Is it me or is it nearly impossible to make clothes in England?

I am looking to manufacture a small range of extremely well made, hard wearing surf shorts in England at the moment.
Being an ethical British brand trying to keep as much of the process at arms reach is proving extremely tuff to say the least, however should it be this way?

Having been in the garment industry 10 years I am fully aware of why people make abroad, yet I am trying to find out exactly what our shores have to offer and whether there are small outfits suited to small specialised needs.

In an era where craftsmanship, service, understanding and honesty are needed more and more in a diluted, me-too world, wouldn't it be great to know that your free range boardies were locally sewn and locally sold, just like your tatties!

Idealism aside , there are many factories that have been shut down recently, including the Burberry one, where I am guessing there are a lot of skilled machinists with a fantastic yet dying skill base going to waste.
With all the young start up brands, struggling to get going, and not knowing how to source, let alone being able to meet the huge far east minimums, maybe a local more reactive co-operative could exist to boost and enable our huge talents to grow?

Any help on this would be great..


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Hello Everyone,

I've read the discussion about this topic here and find it very interesting.

I used to make my own seasonal women's RTW collections with manufacturers dotted around London, but wasn't satisfied with what I found so I set up an in-house sewing unit. This in house unit has now grewn into a separate sampling and small production unit called Eden Studio.

I have created a setup where we can make garments from initial sketch right through to sealed samples and production. Garments we have made include very thin lingerie, chiffon dresses, wedding dresses, trousers, skirts, blouses, tailored jackets, thick outer coats, fake fur coats, leather, etc etc...

We also look after our environment by recycling all paper and card and we donate all offcuts that designers do not want back to two local schools. A 10 point ethical plan is also in action.

If any of you are still looking for sampling and small runs please do get in contact, and spread the word :)

Our address is Eden Studio, Truebell House, 5B Lombard Road, London SW19 3TZ. email and mobile 07766963780

All the best,

Catharina Eden

Hi Catharina,


Do you by any chance do hand bags or shoes?  I'm looking for someone to make some samples for me. 



Hi all,

Ethical Fashion Forum have been receiving repeated requests for information UK based suppliers, manufacturers and artisans to the fashion industry. We are busy building a database of these businesses and have dedicated this month's Ethical Fashion Social to the subject. On Thursday 26th August we partner with Eden Studio London, one of the UK's first ethical production unit to show case manufacturers, suppliers and artisans who are breaking the outsourcing trend by providing an alternative manufacture base here in Britain.

We aim to bring these manufacturers together with designers looking to source from them for this networking event. We invite all interested to attend and exhibit at the event. This discussion highlights the demand for British manufacture and it would be fantastic for you all to attend - to share your experiences with producing in Britain - what have been the problems? What are the positives? Who have you worked with?

I would appreciate any information, manufactures/supplier/artisan contacts and comments on the matter! Please email Emily at

Very best,

Emily Pearce
Project Manager
Ethical Fashion Forum
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 0 Introduction
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 1 The Design Process
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 2 The Design Process
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 3 Manufacturing
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 4 Negotiatiing Skills
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 5 Finance
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 6 Anecdotes
Designer Manufacturing Handbook 7 Jargon

This was a free e-book from a former quango.
There are still printed copies at the offices that serviced it who are probably open to offers on prices - contact Industry Forum Services, 5 Portland Place, re the former Apparel and Textle Challenge.
It was published alongside a database of clothing firms in 1998 as volume 2, but apparently the information dates quickly and there probably aren't any paper copies left. A bit of the 1998 factory listing supplies on as lists of factories attending "meet the buyer" events with details about what they're good at but nothing about minimum orders or whether they're extra cheap or expensive.
Manchester Knitware factories - 19 of them in 1998
Light sewing or "ladies light sewing" factories - 23 of them in 1998
great links!!
I do not know wether your post is still effective, But i should say you have really got an insight into the industry. It is true that people are more and mire tended to abroad brand, the reason is so simple some of these brand are in deed excellent, The design is cool, the quality is fine while the price is reseaonale. And the price of these abroad products affects people's buying most.
I think you are right just because it is easy and probably cheaper to take manufacturing abroad definitely doesn't mean you should, I like the fact that you want to keep it local. I know of a few stores who only sell local material locally manufactured, but you look like people have already come to your aid

Did you every try mensITALY and mensusa?? go follow the link.



Hello Riz,


I agree with your posting entirely. I am also looking to manufacture a line of yoga clothing for men using UK based seamstresses / tailors etc. After trawling the internet for leads all im finding are people offering wedding dress alterations etc.

I had thought to approach colleges / universities direct and seeing if there would be a way of arranging a work project as part of a fashion design / textiles final year- this could be a paid for project.


Your idea of forming a co-operative is a great one - If a few small businesses like us get together to form a buying-group we maybe would have enough buying power to interest such a co-operative.

I see your posting was six months ago so let me know if you have got any further with your searching, im the mean time I'll keep looking - cheers!

I am just now reading your post which was posted 2009. I need to pay more attention. Anyway, here in the US we have the exact same problem. We thought of starting a garment coop using local seamstresses. Right now I make everything myself as I do custom work to a degree, or made to measure. But I figure there is always a way to work it out.  I hope you have gotten further since that post.
Fashion Enter do small scale production at a minimum of 100 in their workshop in London. Or if you go on their site they have a forum where people post wanting work or looking for experienced people to pattern cut or whatever. That might be somewhere to start. Good luck.

Hi Riz,

I know some manufacturers but are from China, Bali, Vietnam... I only know a company that work in Spain. It is:

They do clothes and they also sell your products. They have nice thinks. You can contact by the contact section.

Good luck! Have a nice day


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