UK Denim Industry

Any article on the BBC website concerning jeans is naturally going to catch our attention. We read the current piece about jeans being made in the origin of jeans again (Nîmes in France) with a smile on our face. We won’t provide a full history of denim as it is well documented, but in short the material was created by mistake in Nîmes, imported to the US by Levi Strauss and used to make a particularly durable garment, further strengthened by adding copper rivets at the stress points. The prevalence of denim use in the gold mines (timing is everything), and amongst cowboys ingrained it in to the very fabric (forgive the pun) of American culture.

The jeans industry has evolved somewhat since then and is now a multi-billion dollar industry (do you know a single person who doesn't own a pair of jeans?). One major trend has been the offshoring of denim fabric and jeans manufacture from America and the UK (and other western economies) to the Far East. This was because traditional looms were slower at producing denim and the cost of labour at home was prohibitive. The demand for ‘fast fashion’ has increased, which means buying cheap clothes, cheaply made, and then throwing them away every season to be replaced with more cheaply made garments. The drawbacks to this model are obvious (huge wastage, thousands of extra tonnes in landfill sites, race to the bottom in quality, loss of jobs at home, more sweatshops with dubious labour practices etc) with the only upside being cheap clothes. It is therefore heart-warming that UK jeans manufacturers are making a comeback. Anyone that hasn’t read about Hiut Denim in Wales should check their website out. Clearly at several hundred pounds per pair, they aren’t for everyone, but we salute them and hope they carry on making amazing jeans for many years.

There are other manufacturers in the UK who are producing jeans of premium quality at affordable prices. Our Athlete Denim athletic fit jeans are made in the West Midlands. Every stage of design and manufacture takes place in the UK. We offer the only jeans made specifically for an athletic body shape made in the UK. We can’t claim to be leading the onshoring of denim production but we are certainly part of it and very proud of that fact. Our customers know they are buying a quality product that is made locally and ethically.

We reflect on the latest round of economic data which shows manufacturing PMI’s surprising on the upside* (basically the outlook for the industry is positive), a print of 55.4 (50 being neutral); the highest level since mid-2014. Whilst Markit don’t provide a breakdown of the manufacturing sector constituents, we like think that the clothing manufacture industry is playing a small part in that positive story.

Athlete Denim is a small part of that success story.

 

*We accept that the weakness of Sterling has had a big part to play in this strong number.

1 comment

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