Earlier this year I was looking for British manufactured ‘Made in the UK’ and washcare labels for my garments. It’s not simply a case of finding the ones you like and buying them. Because ironically some of them are simply not. I’ve had to send out inquiries because some products I like aren’t transparent about their place of origin. And you can never be too careful.
As a local designer who likes to hold a torch up for UK manufacturing I feel it is my duty to source British made base products whenever I can without pricing myself out of the industry. I like to be transparent about the way I work.
Primarily I know I let myself down on my fabrics which I buy largely as end of roll stock from a third party who sources from Midlands based garment manufacturers. Some of these fabrics are UK made but I can’t guarantee they all are.
Whilst you can find select high end designer curtain, upholstery, tailoring and wallpaper fabrics made here, it’s not the case for the jersey and stretch fabrics I am partial to. I don’t feel there is much I can do about that. The UK does not have a sustainable textiles industry and I don’t have the budget for more expensive options right now and that includes bulk ordering from abroad.
I do have a hang up about the origin of my fabrics. It’s constantly on my mind that I will never truly be ‘Made In The UK’ until my fabrics, threads and other sundries have been produced here. And whilst it is relatively easy to find home grown companies via websites like Make It British, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will find what you want, at a price you can afford.
At the end of the day, you have to be able to sell your product on. And if you’re paying an additional £10 per metre for the luxury of a British woven fabric, as a small company you may find it very hard to shift your final product and still make a profit.
There are of course ‘institutions’ which have always been British such as Harris Tweed where heritage skills are entirely utilised by local people. I have bought from the Laxey Mill on the Isle of Man and it’s a proud moment when you can say you made something with a fabric who’s origin is clear to you. It doesn’t happen very often. That was however, one of the most expensive fabrics I have ever bought and I have never been able to sell the coat it eventually became.
That being said, buying from my second hand sourcer does fit with the ethos of what I am doing. Textiles waste is also a big part of the way I work. I aim to throw away as little as possible. By purchasing unwanted stock from factories I am upcycling and recycling in my own way. I am also helping to keep another small trader in business.
I live in Manchester, once the heart of our textiles industry. Today most of the mills have been converted into office blocks and residential apartments and the only companies I can find on Make It British anywhere near me are a quilt maker and a menswear designer and manufacturer. It’s a sad legacy.
For all things Falcieri Designs check out my website at www.falcieridesigns.co.uk