‘British business is better than ever’ was the message loud and clear at this year’s Meet the Manufacturer event organised by Make it British, the campaign for the return of UK manufacturing.
Meet the Manufacturer took place on May 25-26 at the Truman Brewery, London, boasting a high-calibre of participants, including the British Fashion Council; Harrods; Marks & Spencer; the National Gallery, and ASOS.
A poll carried out by Meet the Manufacturer in the run up to the event echoed these welcome signs of life for the British textiles and fashion industry, showing that 60% of manufacturers say “business is better than five years ago”, and 65% say “stay in the EU”.
Founder and CEO of Make it British, Kate Hills commented “We’ve been delighted by the overwhelming support for this year’s event, borne out by the fact that we had more people attend this time on the first day than attended overall last year.
“There’s an air of confidence in the industry at the moment and Make it British is definitely back in fashion.”
More than 100 companies from across the textile and homeware sectors, and from all corners of the British Isles came together to exhibit at this year’s trade show.
An inspiring line up of conference speakers on day one included presentations from Hal Watts of Unmade, Peter Needle of Segura, and Brendan McCormack of English Fine Cottons.
Day two focused on the relationship between the ‘creatives’ and the people that run the factories, including a candid panel discussion with Nick Ashley (Private White VC), Mike Stoll (Cooper & Stollbrand), Sarah Watkinson-Yull (Yull Shoes) and Jack Savva (Staffa Shoes), chaired by Pete Schonbeck of the London Small Business Centre.
Rosie Wolfenden MBE took to the stage to explain the importance of originality and why she runs Tatty Devine. Closing the conference, Katya Wildman revealed why she brought the production of her iconic bombshell dresses back to the UK.
Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, was there to co-host a debate and networking party to bring together key designers and manufacturers to discuss positive fashion and sustainability in the British fashion industry.
She remarked: “The atmosphere when you arrive at Meet the Manufacturer is incredible. For the exhibitors here, it’s a great opportunity to hear that our designers want to make in the UK and to talk about the opportunities and how to overcome some of the barriers.
“The British designers that we promote through London Fashion Week and London Collections Men really wouldn’t be able to start if it wasn’t for the manufacturing on their doorstep.”