SPEECH: Mary Portas on UK manufacturing

LI brings you an excerpt from Mary Portas’ inspirational speech on UK manufacturing, made at the launch of her new brand Kinky Knickers in Liberty.

“We decided to create a brand called Kinky Knickers. We thought it was kinky because it was mad, it was British and we were doing something very mad and very British, thinking that through the ten of us we could maybe re-invigorate manufacturing in this country and put a sense of pride back into making, creating and selling British. We started four months ago and I can’t believe it, we have launched a product that I generally think will not only be sold across this country, but I think we have something that will be sold globally.

We need to sell 100,000 pairs of knickers a year to keep this factory going and to keep these people in work. So far, Liberty – bless you – you have taken the first 2,000 and launched it for us. I know ASOS are here tonight. I am asking for 5000 of you, ASOS, because I know you will sell them. Boots have gone to 10,000. John Lewis, I am hoping, are a good few thousand. We had a little dream. We had a little window of opportunity where oil prices and cotton prices were going up in China and we just opened that window and we all jumped through it.

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We found one of the last stretch lace manufacturers in Nottingham, who actually believed that one day manufacturing would come back. He kept his costs so low that he actually lived on a barge outside his factory. That’s what the British spirit is about.

I know, and I was talking to Catherine, who has a small lingerie label that she manufactures in the UK, and there was someone else who I spoke to tonight, there are nuggets out there who are doing this, but this I want to be big. I don’t want nuggets. We don’t do things by half. We are British.”

Read the full version in the March issue of Lingerie Insight.