London Fashion Week is in full swing and British designers are pinning their hopes on growing demand for UK-made clothing. As Hayley Platt reports The Albion Knitting company is one start-up which is already supplying LVMH, Gucci and Richemont.
It's not mass manufacturing on the scale you might expect in China. But the Albion Knitting Company isn't looking to compete with Asia - on price anyway. Just a year old - the start-up already has an impressive client list including LVMH, Gucci and Richemont. Christine Murphy founded the factory in London having worked in China for 18 years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER OF THE ALBION KNITTING COMPANY, CHRISTIAN MURPHY, SAYING: "East Asian customers, they want luxury products which are made in Europe, made in England, made in Italy so I wanted to prove it was possible to build a modern industrial scale flat knitting operation in London." Christian wanted to take advantage of a revival in British textiles. The industry has been in decline over the last three decades. But a slowdown in China and other Asian economies are starting to see a number of businesses return to Britain. So-called reshoring is now a growing trend according to Richard Hunter from Hargreaves Lansdowne. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF EQUITIES, HARGREAVES LANDSDOWNE, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "The UK economy continues to benefit from the various measures that have been taken it's very much a possibility that particular trend could continue." Official figures show output in the sector has risen in both quarters this year. Manufacturers can compete on shorter lead times and cheaper transportation costs. But there are challenges too. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER OF THE ALBION KNITTING COMPANY, CHRISTIAN MURPHY, SAYING: "Because of the state of the UK knitwear industry very few people have gone into training in the last 20 years so it's been very difficult to find the skilled staff, particularly in knitwear and linking that we need to grow at the speed that we'd like to be able to grow." It's still early days for Albion and others returning home. And reversing more than three decades worth of lost industries may take some time.