In Lanarkshire Elizabeth Martin crafts elegantly modern womenswear from Hebridean Harris tweed and Ayrshire lace.
Last week, Textiles Scotland member Elizabeth gathered with hundreds more at Meet the Manufacturer, now the key sourcing event for information on British producers and brands.
The creation of former Burberry and M&S designer and buyer Kate Hills, Meet The Manufacturer was established in 2014 after realising how mass outsourcing overseas would lead to a permanent skills loss at home.
This year’s MTM features 200 exhibitors with special showcases for British wool, creative brands and brainstorming sessions on the critical issue of how to develop future generations of manufacturers.
“Use it or lose it” is Hills’ essential message.
“Making in the UK is cost-effective and sustainable,” she explains. “By buying authentic British goods you are keeping the skills alive. Everything was becoming so fragmented, it could so easily have all disappeared. But now makers, designers and buyers have a central point bringing them together. This event has grown four-fold and we plan to hold more smaller ones and roll them out nationwide.”
Elizabeth Martin, a descendant of single parent seamstresses who had to make do and mend so “always valued fabric”, switched from soft furnishings to fashion two years ago.
“My vision was to build a British brand and I’ve used my £70,000 savings to do it,” she says of her business Elizabeth Martin Tweed.
Sourcing, designing and making in Scotland both in her home studio and with a local factory, Martin draws on heritage textiles such as the hand-woven, fabulously rainbow-coloured Harris tweed.
Prices for her 25-piece, day-to-night, versatile range are mid-market and “for women who want individuality, sensuality and comfort. Our fabrics have provenance they appreciate that,” says Martin who acknowledges both the guidance she first had from retailer Liberty and the government support she has received to attend Far East trade missions and develop her website.
Overseas orders from north America and Europe are increasing with her Fiona swing coat (£379) and Florrie lace top with a pastel tweed trim (£125) emerging the bestsellers.
Turnover is now heading for £21,000 and she employs two with another five indirectly.
“MTM is the chance to connect with buyers and where I will start on my next goal, finding wholesalers for joint venture partnerships,” she adds.
The recession was definitely a catalyst for Martin, but others have been the referendum and Brexit. “So now’s the moment,” she says, “for British makers to shout from the rooftops.”
Please see original article via The Express here.