Back when we started manufacturing full-time in 2016 the world was a very different place, but one thing was the same; Starting a textiles manufacturer in Scotland was/is really difficult. Keeping one going, well that’s another matter entirely.
Back then, the one thing we knew for sure was that we needed to approach production differently. The traditional factory model clearly wasn’t working and we were seeing business after business either go under or move their production out of Scotland.
Everyone we spoke to or asked for advice all said the same thing; Starting a successful factory in Scotland can’t be done, and why would you bother anyway? You are never going to make any money.
Luckily we thought that was nonsense! It was clear to us that what needed to happen was a complete overhaul of the whole way we do business. It was time to take a step and reimagine how a textiles factory could look like.
The first thing we needed for this was a vision. A clear framework we could build everything around. What we needed was a manifesto! A simple set of design and manufacturing principles that would underpin every product we made and how we would a approach it.
Key principles we decided on were;
Need - Is it a product our clients and their customers want
Simplicity - Both in it’s finish and construction - No unnecessary details
Minimalism - Both in fabric use and design - No thrills, embellishments or impractical elements
Logic - Never reinvent the wheel, start with the existing designs, develop, improve and innovate to a new product
Longevity - It’s got to last
Disassembly - It’s got to be easy to disassemble even if there aren’t the systems to do so yet
Practicality - Pockets, ease of movement, size of bags etc all need to be considered
Versatilely - No product should have just one use or function
Timeless - Nothing seasonal or ‘trendy’
Evolution - Of design, concept and production - develop, evaluate and improve
At the time we had no idea how critical these would come to be in everything we did. There was no product range at this point and no business model as such but with these rules in place we set about building what would become Assemble, our standardised Textiles product range.
It seems a bit silly now looking back but those 10 points are what kept us on track throughout the ups and downs of the last 6 years and to this day they still inform everything we do.
Looking forward, the environmental impact, customer knowledge of ethics, law changes and and increasing wages in developing countries are going to turn the fashion and textiles industry on their heads. The companies that survive and excel in this new (and better) industry will be the ones with clear vision and a good understanding of their core values.
Adam Robertson - Managing Director