Jenny Holloway is a fashion force to be reckoned with. Having worked as a buyer and designer in her youth, Jenny went on to advise young designers on building their businesses as part of a government project. When the government funding stopped, there was a gap to be filled, so Jenny set up Fashion Enter. In ten years, Fashion Enter has come to incorporate a factory that manufactures over 10,000 garments a week.
You’re the Director of Fashion Enter, a not-forprofit that manufactures clothing in Britain while being one of the largest training providers for apprenticeships in the UK. How does one help reinforce the other?
The factory underwrites the cost of running the academy. Since government education budgets have been consistently slashed over the past few years, we need our own funding stream to ensure the longevity of the programme. Fashion Enter is the only live factory entwined with a training academy in the UK. It’s so eye-opening for the apprentices to learn about while seeing all the process involved in a working factory, which is part of the reason why I think we were awarded ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED. We really do positively impact the industry through both our ethical manufacturing and our apprenticeship training.
UKFT recently stated that over 60% of the British manufacturing workforce are over 40. How can we encourage more youngsters to uptake roles in manufacturing?
We go into primary and secondary schools to tell those interested in fashion how vital technical skills are. So many youngsters want to become designers or creative directors without realising that design is only a small part of the role. Understanding how a garment is constructed and a collection is produced is crucial to any designer’s success. Big UK retail chains need to invest in British manufacturing too. Not only do they have the capital to facilitate this but also, by owning their own UK-based factory, retail chains would have more control over an integral part of their business. Fashion Enter is living proof of what can be achieved since we’ve been supported by ASOS. This would provide more jobs and prove to the younger generation that manufacturing is a viable career option.
All 52 manufacturing processes of our glasses occur in Britain. What value do you think ‘Made in Britain’ adds for the consumer?
Personally, I only buy clothing that’s been manufactured in the UK. I won’t even go into some shops because their clothing costs so little that I know they can’t have given their suppliers and manufacturers a fair price. While there will always be consumers who don’t care about ‘Made in Britain’, there’s definitely been a favourable shift towards sustainability and ethical sourcing in recent years. At Fashion Enter, we’ve spent four years developing a technology called Galaxius, which showcases our transparent production. Using the QR reader on your phone, you can scan the barcode on your garment to see the faces of everyone involved in the supply chain. If industry continues to create systems like this, no doubt more consumers will start to care where their clothing comes from.
What effect do you think Brexit will have on British manufacturing?
I think that demand for British-made product will increase. Certainly the enquiries and amount of sampling that we’ve been doing for British brands is at an all time high postBrexit. Since the pound is weak at the moment, more European designers have also started looking at manufacturing in the UK. We’ve even had an enquiry from the States. Suddenly ‘Made in Britain’ and especially ‘Made in London’ have more of a cache. The main problem with Brexit for us is that 80% of our workforce are Eastern European and we aren’t yet sure what the deal will be for European migrants. Our apprenticeship programme is now more important than ever as we need more Brits in manufacturing.
Manufacturing in Britain is great for reducing the industry’s carbon footprint as clothing doesn’t need to be shipped from far-flung countries in order to be sold. In what other ways is making clothing in Britain more sustainable?
Nowadays, the industry makes smaller size runs because ranges, particularly when it comes to the high-street, are rolling as opposed to being too set. When we first started with ASOS, we’d make runs of 3,000 garments and now we rarely ever go over 800. If the consumer responds well to a certain garment, ASOS will re-order additional stock. Since we’re local, we have shorter lead-times for production (3-4 weeks from inception to sale) and can therefore be more receptive to market demand. Say, for example, there’s been a bestseller Bardot style, we can quickly produce it in other colours, with embellishment and for different departments, like petite or curve. In this way, manufacturing in Britain enables the retailer to be receptive rather than preemptive of the consumer’s demands. These healthier economies of scale mean that ASOS can still produce 3,000 units of a style in a much more economical and sustainable way because the products don’t end up in sale or landfill.
That I look ‘absolutely fabulous’. I also get a lot of intrigued looks from passers-by, probably because they’ve never seen glasses like these before. I hadn’t before Caren put them on the market and that’s what makes them iconic.
For any enquiries please contact:
Caren, Shaun or Nigel
For PR enquiries please contact:
Todd Watkins. Preditor PR