Community Clothing: Bringing quality fashion back to the UK and building community

If you live in the UK and want to find clothes made from natural fibres and that are manufactured on home turf, it is by no means an easy task. Fortunately, Community Clothing is addressing that issue and is bringing quality fashion back to the UK quite literally.

Founded by British Fashion Designer Patrick Grant, Community Clothing is a social enterprise with a simple mission – to make excellent quality affordable clothes for men and women, to create great jobs for skilled workers and by doing this help to restore real pride in Britain’s textile communities.
UK manufacturing has been struggling due to the outsourcing of industry to cheaper labour markets, as well as the seasonal nature of the fashion calendar.
 
Patrick Grant, who owns the men’s clothing brand E. Tautz and Savile Row tailor Norton & Sons, believes that seasonality of demand across the fashion industry has had an adverse effect on British manufacturing, and Community Clothing can help preserve jobs and keep factories running year-round.

Therefore, the company uses factory downtime to produce its own line of low-waste, high quality British-made clothing, which is sold directly to the consumer, cutting out the usual wholesale and retail mark-ups.

Through this process, factories are kept running throughout the year, and hours of skilled work created.

Community Clothing’s simple and stylish range of seasonless basics include double breasted trench coats, a denim workwear inspired jacket, crewneck and V-neck jumpers, chambray shirts and a denim smock dress for women. And for men, Community Clothing’s collection includes field jackets, raincoats, harrington jackets, sweatshirts, a breton top, and t-shirts in classic colours.

The womenswear and menswear range is small but Community Clothing sell all the classics that one would require to create a capsule wardrobe that can be worn all year round. What’s more, these classic pieces are made with great-quality, “homegrown” natural fabrics.

Community Clothing’s collections are affordable and provide an outlet for people who want to buy clothes with sustainability in mind – made locally, made to last, made with respect for the environment, and made with an awareness of what it takes to sustain a community and its heritage.

Patrick Grant says: “We want to sustain and create a lot of skilled jobs in the textile and garment making industry. We think we can create 5,000 in the UK We’d like it to be big because the bigger it gets, the more jobs it creates. The more efficient the factories become, the lower the prices, the better for everyone. We think the UK market for the product we make is huge, tens of billions, and most of the incumbents are failing to deliver.”

The Cookson and Clegg clothing factory in Blackburn was saved from closure by the British fashion designer, Patrick Grant, in 2015 when he acquired the factory. The following year he founded Community Clothing with a mission to revitalise UK garment manufacturing.

Since launching the brand in 2016, Community Clothing has generated nearly 8,000 hours of skilled labour in seven manufacturers across England and Scotland as well as six textile suppliers. It is a business model that puts the supply chain first.

Patrick Grant has not reinvented the wheel as such, but what he has done has revived an indigenous industry that was once at its prime, before the onslaught of manmade fibres, and mass-produced, cheap clothing came to the forefront in the 1970s onwards.

Always putting the community at their heart of its collections, Community Clothing’s website also features the stories of some of its workers, giving a real insight into what it takes to operate within the UK garment manufacturing industry.

Speaking of his vision for Community Clothing, Patrick Grant said: “Twenty years from now, I would like to see Community Clothing supporting a huge array of factories. State-of-the-art manufacturers, model employers, the sort of place that young people growing up nearby would kill to work at, the sort of places that would make these towns proud.”

The model, he said, could easily work outside of the UK. “The US has lost two million jobs in this industry since 1974. We could make Community Clothing product in US factories for the US market. Exactly the same applies to Japan.”

Community Clothing currently sell only via their website, Selfridges online, Topshop online and Community Clothing’s eBay store.

Community Clothing

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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