Monthly Archives: June 2014

Bee Good skincare products – Made in Britain using British beeswax

One of my followers on twitter, Bee Good make cleansers, moisturisers, hand creams in the UK – http://beegood.co.ukhttps://twitter.com/BeeGood_UK

Bee Good Honey & Wild Flax Daily Moisturiser.  Made in Britain using British beeswax.

Bee Good Honey & Wild Flax Daily Moisturiser. Made in Britain using British beeswax.

Advertisements

Spinning a New Yarn | NOT JUST A LABEL – British Tetxile Manufacturing

Spinning a New Yarn | NOT JUST A LABEL.

“It’s a far cry from the catwalk, but don’t be fooled by the quaintness of the setting…”

by Kate Abnett
In the early twentieth century, West Yorkshire was the textile manufacturing portal to the world, and the city of Bradford, the global capital for wool. Kate Abnett travelled to West Yorkshire, to visit the remaining mills and find out if manufacturing on home turf is a viable option for independent fashion designers (spoiler: it absolutely is)…

Textile mills were once the lifeblood of West Yorkshire’s communities. These hard blackened buildings were an inseparable part of the landscape, looming over its villages like dark protectors, and offering thousands of Yorkshiremen and women security and stable incomes, in exchange for damned hard work.

Today, though the buildings still loom, most are empty. There are less than six working mills here, where there once were hundreds. When high street clothing boomed in late twentieth century, textile production leaked out of the UK to China and India, where the ability to produce vast quantities of fabric and cheaper labour beckoned.

Three years ago, Woolmark – the international quality standard for wool – launched a project to introduce young designers to the manufacturing facilities and their doorstep. Each year, the ‘Loom to London’ initiative takes an up-and-coming British design talent to visit select UK mills, to improve their understanding of textiles production, and their relationships with sourcing contacts in the UK.

This year, UK label Teatum Jones took part, following in the footsteps of Lou Dalton and Agi & Sam, and marking the first year a womenswear brand has made the trip. I headed up north with Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, the designers behind the label, to see British manufacturing first-hand.

Textiles and Tea

Visiting Stanley Mills textile mill in Bradford feels like going back in time. Pint bottles of milk with foil lids wait expectantly on the building’s front step, and inside, the workmen’s tables are spread with mugs of tea and copies of the Daily Star. A can of tinned prunes conspicuously sits by the staff microwave.

We walk by machines that dispense earplugs like sweets, to the main mill, where vicious looking looms loaded with spools of wool judder, and emerge in a room where a team of middle aged women introduced to us as ‘The Menders’ are pulling huge lengths of fabric over white tables, looking and feeling for impurities; the walls behind them a backdrop of family photos and Nile Rodgers posters torn from tabloids.

It’s a far cry from the catwalk, but don’t be fooled by the quaintness of the setting. Stanley Mills makes some of the finest textiles in the world, for clients including Prada, Armani, Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton. 700 years of textile tradition runs in the blood of this place, and some of the fabrics they produce – we see swatches of a complex fine jacquard – cannot be manufactured anywhere else.

David Gallimore is the Managing Director of Luxury Fabrics Ltd, a merchant supplier that works with Stanley Mills. “When I started in the late 1980s, the company that I joined employed 900 people,” he says. “It’s massively decreased. The industry’s shrunk and what you have now are the specialists. They are the people who can commercially take on the rest of the world and produce fabrics that compete on quality design and class. And that’s where we are.”

The UK’s Upper Hand

Despite the bargain price of overseas manufacturing, there are clear advantages to sourcing fabrics in the UK. “We’ve always been very passionate about developing and working in the UK. It’s something we’ve very proud of,” says designer Rob Jones, who notes the practical advantages of having Teatum Jones’ factory just outside of London – if there is a problem, he can get the train there in under an hour.

The transit time that it takes to import materials from China makes it very tricky to make last minute changes to an order, and short of hopping on a long haul flight, designers have very limited input in their production when it’s overseas.

UK textile manufacturers are arguably more eco-friendly, working under much stricter legislation than factories in the developing world, where certain chemicals banned by EU law are still in use. The impact of such processes on the fabric is such that Yorkshire’s mills – where the soft water in the region means chemical processes can be kept to a minimum – are often approached by clients to do corrective work on fabric that comes back from abroad.

The biggest advantage UK mills offer independent designers is their willingness to do ‘small business’. While overseas factories demand minimum orders as high as 10,000 metres, UK mills are more open to processing small quantities of fabric.

“We’d love to have a minimum of 100,000 metres, but it doesn’t work like that, does it,” laughs Nigel Birch, Product Development Manager at WT Johnson & Sons, a finishing mill in Huddersfield where fabrics are cleaned, dyed and treated, ready to be made into clothes. “For our loyal customers we regularly process material that’s five metres long. One of the things that works for us is that we are accommodating. We try to say yes to everyone.”

A Return to the Glory Days?

Since the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, when a garment factory collapsed, killing 1,133 people, there has been a considerable amount of press proposing that manufacturing will reshore to the developed world. With many brands expending PR miles to promote their ‘locally made’ credentials, and customers more aware of the ethics of their purchases, it would seem that the UK is on the cusp of a clothing manufacturing resurgence.

David Gallimore is not convinced. “The big problem is, once you take manufacturing out, you can’t just put it back in,” he counsels. “It’s not just a question of ‘let’s start a factory’; it’s a question of spending millions of pounds to start a factory and employ the staff. And that just doesn’t happen very easily.”

Government support for the textiles sector is scarce, and an attempt to open a garment factory in Castleford is currently struggling to get off the ground due to lack of funding. “Governments who are just about to be re-elected aren’t willing invest in a long-term plan, that might help thousands of families in the Yorkshire area – but in ten years time,” says Marcia Jennings, Sales Director at Luxury Fabrics Ltd.

Future Fabrics

Despite their firm grounding in tradition, Yorkshire’s mills are keen to work with designers in innovative ways; WT Johnson’s textile conquests include weaving 24 carat gold into material for a £700,000 suit, finishing textiles for Japanese clients with microscopic particles of precious jade, and working with a Scottish customer to lace their fabrics with whiskey.

The real problem is that most young designers – and fashion students – don’t even know these places exist. Many outsource production, assuming the UK wouldn’t be a viable option for manufacturing – but the mills themselves are keen to work with young talent. “You’ve got to promote, assist and help them to become an integral part of the fashion industry,” says David at Stanley Mills. “They’re not all going to be the next big thing, but you never know.”

Nigel Birch encourages young designers to approach the mills – these companies pride themselves on having personal relationships with their clients – they want talk them through the facilities, discuss their sourcing needs and work out how to accommodate them – in person, not via email.

“The theory that we work on is you never know where they’re going to end up,” he says. “They could be the next big thing, and create a lot of business for us. And hopefully, we give them a tour round, we impress them, and they turn around and say, ‘the only place we finish fabrics is WT Johnson.’ That’s the aim.”

Darts, Dart Boards and Darts Accessories Made in the UK

If you’re a budding Bristow buy British made darts…

Harrows Darts is the world’s leading and most widely distributed darts brand and the only major darts brand maintaining production in England. If buying Harrows darts accessories and such items please check these are UK made, as I am not sure for some products – http://www.harrows-darts.com*

Harrows Darts flight. Made in England.

Harrows Darts flight. Made in England.

Harrows Assassin 80-18gr-steeltip_pack darts. Made in England.

Harrows Assassin 80-18gr-steeltip_pack darts. Made in England.

Harrows MAGNET Dart Stems / Shafts; Black, Medium. Made in England.

Harrows MAGNET Dart Stems / Shafts; Black, Medium. Made in England. Photograph by author.

Harrows Classic / Basic / Standard - Round Stone - Dart Points Sharpener. Made in England.

Harrows Classic / Basic / Standard – Round Stone – Dart Points Sharpener. Made in England. Photograph by author.

Retriever Sports (Pentathlon, Amazon, and Elkadart brands) darts, dart flights, dart barrels, dart shafts and dart accessories are all produced at their factory in England. You can ask them for your nearest stockist or your can find their products online – http://www.retrieversports.com

Pentathlon Royal 23g darts. Made in England.

Pentathlon Royal 23g darts. Made in England.

Bulls Eye Darts are all made in the UK. Available on their website.  I note the website / company are currently for sale and I assume from this that their darts are manufactured for them as no mention is made of their production facilities (elsewhere they also talk about their manufacturers; which confirms this). In their FAQs it says “Are your darts made in the UK? Yes all our darts are professionally engineered in the UK using the finest products” – http://www.bullseyedarts.co.uk

As far as I know Bulls Eye Darts are unconnected with Bullseye, the 80s TV game show with Jim Bowen and Bully.

Bully

Bully

There is a possibility that some Target darts are made in the UK, as I have read on the net that they have production facilities in China and the UK. I have written to the company to clarify this, as their About and FAQ parts of their website do not work, but have had no response. The About section of their website is now working, but they give no county of origin information. I have seen a photograph on the web that shows a packet of Target darts as having been made in China, so do check before buying – http://www.target-darts.co.uk

Winmau darts and dart boards are made in Kenya. They do not giving any information about country of manufacture on their website. Winmau are owned by Nodor who also do not give any information about country of manufacture on their website and presumably all their manufacturing is also abroad. The little Union flag on their logo is therefore misleading.

Unicorn darts and dart boards are made in China. I understand the company moved production to China in 1999.

Datadart don’t give any country of origin information about their darts or darts accessories on their website (which suggests they are foreign made), but it would be worth checking with them just in case they are made in the UK. I have seen a couple of articles on the web suggesting they are.

Mitchell Sydney Swans Afl Team Darts are designed in Australia and made in England. The packaging says Made in England. That’s about all I know about these darts (I found them on eBay and on a website called Mal Atwell).

Does anyone know of any other British made darts please?  Or British made dart boards?  Or British made darts accessories?

UK made darts. British darts. British made darts. Darts manufactured in the UK. Made in England darts. Dart boards made in the UK. British made darts accessories. British made darts equipment. UK made darts boards. UK darts. Darts made in the UK. Darts from Great Britain.

A press release on the British Family’s first year

http://britishfamily.co.uk/press-release-possible-live-british/

I should possibly have posted this earlier but here is a short report on how the British Family did in their first year of trying to only buy British. The Bradshaw’s have done a remarkable job and I congratulate them, particularly on helping in bringing some long overdue support to the manufacturers and farmers of Great Britain, and raising awareness of their hard-work.

“It is down to us to seek out British made products and demand them from retailers.”

“Buy British and support UK manufacturing!”

Here is the full press release:

In January 2013 James (35), Emily (30) and their son Lucan (3) set themselves an unusual New Years resolution. Fed up with the slow economy, the lack of fair taxes being paid by large foreign businesses and a general 40 year neglect of the British manufacturing sector as a whole, they decided to see if it was possible to keep all of their money in the UK. They asked themselves the simple question can a normal British family survive on only British made goods?

12 months on and their year has not been without adversity, frustration and hard work. “The first 2-3 months were the hardest” James points out. “The research to find British made goods took over our lives and we would both be at a computer regularly until the early hours of the morning.” They also had problems doing their normal weekly shopping and would often have to visit 2-3 supermarkets in a day to get the range of goods required to feed the family only British. The family found visiting the high streets and local shopping malls to be fruitless exercises when looking for British made clothing, electronics and other such items and all this this forced them to consider alternative life-style choices to complete their challenge.

The last time there was a necessity for families in the UK to survive on only British goods was during the 2nd World War when it was nigh-on impossible for imports to reach the country. Initiatives such as ‘make do and mend’ and ‘dig for victory’ ultimately became the Bradshaw’s inspiration. “We began buying our food more directly from the farmers, growing and preserving our own fruit and veg and seeing our clothing purchases as investments that needed to be properly maintained rather than disposed of” says Emily. But despite the extra effort, 12 months on and the Bradshaw’s say that they have hit upon a new lifestyle that actually suits them better not least because they claim to now save up to 20% on their weekly shopping bills.

The last year also saw some high profile stories centred around foreign imports. The horse meat scandal raised questions about our foods supplies and the factories collapsing in Bangladesh killing over 1000 people made many think about where the things they buy were made. These issues have certainly made the Bradshaw’s think “We began to understand our place as consumers and understand the ‘real’ cost of what we buy. If something is too cheap we perhaps need to ask ourselves why” says Emily. However, the family are keen not to be labelled as protectionist or against imports. “We are certainly not anti anything. We do not believe that supporting Britain should mean that any other country loses out. We just want to celebrate and be proud of what the UK does produce” says James.

The original question the Bradshaw’s sought to answers was ‘Is it possible for a normal British family to survive on just British goods?’ The answer is no. Ultimately, there are certain things that are no longer made here in the UK; light bulbs, matches, batteries, children’s toys, printers and ink to name but a few. However, James is keen to point out that it is not all bad news “British manufacturing is still alive and kicking. There are some great UK products out there but they need much more consumer support. It is down to us to seek out British made products and demand them from retailers. The family also claim to have unearthed a rich seam, great quality British made electronics, clothing and plastics items all at competitive prices and regularly review these in their http://www.britishfamily.co.uk blog. They have even set up a dedicated website, called Britipedia, that seeks to connect consumers with British manufacturers.

By their own admission the family wandered quite naively in to their challenge, hoping perhaps to get some publicity for their cause locally, but were taken by surprise when the national and even international media began to call. “We are astounded, but immensity proud, that we have been able to bring some long overdue support to the manufacturers and farmers of Great Britain, and raise awareness of their hard-work on their behalf.” says dad James. Their numerous interviews on TV, radio and in the press have meant that they have now become well known consumer champions for UK industry, known affectionately as The British Family, but Emily is keen to note “In a way it is a shame that it’s us doing this. Promoting such an important part of our economy should not be left to a normal British family. Surely this should be the job of the Government, business leaders or maybe even celebrities.” It is perhaps testament to the neglect manufacturing feels as a sector that they were so quick to look for a champion in this normal British family.

As their initial challenge draws to a close what is next for the Bradshaw family? Well, 2013 saw them organise the first British Family Fayre, an event which attracted over 4000 people, and they already have a date set for 2014 and plan to make this years’ event even bigger and better. James is also on the committee of the new Made in Britain Campaign that have recently launched a kite-marque for British made goods. The family also have a number of other events lined up throughout the year with the sole intention of further celebrating British manufacturing and farming. But what about their challenge of buying British? James suggests they are keen to continue. “We would be silly to stop now. We have hit upon a lifestyle that suits us, that saves us money, that is ethical and socially conscious to boot. Buying British has now changed our lives forever and we have no intentions of ever going back.”

It has truly been a remarkable year for a British family with a passion for all things British.