplus duffles were snapped up cheaply by students, artists and intellectuals, most notably the poet Jean Cocteau, and became the staple garment of the counterculture movement. Paddington bear first appeared in the duffle coat in 1958 and it has been a favourite of children ever since.
#DuffleCoat #Monty #Paddington
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