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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(I've just realised that this thread is dead except for a suggestion in Spain. Never mind: maybe people use it for reference.)

I think the problem is lack of trade directories, and the information to write them very cheaply, as well as lack of factories.Government could release data from their VAT records to help with this. If a rough list of every clothing factory in the UK can be had for free, it's easier for other people to embellish it with information like minimum orders, machines used and materials stocked.

Companies house will release data for money, and one or two directories list factories that way such as

I tried a freedom of information request to get VAT data by trade, but was told that it's confidential:

I tried asking my MP via to forward an email to HMRC asking for a change in what's confidential - maybe with a tick box on the VAT form - but got a brushoff from whatever civil servant half-read the letter before replying. Maybe someone else will have better luck! Maybe mentioning government hopes of rebalancing the ecomony or something would get better reply.

A few months ago I happened to google "lingerie manufacturers leicestershire", as you do, and found two or three firms set-up to make hose-shaped clothes like T shirts & undies including this one with a video on its site. So there is a lot of hidden industry to discover. And searching near one, either for similar keywords on google or on google street view, can find clues to others. A piece about the "Shut Up Bag" - - gave enough hints to track down a cut-make-and-trim factory called Micheal Edward Ltd in Harringay, and from street view next door. Just recently another cropped-up on seeking investment: .

Hope this helps someone; anyone looking for shoes feel free to contact me for suppliers

John Robertson

i wish i was there....great English fashion...

You can see for yourself! Do not know if I can help you


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