Fashion designers traditionally become the brand, going through the agony of deciding on the cut, the cloth and stand up as the heroes that made it all happen.
Yet in this world of ever decreasing natural resources, how much time do they devote to considering the impact of their choices? As an ex-creative director of a womenswear label, I can tell you, the majority have not considered the knock-on effect of their choices – it is time for real change.
As the world becomes more in tune with one of the planets biggest killers (the fashion industry) it is my belief that less emphasis should be given to the designers and much more to the manufacturers who actually make it happen.
In my humble opinion, textile technologists working in manufacturing are the unsung heroes, they are the ones responsible for both apparel / accessories and the textiles they are made from. As a textile technologist they typically assess the textiles and their fibres, identifying their feasibility for the product use.
They may for example oversee the dyeing, printing and finishing processes ensuring quality in areas such as strength, durability, colourfastness, and water and chemical resistance, advising on the technical aspects of the product. Then they are the ones liaising with designers, and adapting their designs to suit production methods, making and sizing pre-production apparel / accessories, sourcing fabrics (linings+) and fastenings, undertaking quality evaluations of materials and checking the quality of the final product.
If the manufacturer were the brand to be recognised over the “designer” we would live in a more responsible world.
The manufacturer witnesses the waste first hand, seeing (for example) a mens tie cut on the bias, uses a little over 1 metre square cloth with more than 80% of the cloth no longer able to be used for another tie showing the same pattern. Desired by the “designer”, yet troubling to the manufacturer…
Whilst Brexit sweeps the country and makes those who continue to manufacture overseas very nervous, the opportunity for those on UK shores to step up is never more apparent.
As these worlds collide – the need for better, more transparent manufacturing in light of dwindling resources and the need to find local (UK shores) manufacturers – your time is now.
Manufacturers stand up and be counted.
Build your brands, speak out and be heard.
Let the designers and their retailers know, your time has come.
You will be the answer they are looking for, you will jointly brand the product.
You will be the brand the influencers and shoppers seek out, discuss and brag about.
Manufacturers you have the wind behind you, the battle for brand dominance is knocking at your door. Show the pride you have in your workforce, share their stories and tag the ones that matter. Show them what you are made of and capable of, the lengths you will go to ensuring the product requests are to the absolute best of your ability.
Should the roles be reversed? Maybe not.
Should it be a more equitable partnership? Definitely!
Written by Colin Gilchrist (Social Tailor)