i.LEVEL visited London’s ‘Meet the Manufacturer’ trade show at Shoreditch last week. The event, focusing on UK-only textile and clothing manufacturers, has grown to become a mainstay of the UK fashion calendar. This is due to a resurgence in fashion manufacturing either ‘nearshore’ in Eastern Europe or, for this show, within the UK itself.
It’s no small beer either. UK textile manufacturing is now worth £9bn to the UK economy and is experiencing strong domestic and export growth. Last year 5,000 new jobs were created in the sector with a further 15,000 new jobs estimated by 2020.
As fashion wholesale software specialists, the growth in manufacturing within the UK has implications for us, not least for those aspects of our software geared towards the fashion supply and distribution chain on these shores (for example, we’re integrated with OBS Logistics, Red Prairie, Hallett Logistics and Torque and last year we launched our UK fashion warehouse barcode scanner).
So what did we think of Meet the Manufacturer 2017? On a practical level we’re glad they installed air conditioning after last year’s bake fest – it was the hottest day of the year in London and the event needed cooling. We also missed Charlotte Meek of The Stitch Society’s talk because a fire alarm cleared out the entire exhibition hall.
Fire alarm dramas aside, the show was busy with a steady flow of visitors to both the main textile manufacturing hall as well as the fashion brand annex. The fashion brands themselves reported a good level of buyer interaction and order interest.
What stood out was the quality inherent in UK textile manufacturing. Exhibitors like The Harris Tweed Authority and Marlborough of England demonstrated the craftsmanship, detail and exquisite refinement inherent in UK fashion whilst brands like Wild Things showed the quintessential quirkiness and innovation we see in British fashion design. All left their mark on us.
Our only chief criticism was the Enterprise Hall which was stuck on the fringes of the show – you’d only have stumbled across it if you were attending a seminar slot. Looking like it had been left there as an afterthought, we’d recommend that this section is re-positioned in 2018.
All told it was a good show and it feels like we’re at the beginning of a true renaissance in UK fashion manufacturing. Fanciful? Given that 2016 saw cotton-spinning returning to the country for the first time in a generation, maybe not!
With over 130 fashion brands using our fashion wholesale software and related solutions like concessions, we visit all the main trade shows to talk to clients and keep our fingers close to the pulse of fashion. If you’d like to meet us at a show, please let us know and we’ll plan to meet you there. Just drop a line to or call 01234 761 757.