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Over 200 designers, manufacturers, retailers and academics gathered together in Manchester earlier this month for the Make it British Forum 2017 in association with the Manchester Fashion Institute for a robust and thoughtful debate on ‘how to build a made in Britain brand’.  The conversation throughout the day was positive with a collaborative ‘can-do’ attitude as delegates agreed that is was essential to “forge together as a ‘Make it British community’ to take control of our future”.

Kate Hills, CEO and founder of Make it British summed up the sentiments of the day: “Honesty, transparency, integrity and being true to yourself – that’s what makes a British brand.  Undoubtedly the key benefits of making in Britain are the convenience and speed of manufacturing in the UK.  We’re seeing lots of new brands opting to ensure the ‘Made in Britain’ label is part of their DNA and there’s a trend for big brands to re-shore.  There is definitely power in brand British!”

The impressive line-up of speakers reflected the diversity of the delegates with a mix of start-up as well as established businesses.  Speaker Mat Booth set up Both Barrels Supply Co just 11 months ago, having spent more than a decade working for the likes of Antler, Umbro and New Balance.  He is only too aware of the obstacles that a new business has to overcome saying: “You need to be ‘British-plus’ – that is made in Britain but with quality, innovation, functionality, sustainability and integrity”.British Fashion Make It British UK Tall Guides Magazine tallguides tall women

Image: Make it British Forum 2017 panel discussion, Make It British

David Collinge of John Spencer Textiles took the opportunity to remind everyone: “We have a modern industry and can produce a product that can compete with the rest of the world – and we have a better story to tell!”

When asked the question: “how do we make ‘Made in Britain’ successful?”, Mike Stoll, co-owner of Manchester-based brand Private White VC, urged: “If we are to be succeed, we need to lobby for ‘Made in Britain’ to actually mean ‘Made in Britain’ – we need to address the labelling laws.  We need to develop manufacturing skills in schools and instil work ethic and pride in work”.

Barbara Shepherd of the Manchester Fashion Institute, who co-hosted the event in association with Make it British, was quick to highlight the potential of delivering a successful partnership between universities and businesses for a sustainable future, stating: “Working with a student placement is the most cost effective way of tapping into the latest technology, R&D and talents”.

The sell-out event also attracted an on-line audience who could pose their questions to the panel of speakers as it was streamed live from Manchester Metropolitan University.  Hailed a success, it paves the way for more regional forums across the UK in 2018 alongside the annual Meet the Manufacturer event in London in May.

For more information go to: www.makeitbritish.co.uk

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