UK department store chain, Debenhams, has launched its 'Made by Great Britons' campaign in an effort to help bolster domestic textile production and revitalise the UK clothing industry.
Debenhams will stock more clothing and homeware made exclusively in the UK – with a Union Jack label displayed prominently to emphasise the origin and a new bespoke brand, called ‘Made by Great Britons’.
Debenhams already has a strong history of working with the best British designers, with its infamous ‘Designers at Debenhams’ range including well-known names like Julien Macdonald, Henry Holland, Jenny Packham, Matthew Williamson and Jasper Conran.
Suzanne Harlow, Debenhams’ Group Trading director said the fantastic support for the Jubilee and the Olympics this year shows how passionate the UK is about championing the best of British.
“We have some of the best clothing manufacturers in the world, and we want to see their products in our stores. As we’re proud of where they’re produced, our new brand will appear on anything we source from the UK,” said Ms Harlow.
“We’re calling on new manufacturers to come forward. If you’ve got innovative, exciting garments and an excellent standard of factory, then we want to hear from you.”
Debenhams currently uses manufacturers from all over the world, including the Asia, Africa and Europe.
The news follows the announcement in early November from secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable, that the government plans to breathe new life into UK textile manufacturing.
“There is a growing momentum behind bringing back substantial parts of the textile industry to the UK,” said Cable. It was an industry that almost died in Britain, although there are some high-quality specialist firms that have survived.
“I am now picking up that the economics of the industry are changing, and very much welcome the initiatives of the big retailers to start sourcing in the UK where possible.”
According to the FT, interest in this idea has been boosted by research by Trigon Diligence, a consultancy which indicates that for some “high fashion” clothes, such as relatively expensive jeans or shirts, it is now cheaper to base production in the UK than in China or other Asian production centres such as Bangladesh and India.
According to Suzanne Harlow speed to market is crucial for Debenhams and it makes sense to use manufacturers nearer to home whenever we can, rather than shipping in products from the other side of the world.
“We look forward to UK manufacturers getting in touch and hope this move will bolster a revival of the UK clothing industry,” she said.