A growing number of start-up businesses and SMEs are choosing to manufacture their products in the UK, and l’étale is no exception. Even companies who previously used to produce their wares in Asia are returning to the UK. But why? For us, it was a no brainer. The factory we work with is an expert in its field, communication with a British team is miles easier than navigating language barriers and time differences and of course there are the social reasons; we know the conditions our tailors work in are humane, the cost and effect on the environment of shipping our trunks is less and if we want to visit our factories we just shoot down the M4 and we’re there – less carbon footprint all round.
But not everyone agrees that manufacturing in the UK is the way forward. There are cons to UK production and last year the CBI reported that growth in manufacturing in the UK had stalled for the first time in two years. Businesses often find that Asian factories are more flexible, have access to more materials and ultimately can cost less. Along with that, producing abroad can be seen to open up more doors for international expansion.
That said, the fashion industry is one that remains largely patriotic and even high street shops are turning to home turf for their collections – whether it is sourcing tweed from Harris, using Liberty prints or lace from Nottingham. Keeping manufacturing close to home and sourcing materials from their native cities ensure that products are of the highest quality possible – a factor that is extremely important to l’étale. We know that the trunks we’re making are the best they can be and we actually check each pair ourselves before sending them out. If we weren’t happy with them, we wouldn’t send them to you.
The ladies who make our trunks have been working as swimwear tailors in Poole, Dorset, since the 80s – many having been trained from a young age and have been there ever since. When the factory lost some of its bigger clients to manufacturers abroad it faced closure. But a small group of the workers clubbed together and managed to keep it going on a smaller scale. Since then it has changed hands several times, but gone from strength to strength and is committed to creating high-quality, sustainable products.
We sent a photographer down to the factory in Dorset to take some pictures of the ladies who make your trunks so you can see for yourself how they come together, take a look…