UK fabric makers descend on London sourcing event

Clothing and fabric manufacturers from all corners of the UK descended on East London last week for the first-ever Meet the Manufacturer event.

Organised by Make it British, the sourcing event attracted nearly 3000 visitors who were there to meet some of the UK’s leading manufacturers and craftspeople, from lace weavers and yarn spinners to kilt makers and fabric printers.

Running alongside the trade show, Mary Portas and Ian Maclean, managing director of knitwear maker John Smedley, headlined the Meet the Manufacturer conference with more than 20 industry experts passing on their advice and real-life experiences of building Great British brands, how to successfully manufacture in the UK and work with British factories.

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Opening the conference, Portas urged delegates to get behind British manufacturing.

“I published an essay last week making the case that ‘Intervention Works’. That if the right local people get together and have a plan they can re-imagine their high street and protect a vital community resource,” she said.

“Whether it’s a high street full of lovely independent shops full of treats and surprises, one with libraries, doctor’s surgeries, community spaces and hubs, open markets, little parks and benches and coffee shops what we’ve proved since the start of the review three years ago is that if people do something then things get better. And it’s the same for manufacturing.”

Commenting on the success of the conference, Mark Hubert, group director of Sudbury-based silk weavers, Vanners, who exhibited at the two-day trade show, said: "As manufacturers, we’re not usually in the limelight, but this event gave us a rare opportunity to showcase our product and make lots of new connections – not only with potential customers, but also our fellow manufacturers.

"The event was extremely well attended and there was a real sense of excitement throughout – and we’ve certainly come away feeling positive that this could be the beginning of something new for British manufacturing,” he added.

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