Fashion manufacturing locally is not a new concept. It has been done by brands large and small for as long as manufacturing has existed. But with advances in technology that helped make the world more reachable, many have tried their fortunes far afield hoping to improve prices, lead times or quality. Fashion Insiders platform member London Contour Experts examines why local manufacturing is still relevant in today’s day and age and how it can benefit fashion brands.
With the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp being valued as an assurance of quality, creativity and ethics, more businesses are realizing the opportunity of keeping their operations close to home.
As a luxury product development and sampling business based in London, we specialise in stretch based bodywear; lingerie, swim, activewear and lounge. With a highly experienced in-house technical team we are able to take a product from concept to completion with the timeliness that is seldom possible abroad. Being a design-led fashion business, we understand the global marketplace and the change of pace currently occurring within the sector.
One of the major disruptions we are seeing clients struggle with is the change in traditional buyer behaviour and loss of seasonal buying calendars. Department stores are investing in cross-functional spaces, for example, the Body Studio in Selfridges, which sells everything from foundation underwear to daring lingerie, gym gear with street-wear layers, swim to the beach, and even loungewear you could wear on a long-haul flight. This means that whilst most of a department store’s income is from tried and tested brand staples and concessions, there is a rotational space available that they fill with consignment brands, rather than own-buy.
For a high fashion, niche company, still finding their feet and testing design concepts, this is an impossible investment to make every 12 weeks without the guarantee of sell-through or reorders. We often work with emerging designers to offer a point of difference for these key clients, in order to build buyer relationships and maintain visibility within the market. We require no minimums so the retail stores can cherry pick across a collection, order custom colour-ways or prints, and have the product in store within short lead time. This is often not possible when liaising with factories in the Far East, Brazil or Europe.
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For the department stores, this minimizes the risk of investing in a small brand, they can quickly react to trends, keep their e-commerce platforms fresh and offer limited edition capsules from cult brands. For your brand, this lean stock holding means greater control over cash flow whilst providing a vital window to the world and the cache that certain stockists bring.
Smaller retail stores specialising in niche brands or boutique gyms with a small retail space can also provide an innovative way of displaying your brand and directly connecting with your target audience. Personal trainers, models and wellness writers are all using the power of social media to build their professional profile.
We have worked with small retail stores on their own capsules, swimwear models launching their own brands and even a female bodybuilder, all providing something unique within a highly competitive marketplace.
For each project, we work closely with the business owners in order to build a product that is functional, high quality, and desirable – a true reflection of their personality and ethics. With buzzwords such as ‘sustainable’, ‘authentic’, ‘luxury’ and ‘ethical’ being misused and diluted, it’s more important than ever for new brands to follow through on the promises made to their customers. Reputation is everything so providing transparency about production methods employed and showing a genuine passion for your customer’s experience is vital.
Whilst you build your customer base, market your product and juggle the thousand other tasks an entrepreneur undertakes daily, you are assured that we and local manufacturing studios like us are working behind the scenes to get your garments to the standard your customers deserve and you can be proud of.
Although developing your collection locally can be perceived as prohibitively expensive, we believe that it’s worth making this investment at the beginning of the process, rather than paying later to fix mistakes or allocating an unnecessary portion of your budget to stock production.
The convenience of working with a locally based team, who can guide you through the whole process, is so reassuring for clients. We witness this daily at our London studio.
We meet many entrepreneurs who have outsourced these tasks to manufacturing agents and teams abroad with little control over the results. They are often disappointed with the quality of the product and have little personal contact with the factories when things go wrong. Our fully factored services are competitively priced and accessible, varying with the complexity of a project. Weigh this up against plane tickets, unsold stock and correcting mistakes; it’s easy to understand why people choose to keep their collection development close to home until they are confident with the results ahead of a factory run, in a time frame they are comfortable with.
Weigh this up against plane tickets, unsold stock and correcting mistakes; it’s easy to understand why people choose to keep their collection development close to home until they are confident with the results ahead of a factory run, in a time frame they are comfortable with.
But, what if you want to manufacture NOT locally. Offshore manufacturing has its own pros and cons so in that case make sure to read about Offshore manufacturing if it’s suitable for your business model.