Scottish Textile News
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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 email@example.com or on 07956427526.
Following a recent visit to Premiere Vision in Paris, textiles and trends specialist Fiona Chautard reports on how fashion is changing and how colour can be used within a collection to inspire change.
Following a recent visit to Premiere Vision in September to see the launch of the new colour palette for Autumn Winter 2019/20, I was struck by how transient the colours looked compared to previous years with a blend of colours which would suit any season from Autumn to Summer. The palette which is produced by a jury of international colour experts, demonstrated the new season-neutral approach to dressing. Trends are now more about a quiet evolution gently morphing from one delivery into the next, rather than any radical style revolution.
Could this ‘new’ season-less approach be a reflection of the current debate (and UK government enquiry) concerning the effects of Fast Fashion on the environment? The never-ending conveyor belt of Womenswear and Menswear runway shows, and the growth of 24/7 influencer street-style websites have surprisingly, resulted in a fashion ‘slow-down’.
It now appears to be less about changing direction season after season, and more about knowing your customer and channelling feedback from your customer to evolve your current best-sellers, while still including emerging, slow-burn looks into the mix.
The mood of the moment can be seen in the latest colour directions from Premiere Vision in Paris, which offered an optimistic mood full of energised brights and new colour combinations.
The palettes of the season deliver a new self-assured level of colour designed to empower the wearer. In a world of so much bland and unchallenging fashion, the use of colour and unusual colour mixing is an essential element to a new style of dressing.
(AW 19/20 Pantone referenced palette by WGSN: Further trend information and access to WGSN is available via Textiles Scotland Membership)
Following on from Spring / Summer, the purple palette remains on the fashion radar and is key for the season including tones at both the blue and red end of the scale. It was a constant trend on the latest round of runways with designers promoting Pantone’s Colour of the Year – Ultra Violet across a wide spectrum of product.
Picking up on the renewed interest in neutrals and mid-tones, brown becomes a fashion colour for A/W 19/20. Classic tan browns take on a warmer intense look for next winter with the emphasis on rich cognac tones. A real Autumnal level of colour with a rich, red-cast palette inspired by the force of nature. Think warm chestnut or leafy russet shades with an intense luxe appeal.
Continued interest in full-bodied wine tones is an ongoing, evolving trend with proven success over the last few seasons, including a rich medley of wine and Bordeaux reds.
Greens balance the season’s ongoing mood for rich wine tones with the opposing look offering shades from deep and dense forest greens, including leaf and mossy tones, with acid lime adding shock value. Forest calm and respite in a chaotic world.
The blues remain the ‘Go-to’ colours of the season including navy, turquoise and washed out denim hues.
New uplifting yellows have the true feel-good factor. They are warm, intense, energising and full of commercial appeal. Tones of saffron, egg-yolk and marigold work well as stand-alone main shades and also look directional when teamed with the classic warm caramel brown tones of the season.
In the Pink:
A fashion highlight which is gaining traction as the march towards the season progresses. High voltage shocking pink has become a key component in an amplified brights palette for both womens and menswear. Inspired by 1980’s power dressing, these hot saturated pinks, from bubblegum to Neon, add impact to a palette by clashing these shocking pinks with bright poppy red in bold colour blocks.
Metallics continue to shine this season with silver and pale gold the metals of choice.
Visiting Premiere Vision in September, I was aware of just how diverse and international the textile production and customer base is, with the need across the globe for colour to lift and inspire. With any new collection, colour has the power to offer both excitement and comfort in our increasingly chaotic world.
The essence of the new season’s colours is less about hiding behind the quiet anonymity of black or characterless neutrals, it’s about expressing yourself assertively, and the choice of colours certainly reflect this mood of transformation and diversity.
View previous blog post.
There are limited ticket still available for our next Trends Masterclass on the 1st November 2018. Click here for details.
Apply to exhibit and sell your work at the Handmade Designer Maker section of NY NOW, an international trade fair in February 2019.
NY NOW is a four-day wholesale / trade event held twice annually in New York. In February 2019, Craft Scotland will be participating in the show, taking a group of UK-based makers to New York to exhibit and sell their work to international trade buyers.
Craft Scotland is now an accredited Trade Challenge Partner (TCP) of the Department for International Trade and through this partnership, will lead the group of makers to NY NOW within the Handmade Designer Maker section of the show. This part of the show showcases around 350 exhibitors. NY NOW has been established for 30+ years, and is the leading market for contemporary design across home, lifestyle, handmade and gift products. It will be open from Sunday 3 to Wednesday 6 February 2019, taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.
Craft Scotland will take twelve makers to the show and has secured twelve Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) grants of £2,000 for each successful maker (providing they meet the eligibility criteria). Each maker will have their own space at the show which will be part of a larger Craft Scotland presence.
Applications are invited from makers working across all craft disciplines: ceramics, wood, jewellery, glass, textiles, furniture, lighting, leather, basketry, bookbinding, millinery, mosaics and more.
This opportunity is suitable for both established and emerging makers who produce affordable, high-quality craft and are wholesale ready. Craft Scotland welcome applications from talented makers at all stages of their career. This is a great opportunity for makers wishing to wholesale their work to an international audience.
Follow the link for more information and to apply via the online application form.
Please submit your TAP Grant application form via email to Jo Scott, Project Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: 5pm, Monday 29 October 2019
Crùbag are pleased to be among 11 finalists from around the world who were chosen to pitch in Geneva at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the Open to Export International Business Awards.
The Scottish textile design start-up is the only company representing the UK in Geneva this week. Crùbag create designs and sustainable luxury accessories based on unseen aspects of our oceans which they print on textiles, such as scarves, pocket squares, bow-ties, cushions and napkins.
The ocean-inspired inspirational luxury products are sustainably made using natural fabrics like silk and cashmere. Collections are developed in collaboration with marine scientists, showing aspects of their work and products are accompanied by science outreach information. They are based on algae and pathogens interactions, phytoplankton seen under the microscope, hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the deep sea and the Arctic amongst others.
The “Open to Export” International Business Awards will be presented on 4th October 2018, where 11 inspiring SMEs will travel to Geneva to pitch their businesses at a showcase final event for the chance to win $5000 towards their export strategies.
The competition invited companies from anywhere in the world to enter their completed ‘Export Action Plans’. The ‘Export Action Plan’ tool allows SMEs to take ownership of their export strategies in a systematic way, encouraging them to take decisions along each step of their international trade journey – from selecting a market to delivering products or services to new customers.
The final is taking place at the World Trade Organisation’s Public Forum – a gathering of thousands of senior figures from international business, governments and media. The Awards have been run as part of the ‘WTO-ICC Small Business Champions’ initiative, showing that The Institute of Export & International Trade – our backers – are leading the way in encouraging SMEs to enter world trade.
The finalists are a varied collection, coming from multiple sectors and hailing from all corners, including St Kitts, Zambia, Mongolia, Armenia and Peru.
For more information about the award please visit:
For more info about Crùbag please visit:
“If a T-shirt threatens to be cheaper than a croissant, it’s time to act.”
- Lidewij Edelkoort
Lidewij Edelkoort is one of the world’s most famous trends forecasters and has been calling for human and environmentally friendly fashion production for some time.
Edelkoort believes that the drive for ever-leaner supply chains in manufacturing has led to a "rapid and sordid restructuring process, which has seen production leave the western world to profit from and exploit low-wage countries."
At recent yarn fairs, (Pitti Filati, Filo and Premiere Vision yarns) sustainability was the most talked of subjects; with spinners reporting customers are increasingly asking for more sustainable and responsible yarns.
The launch of the Circular Fibres Initiative at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2017, aims to encourage the collaboration needed from fashion-industry heavyweights such as Inditex to reform the textile supply chain, so everything is reused in a continuous cycle.
The initiative brings together stakeholders from across the industry including brands, cities, philanthropists, NGOs, and innovators to collaborate and create a new textiles economy, aligned with the principles of the circular economy.
In October this year, a new sustainable fashion experience called Fashion for Good will open in Amsterdam. This will be an interactive technology driven museum focusing on sustainable and circular fashion innovation. The museum aims to change the hearts and minds of visitors by helping them discover the stories behind their clothes, learn how they can take action and explore how they can have an impact on both an industry and at international level.
Fashion for Good believes that changing the fashion industry is only possible when both the the industry and consumers change. The museum aims to showcase both sides of the story, looking at innovations within the industry on both a supply chain and a product level. It aims to provide visitors with a new outlook on fashion, empowering them with information on tangible actions that they can take to help affect change.
Raising awareness both at industry and consumer level, the creation of the museum highlights the increasing importance of sustainability within a globalised fashion industry which has been supported by international corporate partners including Adidas, C&A and PVH Corp.
Here in the UK, a new inquiry has been launched by the House of Commons environmental audit committee, which will explore the carbon impact, resource use and water footprint of clothing throughout its lifecycle and supply chain.
MPs are to investigate the environmental impact of throwaway “fast fashion” in the UK amid growing concerns that the multi-billion pound industry is wasting valuable resources and contributing to climate change.
A woman photographs French artist Christian Boltanski’s ‘No Man’s Land’, made up of around 30 tonnes of discarded clothing. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Inviting evidence on how the influential sector should remodel itself to be both “thriving and sustainable”, it will look at how improved recycling rates of clothing could slash waste and pollution.
“Fashion shouldn’t cost the Earth” said Mary Creagh MP, chair of the committee. “But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact. Producing clothes requires climate-changing emissions. Every time we put on a wash, thousands of plastic fibres wash down the drain into the oceans. We don’t know where or how to recycle end-of-life clothing.”
The raw materials used to manufacture clothes require land and water, or extraction of fossil fuels, while carbon dioxide is emitted throughout the clothing supply chain and some chemical dyes, finishes and coatings may be toxic. Research has found that plastic microfibres in clothing are released when they are washed, and enter rivers, the ocean and even the food chain.
Recent negative publicity revealing how luxury brand, Burberry, burnt £28.6m ($37.2m in U.S. dollars) worth of bags, clothes and perfume to protect its brand has illustrated what most consumers and even fashion professionals don’t realise is that this is a common practise in the fashion industry and not just consigned to Burberry. Every year the fashion industry burns billions of dollars worth of unsold clothes, footwear, and accessories in order to protect their brand.
Last year the fashion designer Stella McCartney condemned her own industry as “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment.”
A Stella McCartney campaign shot in a Scottish landfill site to raise awareness of waste and over-consumption. Photograph: Harley Weir and Urs Fischer for Stella McCartney
Key to the government inquiry will be how consumers could be encouraged to buy fewer clothes, reuse clothes and think about how best to dispose of clothes when they are no longer wanted. An estimated 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste goes straight into landfill each year, despite growing efforts to encourage consumers to recycle their worn and unwanted clothing.
There is no doubt that there is a growing challenge to find ways of balancing consumerism with environmental concerns which will require creative solutions both in materials and construction in the future.
Words by Fiona Chautard
About the author: Fiona is a qualified business coach, experienced mentor and advisor to the creative industries with a specialism in fashion, textiles and design.
Fashion Foundry have this week announced a brand new award for the Scottish fashion industry.
Attending an international trade show or showroom at one of the major events in the international fashion calendar is still considered one of the best ways to gain exposure for your brand and connect with international buyers.
The first Fashion Foundry Award supports fashion businesses attending an international trade show by providing funding and industry expertise before, during and after the show.
- £2000 Grant to attend an International Trade Show between January 2019 and March 2019. The grant will be paid following acceptance and attendance at a supported show or showroom.
- Travel grant of £150 to visit UKFT in London for a pre-show application meeting.
- Brand Consultancy session with Kevin Harding, Brand Consultant.
- Focused business development session with the team at Johnstons of Elgin or Alex Begg to review your international strategy and show preparation.
- Pre and post show support from Fashion Foundry Director & Producer and Industry Experts.
- You are a Sole Trader, Partnership or Company registered in Scotland.
- You have a minimum of three stockists, UK or International.
-Turnover of £25K +
- Significant online sales and press interest.
- You must have been accepted or intend to apply for a UKFT- supported trade show.
- You must be eligible for a TAP grant.
- You must be able to attend a pre-show support meeting with our brand consultants to review your international strategy and help you prepare between September 2018 and January 2019.
- Agree to submit a show report, to be completed 1 month after the show, that will be shared on the Fashion Foundry website.
- Agree to press and promotion of the award.
Deadline for applications Fridays 5th October 2018.
Telephone Interviews will be on Wednesday 10th or Thursday 11th October 2018
As the industry body passionately supporting the design and manufacture of textiles in Scotland, we pride ourselves on our vast network of contacts.
We are on the hunt to help out a couple of organisations in need of materials and machines; Rosemount Lifelong Learning Centre, and the Salisbury Centre.
Rosemount Lifelong Learning Centre
Rosemount Lifelong Learning Centre is a community based charity in Royston, Glasgow with the mission to increase life chances through learning for children, young people and adults living in Royston and wider North Glasgow. Rosemount operate various services in the community including children and family services, addictions, activities, volunteering opportunities, community learning and education. They are interested in starting up their own community sewing group at the centre.
Can you donate?
Please contact: Christine Towers.
The Salisbury Centre are a Mind, Body and Spirit Centre promoting meditation, well being, and therapies. They are looking to offer daytime sewing and cushion making courses.
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