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Fashion Manufacturing in the UK- What's happening!

Last week saw the start of the new Mary Portas programme, Mary's Bottom Line. Mary wants to revitalise British fashion manufacturing and sets up a factory at the Headen & Quarmby textiles factory in Middleton – half an hour from central Manchester. Headen and Quarmby, established in 1935,  ceased trading eight years ago. Thirty years ago Middleton was an industrial hub with 11 clothing factories, now the area has high levels of unemployment and deprivation.

Mary has recruited eight apprentices- five women and three men aged between 20 - 35 and is utilisng the old seamstresses and the last stretch lacemaker in Nottingham, John Stacey to manufacture her knickers that will compete with imports, many made in sweat shops across the world.

David Nieper


However, British manufacturing is not all gloom and doom.  One such well kept secret is the company David Nieper, based in Alfreton Derbyshire.  In 2011 David Nieper celebrated 50 years of manufacturing and is a thriving, successful, family owned and run fashion house, designing and manufacturing clothing across Europe, selling direct to women. Indeed one of the best selling lines is lingerie- and that is to the French! David Nieper has consistently stayed ahead of the game.

In 2010, the company established "The David Nieper Fashion Academy" - . The Academy's mission is to help fill the skills gaps in the fashion industry by offering skills training to those dreaming of a career in fashion, those seeking a career change or returning to work. The Academy advises companies in the fashion sector who need advice and support to fill their own skills gaps. In addition close links to higher education and schools means that the fashion sector has a wealth of talent available.  

Chocolate Dog Marketing Services developed the brand and communications materials and project managed the website. In addition we helped develop the creative campaign for two competitions run by David Nieper; Fashion for Free, a schools competion for 23 schools across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and the David Nieper Student Fashion competition, where the top prize is an internship at David Nieper.

We also worked to develop the fashion portal, The DNA of Fashion, and the DNA brand and communications campaign. This is a resource for the whole of the fashion industry, schools, colleges, universities, businesses and individuals alike. So fashion now has an interactive resource- so use it! .

Make it in Great Britain


Other action is coming from the UK Fashion and Textile Association. This works for the benefit of fashion, clothing and knitting businesses across the UK, but doesn't have the profile of Mary Portas! UKFT guides and advises its members on all the essential aspects of running a business and supplying clothing and knitwear to the global marketplace. Through its export division it gives help and advice on how to achieve sales in overseas markets.

The Government has launched a ‘Make it in Great Britain’ campaign. There are several ways to get involved:

  • Be a part of the Make it in Great Britain Exhibition – If you want to be part of an engaging experience that demonstrates how successful and innovative British manufacturing can be, and you have a cutting edge product or, processes made or designed in Great Britain, then you could be part of the Exhibition at the Science Museum. To register an interest, email and title your email “Exhibition” or go to the holding pages to register for further information.
  • Twitter – Follow @MakeitinGB on Twitter for the latest news about the campaign.
  • Share your case studies – To bring the campaign to life, the Make it in Great Britain team is looking for case studies that they can use in media activity, highlighting both the campaign and your organisation or business. If you think you may have a case study that could be used, please email
  • Visit the Exhibition at the Science Museum in London between 24 July and 9 September 2012.

Save Our Skills


Drapers Record launched " Save our Skills" campaign last year and continues to publicise the skills issues facing the British Fashion Industry. We have really talented designers and high quality goods. Nothing stands still in fashion but the principles of knowing your customer and understand their behaviour are critical.