Great British Sewing Bee’s Patrick Grant launches ‘Community Clothing’ social enterprise
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As we all know him best, Patrick Grant is a judge on The Great British Sewing Bee. In non-sewing circles he is of course better known as a British Fashion Designer and today he launches an exciting new social clothing initiative dedicated to making clothes, creating jobs and restoring pride in the UK textile working community.
What is this exciting new project?
This new project is called ‘Community Clothing‘ and aims to find a solution to the big structural issues that face the UK clothing and textile businesses. These problems include huge seasonality of demand (getting ready for new season fashion ranges) and the creation of long slack periods in the production schedules (the months in between).
“In Britain we have a proud tradition of making the very finest textiles and the very best clothes. But the British clothing industry faces all sorts of serious challenges. For several months every year even the best British factories are nowhere near full. This can lead to seasonal hiring and firing, zero hours contracts, or worse – factory closures’’, says Grant.
How is Community Clothing planning to achieve this?
The social enterprise is planning to use the spare capacity in slack periods (when factories aren’t making clothes) to make great, cost engineered clothes and sell these directly to the consumer (that’s you!). This will cut out the usual costs associated with wholesale and retail mark-ups.
“By designing with simple manufacturing in mind, these products can be sewn in the same premium fabrics and with the same quality as the best high-end designer clothes. And with our profits we will invest in programmes in those same communities where the factories are located. We will support skills training, personal development programmes and apprenticeships that help get people into skilled work in the textile and garment industry”.
How can you help?
The project is starting small with the initial goal of raising £75K on crowd funding platform Kickstarterover the next four weeks. The rewards for supporting Community Clothing will include a range of quality, staple everyday garments. The first range includes men’s and women’s jeans(priced at £49), a classic Harrington jacket(priced at £79) and a cotton twill raincoat( priced at £119). Production will begin in March with delivery to customers who have pledged in July. Starting as an online store, the plan is to open the first Community Clothing shop this summer.
“I believe that everyone in Britain should be able to afford to buy exceptional quality British-made clothes, and to play their own part in sustaining and creating British jobs. Community Clothing will make British clothes affordable to all. I also feel passionately that at the heart of great communities lie great employers and that at the heart of personal pride lies a great job. Community Clothing will support great employers and great workers in communities across Britain.”
Who are the British Manufacturer’s and suppliers involved with this social enterprise?
Community Clothing has established links with a network of factories across England, Scotland and Wales in traditional clothing and textile making communities. The initial production run of jeans and outerwear will be manufactured at the Cookson & Clegg clothing factory in Blackburn. Established in 1860 Cookson & Clegg originally manufactured leather work-wear for coal deliverymen, quickly moving on to produce uniforms for the British Army but following the loss of military contracts to overseas manufacturers it was announced in February 2015 that the business was to be shut. Patrick Grant intervened, buying the business and stopping its closure.