Wednesday 16 March 2016

Community Clothing: Kickstarting British Textiles

We like to think that, given the upsurge in demand for clothing from the fast fashion boom, that our factories are full to bursting. Sadly, that's simply not the case, especially in the UK. Many of them suffer from deeply seasonal trade, and lulls in orders can lead to layoffs. Or worse, closure. There has to be a way to plug the gap.

A Kickstarter that will reach its funding target today should help, with an idea that could easily be utilised across the sector. Community Clothing views that spare factory capacity as an opportunity–to create authentically styled and carefully made British classics at a highly affordable price.

The idea is that of a new kind of co-operative. Like-minded workers uniting across the design studio and factory floor, coming together to help create something wonderful.

How do you keep quality high and costs low? The answer is simple...or rather, simplicity. Community Clothing will make a small set of items–jeans, Harrington jackets and raincoats. No huge inventory requiring complex procedures. The clothes are stripped back, clean, pure design classics that have the advantage of being simple to assemble. The materials are sourced from a very local area, in most cases no more from 25 miles from the factory in Blackburn, Lancashire.

This stripped back approach means that Community Clothing can use the same premium materials as high-end brands, and offer them at half the cost. The jeans are made from 12oz selvege denim, the jackets from high-quality cotton twill. Buttons are horn, not plastic. These garments are built to look good and last.

But the mission has a higher aim then simply to create great clothes. We're looking at nothing less than the rejuvenation of the British textile tradition. This quote from the Kickstarter says it all:

"By using local suppliers of fabrics, buttons, labels, and as many other products and service as we can we will create even more jobs within the communities where we make our clothes. And with our profits we will invest in programmes in those same communities where the factories are located, supporting skills training, personal development programmes and apprenticeships, programmes that help people into skilled jobs in the textile and garment industry."

Our View: Community Clothing are mixing smart thinking with real heart, taking spare capacity and creating something that brings benefits to everyone involved. If you get a wiggle on (i.e. today) you can still snap up a bargain bundle of sharp, British-designed and made classics. This is a model that deserves to be copied and grown across the country. When the community benefits, we all benefit.

Find out more at Community Clothing's Kickstarter page:


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