How much thought do we really give to where our clothes are made? In my case, historically, it has not been enough. While in recent years, there has been a push to support local, knowing where your clothes are made is about so much more than just simple geography.
From reducing carbon emissions to ensuring quality working conditions and fair wages, supporting brands that manufacture their product locally here in the UK has several positive flow-on effects. And whether it be a small studio in East London or a home base in another part of the county, there are several innovative, independent brands who have recognised the importance of this home-grown supply chain structure.
Made-to-order label Molby handcrafts all of its unique garments in Wirrall, while lingerie label Lara Intimates founded its own (all-female) factory in East London. Cool-girl brand Monika sustainability creates its dresses in North London, and jewellery brand Lily & Roo handcraft its pieces from a studio in Hatton Garden.
With the pandemic affecting each business differently, there has never been a better time to support local British manufacturing, so without further ado keep scrolling for six brands we love that make their products right here in the UK.
1. Monika the Label
Having worked as a buyer before starting her brand, Monika Young saw first-hand the negative impact the fashion industry was having on the planet. "Monika the Label was born out of a desire to make sustainable fashion for wild-hearted girls who wanted to find cool clothes whilst making eco-friendly choices," Young explained. "I didn’t want to be part of the problem any longer."
Manufactured in North London, Monika the Label fuses California cool and East London grunge to create printed pieces fashion girls are sure to love. "By manufacturing in the UK, I was able to establish a transparent supply chain and be directly involved with the entire production process," the designer said. "Manufacturing in London also allows us to have lower minimum order quantities, which means we don’t overproduce. We only create small batches so nothing goes to waste."
The brand also sources its fabric within the UK, and many of its garments are created in regenesis soft satin, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. "But sustainability is not just about eco-friendly fabrics and reducing our carbon footprint," Young concluded. "It's also about protecting the workers who make our clothes. Everyone involved with MTL is treated fairly and paid well."
2. Molby the Label
Karina Molby always dreamt of starting her own brand and created Molby the Label five years ago while working a full-time job. Throughout lockdown, the brand gained traction, allowing Molby to begin focusing on it full-time.
Designed and handmade in her Wirral-based studio, each Molby the Label item is made to order and can take up to four hours to make. "I wanted to create beautiful, fun, handmade pieces for women at affordable price points," Molby explained. "Other than high price points, I can not think of a reason why people would not want to shop sustainably and from the UK. There is very little fabric waste, assured high quality of handmade garments from experienced seamstresses, and you are supporting a small-business dream."
Photo:Courtesy of Lara Intimates
Lara Intimates was created to celebrate women, in every sense of the phrase. "We make underwear that fits and flatters 60 bra sizes, we provide job opportunities to makers in London, and we empower all women that believe in a sustainable and socially responsible fashion future," explained the brand's founder, Cindy Liberman.
"At Lara Intimates, we aim to be environmentally and socially responsible with everything we do," Liberman continued. "That's not always easy, but we make employee welfare our top priority. We decided the only way to guarantee transparency, ethics, and quality in manufacturing was to set up our own factory." Thanks to this plan, Lara Intimates now has control over every step of its manufacturing process, enabling the brand to also focus on waste reduction and sustainable sourcing.
4. Lily & Roo
Photo:Courtesy of Lily & Roo
Handcrafted in its London studio in Hatton Garden, Lily & Roo was created as a direct-to-consumer jewellery brand made with its customers in mind. "I decided to launch Lily & Roo, an online-only jewellery brand that focuses on demi-fine and fine jewellery, without the retailer's markup," said the brand's founder, Brittany Preston.
The brand is known for its pearl, pavé, and personalised pieces, which are all handmade using traditional craftsmanship techniques. "Manufacturing in Hatton Garden London gives us complete control over the quality of our pieces and over the materials used," explained Preston. "We always make sure they are from ethical and conflict-free sources."
5. Fruity Booty
Photo:Courtesy of Fruity Booty
Created using deadstock fabrics or repurposed materials, Fruity Booty underwear has had sustainability at its core since it launched three years ago. The brand's founders, Minna Bunting and Hattie Tennant, wanted to "redefine what is considered sexy by celebrating the individuality of women and bringing an unfiltered approach to underwear shopping."
In terms of manufacturing locally, Bunting explained, "Hattie and I were always passionate to manufacturer our products in the UK. Not only for the obvious environmental benefits, but local manufacturing allows you to make regular visits to the factory, have a relationship with the people working there, and ensure the conditions they have promised are put into practice."
Photo:Courtesy of Etikette the Label
Recently launched outwear label Etikette creates versatile jackets and coats with a focus on style and practicality. And of course, as you might have guessed, all of its garments are created right here on home soil. "We have vowed to manufacture all of our garments in the UK in order to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible," explained the brand's founder, Rhiannon Buckley. "We have chosen to work with small sample studios and independent seamstresses in London."
The brand, which is based in Central London's Somerset House, also produces its garments in small batches, meaning there is less waste and unnecessary surplus stock created. "We have a heavy focus on sustainability," Buckley said. "We don’t redesign—we update our collections in order to reduce waste."