“Made in Great Britain” is not merely a fact: it is an attitude, a legacy, and a standard of excellence.
One month ago, the world seemed to stand still with the shocking news of Brexit splashed across every media outlet, igniting mixed emotions to say the least: sadness, glee, frustration, confusion, triumph, disappointment. The impact on the fashion industry has been coined as devastating as most UK brands and designers source textiles and other material from other EU countries such as Italy and France, and also not to mention the influx of international talent which flock to London for its world renowned fashion education. A defining moment in history to be sure with consequences not yet foreseen but one thing is for sure, forward we must look… With so much in limbo, I think now is an appropriate time to quickly reflect on the British fashion industry and see what lies behind the brand and heritage of “Made in Britain”.
Throughout my lifetime as a mere millennial, I have grown up with the idea of having production outsourced to low-wage countries so more developed countries can enjoy goods at a (sometimes painfully) cheap price. However, recently there has been somewhat of a homecoming to home markets such as back to British roots in fashion manufacturing, juxtaposing the pace of a more and more globalised world (or is it in fact becoming less globalised?). From both high end brands such as Burberry, Mulberry, Hackett London, and J.W Anderson and high street brands including TopShop and asos.com British manufacturing is again on the rise and for the sake of ethics and higher quality we should just throw our hands in the air and sing Hallelujah! But why is this happening? On one hand manufacturing in countries such as Bangladesh and China are actually becoming more expensive, due to new labour laws thus raising minimum wages (and human rights…finally) while on the other hand being labeled as “Made in Britain” carries with it a story, a tradition and a standard of high quality- fitting for a desirable product. Consumers are intelligent and informed and are increasingly more aware of the true cost of fast (cheap) fashion and feel the urge to support home economies with their purchases.
The UK has always enjoyed a rich legacy in fabric production, especially in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, manufacturing highest quality wools and tweed making the case for why producing in the UK is so attractive. Also the tradition of precise tailoring (such as the suit makers of Saville Row) and fine craftsmanship has been passed down through generations proving British artisan work is all but lost. Not only in terms of manufacturing is UK fashion heroic, but throughout its history and influence upon global apparel has been enormous. Some key British Fashion innovators include: William Henry Perkin who founded artificial dye made in a factory (so you wouldn’t have to use Cow urine for the colour yellow for example…. thank goodness!) Charles Frederick Worth the founder of Haute Couture and the seasonal fashion weeks we know today and James Hargreaves the inventor of the modern cotton mill thus speeding up production x 100! However it is the cultural movements which the UK is most celebrated for in influencing global fashion. There was glam rock in the 1970s, Punk in 1976, Rule Britannia in the 1990s but in 1960 was when the face of fashion forever changed towards youth and equality and thanks to the cool kids of King’s Road sporting Mary Quant vinyl mini-skirts.
The influence of Britain on fashion is great and it will be interesting to see how exactly Brexit will impact the industry in both corporate and creative aspects. Until then all which can be said is that “Made in Britain” is not merely a fact: it is an attitude, a legacy, and a standard of excellence which spoils the world with some of the finest quality and innovative fashions crossing any boundaries.
Dress: Susan Small (Vintage) Boots: Burberry Denim Vest: Guess Jeans