Celebrating UK textile creativity in Paris
UKFT held a reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Paris last night to celebrate the rich heritage and innovative future of the UK textile industry.
This event, held during Première Vision Paris, was part of a campaign to raise the profile of the UK textile industry internationally at events in key markets in Europe and Asia, supported by the Clothworkers’ Company.
Ilaria Regondi, Deputy Trade Commissioner for Europe and Head of the Department for International Trade in France, welcomed representatives from UK textile mills, cloth merchants, print designers, as well as international retailers and brands including Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten, Temperley, Vivienne Westwood, LF Corp, John Lewis, Victoria Beckham, Brora and The White Company, to the stunning British Ambassador’s Residence in Paris.
“The UK has long had a worldwide reputation for producing the finest quality fabrics and our manufacturing sector has been undergoing a great renaissance in recent years,” said Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT.
“From exquisite cashmere to beautiful woollen and worsted fabrics, tweed to linen and silk through to the most hi-tech fabrics used in a bewildering array of end uses, the UK textile industry produces the finest fabrics in the world, in a highly efficient and environmentally responsible way,” he said.
At Première Vision, UKFT had two showcase stands to highlight the craftsmanship and expertise of the UK textile industry, but also it its diversity. The fabrics stand, supported by Campaign for Wool and the Clothworkers’ Company, featured several companies boasting more than 250 years of producing incredible fabrics in the UK. But the industry is not just based on heritage, it is also extremely innovative.
As manufacturers look to capitalise on the growing demand for UK-made fabric, investment in textile manufacturing reached a ten year high of £438 million in 2018 and spending on R&D has more than doubled in the last decade.
Projects such as the Future Fashion Factory based in Leeds are bringing together manufacturers and academia to develop new manufacturing techniques using digitalisation, and virtual and augmented reality to ensure that UK textile companies are using the most advanced manufacturing techniques. The UK is also home to exciting companies that are developing new fabrics made from pineapple fibre, companies looking to develop new alternatives to leather and companies investing heavily in designing circularity into a product before it is produced. There is even a UK start-up which is experimenting with growing cotton in Essex.
The UK also has a world-leading textile design industry, boasting the second biggest country presence within the Designs section at Première Vision. UK studios are sought after around the world, creating textile patterns and surface designs for all categories including menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, accessories and knits.
“The UK’s textile design and manufacturing excellence means that our fabrics can regularly be seen on catwalks and boutiques around the world,” said Mansell. “Globally renowned brands from Chanel to Givenchy and Roksanda to Ralph and Russo regularly rely on the UK’s fantastic craftsmanship but there are challenges and uncertainty ahead.”
UKFT supports a wide variety of UK fashion and textile companies enter new markets through the Department for International Trade’s Tradeshow Access Programme but the association believes much more could be possible with further support. Mansell urged the UK government to extend its export support to help the UK textile industry reach new markets and attract new buyers.
“At Première Vision, I was struck by the positive approach of UK exhibitors,” he concluded. “There is an enormous pride in the cloth and designs we produce and in the highly skilled workforce that make these amazing products. The UK textile industry has faced many challenges in the past and has survived and prospered.
“I am convinced that we will create many new opportunities in the future.”