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Scottish Textile News

  • 01-Jan-2019 3:36 PM | Kimberley White

    Textiles Scotland and the industry wish CEO David Breckenridge a happy retirement.

    David retires from the helm of Textiles Scotland after over 45 years in the textiles industry, working across the country in a variety of leadership roles.

    On behalf of the industry we would like to thank David for his service and wish him health and happiness for the future.

    David Breckenridge says:

    "After 45 years in the textile industry it is a great wrench to be leaving behind that intense involvement but I am very confident that the sector, despite the many challenges it faces, remains a strong and vibrant component of Scottish economic and cultural life. That confidence is based upon the sheer amount of talent and creativity to be found in all our businesses both large and small and when that is allied to the knowledge and experience gained over many generations it makes for such a compelling proposition.

    When I began working all those years ago for my local company, Glen Cree, based in the heart of Galloway, the world was a very different place and I have seen many changes throughout my subsequent working career at Peter MacArthur in Hamilton, as managing director at Alex Begg & Co in Ayr and then latterly as Chief Executive of Textiles Scotland. The industry has evolved over that time and although it may be much smaller than it was I believe that it will continue to prosper. Textiles Scotland will, I know, continue to support its members in every way possible and Jaki and Kym, with the formidable backing of the UK Fashion & Textile Association, will ensure that that the industry's unique place in Scottish life is not forgotten."

    Textiles Scotland Director, Jaki Love, commented:

    "The wealth of knowledge that David obtained through his many years working in the textile industry was invaluable. He shared this knowledge with me over the last 5 years and also provided a wealth of support for which I am incredibly grateful for. This knowledge also enabled Textiles Scotland to provide support to its 120+ members, be they were small micro businesses or the largest of Scottish manufacturers. David’s awareness that we needed to support those smaller businesses and to challenge and support them to grow so they themselves could be beneficial to the economic development of Scotland was key.

    Taking up the gauntlet from David and securing a strong future for our industry is now our immediate goal. Support of the textiles sector is something we continue to strongly lobby the government for. We have strong ambitions for the sector and our focus sits with the industry set strategic goals, namely: Investment, Innovation, Internationalisation, Skills & Leadership. Innovation in particular provides new and transformational opportunities for our sector, whether it be in heritage fashion and interior textiles, medical textiles, wearable tech or aeronautical/automotive textiles. Calls to government to support companies in these transformational opportunities are ongoing – watch this space!"

  • 18-Dec-2018 12:07 PM | Kimberley White

    With the new season of trade shows starting in the New Year, trends forecaster Fiona Chautard asks, are tradeshows still an important channel to grow your business?

    We now work in a multi-channel world and the role of tradeshows has changed accordingly.

    Ten years ago, all a new brand had to do was design a collection, get the samples made, show at a tradeshow, take the orders and handle the follow-up processes. There was a multitude of multi-brand independents and some of the larger stores who were happy to take a risk on and support new brands however with the fast-changing retail landscape - all this has now changed.

    Tradeshows can still be as important as they used to be for meeting new customers but there are many fewer multi-brands out there, who will support new brands, and with the exception of markets like Japan, most of the department stores will not take a risk on new brands – they are only interested in investing in risk-free recognisable brands to guarantee sales.

    Tradeshows however are still one of the best places to meet online retailers and market places. This is where they do their new research. The shows are now much less about order-writing and much more about meeting new and existing contacts and investing in a brand.

    With the new merger of Textiles Scotland with UK Fashion & Textiles Association (UKFT) launching in January 2019, we wanted to share the views of Paul Alger, International Director of UKFT, as shared in a recent blog post for onwardsandup.co.uk reviewing the relevance of trade shows for business growth.

    How can brands can make themselves stand out and succeed at a Tradeshow?

    1. Investment is key! The days when you could rock up at a tradeshow with a sample collection and a smile have gone. This industry now requires deep pockets, great product and a keen understanding of running a business and brand building.

    2. Knowing who your customer is comes first. There are no off the shelf lists for this, so it is down to companies to research their buyers and build up their own database. Once they have this, buyers hate being emailed by people they do not know. They also hate being added to a designers’ newsletter without their permission. Buyers usually hate being contacted with offers of products through LinkedIn, even if they have accepted your connection request!

    3. Buyers will usually be happy to receive relevant offers through the post as long as they are relevant to their business needs – there is no point in sending a womenswear buyer your men’s lookbook as this will merely confirm to them that you haven’t done your research properly and if you cannot manage even to do that, why would they want to invest their time and energy in you?

    4. Some stores will allow you to ask for details on buyers, especially outside the UK where buyers pride themselves on doing their research very thoroughly indeed. Always remember the assistant buyers, they are on the lookout for new things and ways to make their mark!

    5. Timing is key, there is no point mailing an invitation to a fashion show or a tradeshow when the buyer or assistant is already travelling. Plan ahead and get the right communication out to the right people at the right time. Don’t pester them… Once a season or maybe twice a season at the right time is better than a constant barrage – that just makes you seem desperate.

    6. A special word about selling to the US… Remember when I said don’t pester buyers? Ignore it, US buyers EXPECT you to hustle but it is probably only going to work if you can get them on the phone! Get used to using the phone – don’t assume they read their emails!

    7. Finally, on the stand, make sure that your stand, like your website and shop, tells buyers what you stand for! What is your elevator pitch? They need to get that message within 10/20 seconds max. Have eye catching elements at the back of the stand to train the eye to the back. Give buyers space to look at the collection without being jumped on – sometimes it is better to stand just off the stand rather than always being on it. If the show is quiet or if you are bored, NEVER have your head in a book or newspaper! The buyer will rightly assume you are not really interested.

    What are your top tips to get the most out of Tradeshows?

    1. Research – who are your buyers, where do they go? What are their challenges? How do they buy? How do they use tradeshows? Which ones and why?

    2. Research – Visit the main tradeshows and their competitors, speak to exhibitors to find out how it works.

    3. Research – How does the market work? Do buyers work to appointments or prefer to work through an agent (as they do in Scandinavia, Germany and some of the US shows) or do they prefer to buy direct as they increasingly do in Japan? Do they like to visit regional shows in their own country or do they prefer to travel?

    4. Planning: Plan ahead and apply in good time. Most of the better shows have a vetting panel and a waiting list and the better ones will never offer you a discount or special deal – asking for one merely makes you seem desperate. Some shows (Pitti Uomo, Copenhagen) will offer you a free deal if they really want you for a season or two, especially if you have a good product or social media story.

    5. Delivery: Deliver a great stand with a friendly and welcoming layout. Be professional with your follow-up and order confirmations. Remember, not all buyers will agree to pay deposits (USA for example) and that you will probably have to quote in landed US dollars for the US and, as we approach Brexit, need to offer Euro prices and have at least thought about how buyers will be able to trade with you post-Brexit. This will be especially important in the Spring/Summer shows where buyers will be considering buying products scheduled for delivery shortly before March 2019 to reassure buyers.

    6. UKFT: My sixth tip is always speak to UKFT before you book for a tradeshow. Whether you are a member of UKFT or not, through our work with Department for International Trade and separately, we visit most of the key shows, know how they work, how to apply and the pitfalls to avoid. We are always happy to talk to anyone to make sure they make the right tradeshow decisions!


    UKFT is responsible for bringing together designers, manufacturers, agents and retailers to promote their businesses and the industry throughout the UK and internationally. To find out more about tradeshows and the great events that UKFT provide please contact:

    Paul Alger, Director of International Business at UKFT

    T: +44 (0)20 7843 9463

    Additional Resources

    Tradeshow Funding Support – Find out what international tradeshows have funding support from the Department of International Trade 2018-2019

    Fashion tradeshows around the world – Find out the dates of the tradeshow and fashions worldwide

    About the author, Fiona Chautard.

    See previous blog post

  • 18-Dec-2018 11:56 AM | Kimberley White

    Funding is now available for businesses to train their young textile technicians across the UK, as part of UKFT’s mission to raise the skills and productivity of the people who work in the fashion and textile industry to the highest level.

    UKFT has secured support from The Worshipful Company of Weavers and The Worshipful Company of Drapers to match-fund 50% of the costs of in-depth training for young textile technicians, predominantly in weaving positions.

    As companies invest in new textile technology, the requirement for highly-skilled textile technicians has never been more important but this type of in-depth training is not currently available in the UK.

    Training is carried out by machinery builders at overseas training schools and due to its specialised nature, is extremely expensive.

    The new scheme builds on the success of other match-funded technician training programmes and opens the initiative to companies across the UK.

    It is open to textile technicians under the age of 30 and businesses can apply to UKFT from the start of 2019.

    Martin Jenkins, Project Manager at UKFT, said:

    This type of training is a critical way of ensuring that the UK textile sector remains competitive against global competition. It is great news that employers across the UK can now access funding to train textile technicians to allow the industry to capitalise on all the opportunities that exist for further growth.

    The fund opens for applications on 1st January 2019. Companies interested in accessing funding should contact: martin.jenkins@ukft.org

    Original article here

  • 14-Dec-2018 11:54 AM | Kimberley White

    Textiles Scotland have opened applications to pitch at Textile Innovation Network 2019.

    The Textile Innovation Network 2019 will be held at The Principal Hotel, George Street, Edinburgh on the 14th March 2019.

    Pitches are invited from Scottish SMEs carrying out activity in the UK, with an innovation opportunity they would like to put to a room full of funders, experts, and peers.

    Pitch application form can be found here.

    More details on the event can be found here.

    This event is kindly sponsored by DASA.

  • 10-Dec-2018 10:24 AM | Kimberley White

    Textiles Scotland (STLA) is pleased to announce that the management of the company will be taken over by UKFT, effective 1 January 2019, following a unanimous vote by STLA members and lengthy discussions between the two organisations.

    Textiles Scotland and UKFT have strong historical links and the move provides new opportunities for Scottish companies by being part of a wider network while retaining a national, Scottish focus.

    The Textiles Scotland branding will be continued, as will the Scottish focus of the activities, support and government lobbying.

    From 1 January 2019, existing Textiles Scotland members will be transferred to a new company called UKFT Scotland.

    UKFT Scotland (Textiles Scotland) will join the main UKFT board and UKFT CEO Adam Mansell will join the Scottish Industry Leadership Group.

    UKFT will be working with the industry to develop a new membership offer that will help Textiles Scotland become a self-sustaining organisation, including using its expertise to develop an export strategy and a skills strategy for Scottish members.

    James Lang, Chairman of Textiles Scotland, said:

    “UKFT’s commitment to working with the industry to deliver our current plan of activity, while plugging into a wider textiles, fashion and leather network makes it a perfect partner for Textiles Scotland. This new partnership allows us to focus on high-value growth opportunities in international markets and adopt an industry-wide approach, which is genuinely committed to innovation and best practice to ensure future success.

    Nigel Lugg, Chairman of UKFT, said:

    We are delighted to welcome Textiles Scotland into the wider UKFT community and look forward to expanding our support services to address the needs of our new Scottish members, focused on leadership, innovation, internationalisation, skills and investment. This transaction will ensure that Scottish companies have a national and international voice and significantly furthers our aim of creating a highly profitable and productive UK fashion and textiles industry.”

    UKFT’s members include some of the UK’s most well-known fashion and textile brands, heritage success stories and emerging designer labels, alongside the manufacturers and suppliers that turn those designs into a reality.

    Like the businesses it represents, UKFT has transformed in recent years to meet the demands of today’s vibrant, dynamic industry and the most important task for UKFT and UKFT Scotland is to ensure that the right environment is created for the fashion and textile sector to thrive for many years to come.

    Furthermore, after five years as the Scottish Textiles Industry Leadership Group Chairman, James Lang will be stepping down from his post. A successor will be confirmed in the new year.

    Textiles Scotland would like to thank all members for their continuous support over the years, and look forward to providing them with extended resources under the banner of UKFT Scotland.

    For further information, please contact:

    Jaki Love: jaki@textilescotland.com

  • 01-Dec-2018 1:21 PM | Kimberley White

    Johnston's of Elgin are delighted to announce that they will open a new flagship store in Scotland’s capital in Spring 2019.

    Located on Multrees Walk, Edinburgh’s luxury shopping quarter, the new space will be over two floors and will house womenswear, menswear and homeware collections. Set over 2,000 square feet, the store will open showcasing the Spring Summer 2019 collection.

    Suitably positioned among other luxury brands such as Burberry, Mulberry and Louis Vuitton, it will join a family of Johnstons of Elgin retail spaces including Elgin, St. Andrews and England’s flagship on New Bond Street in London.

    "Looking ahead to 2019 with strong growth behind us, this Edinburgh flagship store is another stepping stone in cementing the Johnstons of Elgin legacy through retail. Our new retail experience in Multrees Walk will offer a unique customer experience which draws inspiration from our manufacturing roots. It will target the domestic Edinburgh market whilst welcoming international visitors to Scotland’s capital."

    -- George McNeil, Managing Director, Retail Division

    Read original article here

  • 22-Nov-2018 4:54 PM | Kimberley White

    In the run up to Christmas, UK consumers are expected to spend over £2,000 each, according to research by Adobe. Trends forecaster Fiona Chautard reports on how Black Friday mania is affecting our small and well-loved independent retailers.

    Many will be hoping to make the most of any deals on offer. Black Friday - this Friday, 23 November - originated in the US, as a way of kicking off Christmas spending after Thanksgiving with the lure of great bargains.

    In recent years Black Friday has gradually built up momentum in the UK with increasing numbers of retailers launching sales in the days leading up to Black Friday – extending the peak period further still. Shops don't typically announce their promotions until fairly close to the big day, but emails offering discounts have been hitting inboxes for days.

    There is certainly a lot of hype around Black Friday discounting and year-long research by consumer platform Which has shown that a Black Friday discount may look like a good deal, but that you could get a better bargain if you’re willing to wait. They tracked product prices for 12 months and found that 87% were the same price or cheaper than their Black Friday price at other times of year. Some 46% of products were cheaper than their Black Friday price on at least one day during the six months afterwards.

    A few brands and retailers, including some of the biggest chains in the UK, are opting not to join the frenzy.

    We asked some independent design-led textile businesses based in Scotland, who are trading online and through independent retailers, for their opinion on how large-scale discounting affects the growth of their business.

    “Many small businesses are just that, small, and so we don't have the ability to do what big brands can as our profit margins are not built for this. Our prices are an honest figure that represents what it costs to make the work.” Laura Spring, textile designer and owner of Laura Spring explains.

    Laura Spring at work in her Glasgow studio

    “We occasionally have a sale when some things are just no longer part of our range, but we only do this after six months or a year. We carry products and designs for a long time and we don't believe in slashing our prices right before Christmas - punishing our valued and loyal customers who shop with us right up until our last posting dates. Like so many small businesses, we rely on this time of year to make up a large part of our income so to give a weekend of big discounts just doesn't work for us.”

    Catherine Aitken, director of Catherine Aitken, an Edinburgh-based accessories brand, suggests that large companies who take part in Black Friday can offer huge discounts because of the higher profit margins that they have built into their pricing structure. Her brand is focused on creating a collection where the materials are carefully sourced to be sustainable and locally produced which, she says, results in the cost of her products being higher than a company who mass produces overseas where less consideration is paid to the production environment and its human cost.

    “If we were to offer the same discounts as larger brands then we would be literally losing money and wouldn’t be able to pay into the local economy as we do, paying taxes as we do when, as we know, many larger companies pay little or no tax in the UK at all!”

    Catherine Aitken messenger bag

    The woven textile designer Heather Shields believes that “Caving to pressure to offer discounts on Black Friday seems like a bit of a race to the bottom to me. Most independent makers are already offering their pieces for the best possible price they can afford as they generally have higher labour and materials costs. With so many high street shops struggling too, it doesn't really seem as if the Black Friday approach is working for them either and, sooner or later, I think we will need to address how unsustainable our current consumer culture is - environmentally, ethically and economically.”

    “I like to offer discounts or have competitions every so often but at a time that works for me and when I have the stock to support it - such as the upcoming Grey Wolf Studio Christmas Sale where I will be offering 30-50% discount on all pieces. I think many of my customers understand and appreciate this approach and don’t necessarily expect smaller businesses to conform to Black Friday.”

    Heather Shields and her wonderful woven cushions

    Initiatives such as the nationwide JUST A CARD campaign aims to encourage people to buy from designer/makers, independent galleries and shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses.

    The campaign came about when Artist & Designer Sarah Hamilton saw the quote "If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought 'just a card' we'd still be open" by store keepers who'd recently closed their gallery.

    Inspired by the story, Hamilton launched Just A Card to encourage people to buy from independent galleries and shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, are vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses.

    The scheme is gathering momentum, with nearly 50,000 followers on social media and stickers, featuring its distinctive bird logo, in an estimated 10,000 shop windows. From Monday, it is running an “indie week” to counter the might of Black Friday.

    “We’re doing something about what we see as a really big problem,” says Hamilton, adding that the volunteer-run campaign came about as she noticed fellow artists and the stores where they sold their work were struggling. “The Just A Card sticker in a window is a call to arms. We want to remind everyone that shopping small is a must this Christmas.”

    Recent figures chart the stark decline of Britain’s high streets with the number of vacant shops, pubs and restaurants increasing by more than 4,400 in the first six months of 2008. As fewer Britons visit the high street shops, galleries and pubs are suffering in a climate of rising costs and falling sales.

    Catherine Aitken suggests that buying even just one Christmas gift from an independent maker, designer or small business can make such a huge impact not only to the individual themselves but to the local economy and creative community at large.

    “It’s the best return on your money you can get and it will be a gift that’s original and created with passion and consideration.”

    Heather Shields believes that choosing to purchase a gift from an independent store / designer provides a more unique offer as well as being much more ethically made.

    “I think buying independent also offers a lot more variety than what is available on the high street where every shop sells a slightly different version of the same thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend and exhibit at some really fun Christmas pop-up shops and events over the past few years with mulled wine, raffles and home baking - in general I think it’s a much more pleasant and personal shopping experience and it definitely leaves you feeling festive!”

    Buy local this Christmas at lauraspring.co.uk

    This Christmas, there is more choice than ever before to find locally designed and made product on our high street though the many pop-up shops and markets which are active during November and December.

    Here are just a few of the retailers, pop-ups and scheduled Christmas markets open in November and December featuring the work of independent designers and designer makers in Scotland:

    Christmas Pop-ups and Designer markets:

    So this year, please think about your local independent retailers before you decide to partake in the spending mania of Black Friday.

    About the author, Fiona Chautard.

    View previous blog post

  • 15-Nov-2018 3:38 PM | Kimberley White

    Explore opportunities for your business on a five-day multi-sector market visit with Scottish Enterprise to Milan and Turin. Registration is now open for support to join the Scottish delegation.

    Why Italy?

    Italy has one of the largest economies in the European Union (EU). The population of Italy is about 60 million, making it one of the biggest consumer markets in the EU.

    The benefits for UK businesses exporting to Italy include:

    European Union (EU) market, so no tariffs

    Similar regulatory framework to UK and modern intellectual property protection practices

    Appreciation for British professional services and technologies and quality consumer goods

    Easy access from the UK with low-cost flights from several regional airports

    Only one hour ahead of UK time

    The strengths of the Italian market include:

    Modern infrastructure

    High level of internationalisation and entrepreneurship, with fully integrated supply chains

    Strong manufacturing and innovation capability in several areas

    Gateway to Mediterranean and Middle East markets, where the lifting of Iranian sanctions could increase exports by 3 billion Euros over the next 4 years

    Hosts many trade exhibitions with global appeal

    One of the world’s highest rates of household wealth

    One of the world’s top 5 tourist destinations

    Market visit support

    Scottish Enterprise will support companies attending before, during and after the market visit with the following:

    Connect with experts and professionals on the ground, such as Scottish Development International (SDI) market specialists, business associations, Department for International Trade (DIT), local businesses, accountants, solicitors

    Provide market research to support delegates to set up one to one meetings with potential agents, distributors, clients, buyers, partners while in market

    Export training prior to the visit to make sure all delegates are market ready and understand the culture, finance, route to market options

    Financial funding for 50% flights and accommodation (up to £200) for eligible companies

    Companies are responsible for booking own flights and accommodation. However, we'll suggest flights and hotels for you so the delegation can travel as a group and stay in the same location.

    Sector opportunities

    The market visit will be multi sector. However, the following key sectors have been identified by SDI field team as offering good opportunities for our companies:


    Textiles (fashion and interiors)

    Food and drink (craft beer, craft whisky and gin, traditional Scottish seafood and salmon, traditional Scottish diary products, organic and natural products, free-from products)


    Technology and advanced engineering (space, automation, robotics, advanced engineering and digital manufacturing, machinery, and their supply chains)

    There is also an opportunity for textiles companies to visit Milanounica, Milan (5-7 February 2019), the 28th edition of the international trade show for the world of textiles, for high-quality apparel and accessories both for men and women.

    Register your interest

    Contact Nicola.Reynolds@scotent.co.uk for more information or to request an application form.

    Deadline for applications is Monday 17 December 2018.

  • 30-Oct-2018 3:02 PM | Kimberley White

    Textiles Scotland want to let you know about a children’s charity that can give a little extra financial support to the families of employees in your company.

    The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust is a charity that can give financial support to the families of employees in your textile or manufacturing company. This is a free service to your company and a great way of supporting the families of your employees – whether you’re self employed or work in a larger company, they’re here to help you.

    Here’s more details: The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust gives grants to help pay for essential items, when the basic needs of a child cannot be met. This could be school uniform, clothing, bedding or white goods for the family home (when these are broken or in disrepair). The charity can also give grants for children with additional needs such as mobility equipment, sensory toys, therapies and more. The grants are not a loan and they do not have to be repaid.

    The friendly team are already helping lots of families right across the UK fashion and textile industry. If you would like your company employees to benefit from the grants, please call Anna, Director of FTCT for more information or visit www.ftct.org.uk or call 0300 123 9002 and ask to speak to Anna.

    In the words of a mum recently been supported by the charity: “To any other parent thinking of applying for an FTCT grant, I would say, just fill in those forms. The forms aren’t complicated. Our grant was my little safety net in my hour of need.”

    Click here for information on grants

    Read case studies here

  • 29-Oct-2018 1:08 PM | Kimberley White

    The Incorporation of Weavers holds its annual dinner in the Trades House of Glasgow on Friday the 8th February 2019.

    The evening will be relevant to, and celebrate, the Scottish textile industry.

    Speakers will be closely connected to the industry and there will be extended networking opportunities during the evening.

    All industry and student award winners will be presented by the platform.

    There will be a 15 minute fashion show during the evening and mannequin displays can be made available. We hope to show some of the best of Scottish industry as well as examples of emerging talent. Please consider submitting a few pieces for this show. Please contact the Deacon at the address below to arrange.

    The evening has to be a valuable experience for the industry and guests, and to this end we would be happy to receive further comments or suggestions to help achieve this target.

    Please contact Alex McCluskey on alexmccluskey@hotmail.com or on 07956427526.

Copyright UK Fashion & Textile Scotland Limited © 2019. Registered office: c/o Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, 12-13 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH2 2AF. Registration Number: SC616858