<< back to Insights

Building the British Manufacturing Industry at Pure London


A topic that featured heavily in both Pure London keynote talks and during a United Nations panel conversation with Kerry Bannigan from Conscious Fashion Campaign, Pauline Op de Beeck from Carbon Trust, Tamara Cincik from Fashion Roundtable and Melanie Traub of ethical trailblazers People Tree, is that harnessing technology, innovation and science will provide the solutions to the most damaging and problematic issues facing the fashion industry

Returning to traditional skillsets such as sewing and re-building the British manufacturing industry were also touted as critical for achieving genuine sustainability and safeguarding future generations. While discussing his love for clothes, “making stuff” and nurturing British businesses and manufacturers Patrick Grant (pictured below) said: “We need to change the overall mindset of how we produce and consume. Our British factories help sustain the local economies, we know what is made, by who and when. We have super simple stable supply chains.”

Commenting on the UK government’s rejection of all recommendations made by the Environmental Audit Committee report into fast fashion, Patrick added that there needed to be stringent regulations to clean up the industry including stricter labelling. He said: “I don’t think the audit committee went nearly far enough; I think that everything we buy that’s made of plastic should be labelled plastic. Because consumers don’t know what polyester or acrylic or nylon are. Virgin plastics should be labelled. You have a picture of a diseased lung on the back of a cigarette packet. This stuff is as toxic as nicotine. Bad fashion is literally killing stuff. If at the point of purchase, you were presented with something that showed you it, some people just might think twice.”

During the United Nations panel discussion Pauline Op de Beeck from Carbon Trust highlighted the necessity for collaboration while championing businesses who are finding unique solutions to sourcing challenges and making them open source. “We want all brands to use these innovations, there shouldn’t be a competitive advantage to it. There are great innovations in recycling, it takes a lot of research and investment but now we can breakdown previously unrecyclable material and reuse it.”

While many brands are playing catch up, Brigitte Stepputtis from Vivienne Westwood showed how successful a brand can be by putting activism, recycling, upcycling, re-use, natural and sustainable materials at the heart of business. She said; “We’re not perfect, but we strive to make our clothes with great care, with heritage, to create a modern and efficient brand which has a relevance to our time. When some brands do something incredible it helps others to follow.”

Autumn Fair 2019 in September will host talks and workshops from leaders in sustainability. James George, Business Engagement Manager, Ellen Macarthur Foundation will talk on the Inspiring Retail Stage on the evolving nature of the circular economy and what true sustainability looks like. Agnès Gendry, Head of Buying, Lush Cosmetics will walk visitors through how they work with suppliers to understand their ethical and sustainable credentials in order to drive visibility in their supply chain. And David Meller, Responsible Sourcing Director, NSF International will be running a session called ‘Plastic Isn’t The Problem’ that will educate buyers on the bigger plastics picture – whilst single use plastics is a critical issue for consumers, there are other considerations on the path of achieving true sustainability.

A new international Sourcing zone is also being launched at Autumn Fair this year. Retailers looking to benefit from markets outside of the UK will be able to build essential relationships with leading international exporters and manufacturers at this year’s show. In turn, manufacturers from key sourcing regions around the world will have the opportunity to exhibit new products and showcase techniques to the forward-looking retail market. From a sustainability perspective, this access to international brands can provide opportunities to assess how transparent a company’s supply chains are.  

Autumn Fair, the season’s number one sourcing destination for home and gift retail, takes place between 1-4 September at Birmingham’s NEC. Visit www.autumnfair.com

The UK’s leading Festival of Fashion, Pure London takes place at Olympia London, and the AW20/21 edition will run from 9th – 11th February 2020. Visitwww.purelondon.com  

<< back to Insights