The UK fashion industry is one of the leading industries within the UK economy, which in 2009 directly generated £6.6billion of GVA. Within this sector, the high-end designer fashion sector is thriving. It is highly influential across the entire industry, pushing the boundaries of what fashion is today.
Alongside the high-end designer businesses, the UK has maintained a small specialist and highly skilled manufacturing presence, completing the innovative high-end supply chain which should be credited, supported and celebrated.
The Fashion Alliance is supporting both the high-end designers and manufactures in this supply chain through two sets of Toolkits that have come about through focused engagement, research and collaboration with the sector.
One Toolkit is aimed at the designers. Its focus is on production management, and helping designers communicate their needs effectively with production units.
The other Toolkit is aimed at the specialist high-end manufacturers and addresses issues key issues relevant to their businesses including growth and productivity.
Common to both sets of Toolkits is a recommended Code Of Practice which the Fashion Alliance hope the sector will adopt. It will provide manufacturers and designers with a two-way assurance that both will adhere to a professional set of standards and working practises.
The Alliance Fashion and Manufacturing Toolkit has been created to help designers communicate their needs effectively to production units.
Relationships between designers and manufacturers can be problematic for those who fail to understand the basic requirements. Even the most experienced of Production Managers find new challenges and problems with many of their orders. It is important therefore for designers to build up a good working relationship with their factories and to remember that factories are businesses that rely on smooth and constant production to create profits.
The knowledge compiled in this Toolkit has been gathered from industry professionals with many years of experience in dealing with garment production. It has been designed to start you off on the right foot – as you become more familiar with the materials, you can use them to develop your own processes that suit your needs and the needs of your factories.
In the UK, production units go under many names but the standard model is ‘CMT Factories’. CMT stands for Cut, Make and Trim – meaning that the factory does not supply any of the fabric or components, apart from thread and bag, and only carries out production with the materials supplied.
This is the common method of manufacture for woven garments in the UK. If you develop production in the Far East it is more common to buy garments as ‘fully factored’, i.e. where the factory supplies everything from fabric to buttons to zips. In addition knitwear sourced in the UK is generally produced as fully factored, as the manufacture of the garments is often carried out by the producers of the yarn.
The golden rule is to establish exactly what is included in the price before you confirm an order (or docket) to the factory. Having this clear from the start means that you are in full control of your profit margin and it prevents unexpected surprises when the garments are ready and the factory needs paying.
This Toolkit will give you a good start, but ultimately having good relationships will help ease any problems. Don’t expect to build a great working relationship if you are frequently changing orders and dockets once they have been issued. Don’t forget that, as far as a factory is concerned, time really is money!
The Resource Guide offers a selection of relevant and useful sources of information, advice and tools for designers and manfacturers.
The Alliance partners make every effort to provide information which is relevant and as complete, up-to-date and accurate as possible. Any information and material provided is for informative purposes only and should not diminish the individual's obligation to seek appropriate professional advice where such is required or necessary. Neither the Alliance members nor any of their employees, agents or subcontractors can be held responsible or liable to users of the information or any other person for any errors or omissions, or for any losses, costs or claims which arise as a result of relying on such information or advice.
 'The Value of the UK Fashion Industry' report; Oxford Economics / British Fashion Council; September 2010
An alliance of four key partners working together to support the UK's high-end designer manufacturing sector