Better Buy British…Because it’s the Best

“Don’t buy British, just because it’s British…buy British because it’s the best” was the message delivered by Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of Derbyshire based fashion house David Nieper at a fashion industry event attended by over 3,000 people last week in Tobacco Dock, East London.

Christopher was one of an illustrious collection of fashion designers and industry personalities including; Nigel Cabourn, Dr Martens, Emma Willis, Patrick Grant (BBC 2 Great British Sewing Bee) and Caroline Rush, CEO, The British Fashion Council who spoke at the ‘Make it British – Meet the Manufacturer’ event.

Christopher used his speech to explain how his company benefits from ‘Made in Britain’ he commented:

“Customers like to know where their clothes are made and there is a tremendous appetite for well made good quality British fashion.”

The speakers agreed that the ‘offshore’ trend might be reversed to ‘re-shore’ with a modern efficient manufacturing sector producing high quality British fashion.

Christopher & Heather Mills

There was also an acceptance that while British manufacturers would be unlikely to compete with off shore manufacturers on pricing and mass market production, the UK scored highly in the premium and high end markets, excelling in quality and niche products that could be turned around quickly to meet shorter lead times from retailers.

A panel discussion chaired by The Observer’s Lucy Siegle, debated the possibility, probability and desirability of a return to manufacturing textiles and clothes in the UK, and a variety of strategies and viewpoints were aired.

There was also much focus on fostering new talent and developing strategies to encourage young people to pursue careers in fashion and textile manufacturing.

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper commented:

“20 years ago we had a huge decision to make, do we stay in Britain or do we go offshore like everybody else? We chose to stay in Britain and have never looked back. Since then the company has grown every year and we’ve remained steadfast in our commitment to local British skills.”

Kate Mills, Founder of ‘Make it British’ commented:

“Over the past year UK manufacturing has gone from strength to strength – the Alliance report estimates that 15, 000 new jobs should be created in the UK textile, apparel and leather goods manufacturing by 2020. This on top of the 5000 already created already created since 2013, over £13 million has been invested in the industry from the Regional Growth since 2013, with much more to follow.”

This was the second ‘Make it British – Meet the Manufacturer’ event, which was founded by Kate Hills, who after a career of over twenty years working as a buyer for brands such as Burberry, Levis and M&S became disillusioned with the short term vision that many British brands had about where products are sourced, and created ‘Make it British’ to promote British manufacturing.

The ‘Make it British’ symbol is now becoming something of a badge of honour, and a symbol of brand integrity among the fashion and textiles industry.