We are just over half way through a very challenging year for people all over the world. There is absolutely no doubt that the 2020 pandemic has wreaked havoc for so many businesses, big and small. Let’s also not forget how fortunate we are here in the UK unlike so many throughout the globe – in that we have some form of safety net and provision. It’s very humbling.
Due to challenges caused by this pandemic and the ongoing lockdown, our UK manufacturing was brought to a standstill. But if a business is to survive, these challenges should always be met ‘head on’ with a view to turning them into opportunities.
The slower pace and ‘think time’ provided by the lockdown and its proceeding weeks gave myself and my fantastic team the space to consider and investigate how we could turn this tricky situation into an opportunity. It has always been a dream of mine to have our own ‘onsite’ manufacturing unit but it didn’t feel like it was the right time to change how we worked. Now, many things had changed and this ‘great pause’ was the ideal opportunity to move forward.
Our area of West Yorkshire in the North of England has a deep rooted history in textiles and there are still pockets of people with experience, ability and talent that thrive in a ‘making’ environment. So another nudge for me was when I recently rediscovered my history book on the Textile Mills of West Yorkshire (#historybuff #geek). Whilst browsing, I came across an old image of our Mill: ‘Wellington Mills’ in Elland (see below). The image shows one of the floors in work (we think it might be our floor) from the early 1930s.
Although our mill was involved mainly in spinning – this image really demonstrates the manufacturing history of this building. Since most mills in the area have been converted to flats or demolished, it really is fantastic to be in this great place. I was completely inspired by this image.
The third and final push for myself personally to move forward with our manufacturing unit, was when i was involved in making scrubs during the height of the lockdown. I started a local Scrub Hub and ran the hub from our somewhat deserted offices. Our hub was inundated with volunteers and I met some amazing people. Working with these volunteer home sewers – we made 154 sets for a mix of GPs, Volunteer Dentists and even delivered an order to our local A & E. Whilst being a little stressy at times, i really enjoyed getting back onto a sewing machine (will admit breaking a needle or two) and also hand cutting again. It was like returning to my roots.
As a result of the pandemic, things are changing and more people are becoming interested and concerned about product origins. The House of Foxy would never fit into the ‘fast fashion’ category – our focus being to produce high quality items to be treasured. Our intention is to be able to create more and more special products at our on-site factory. Already, we are earmarking production for winter coats, special occasion wear, suits and our menswear….
It’s now the end of July and we have just received our first batch of machines, interviews for staff are in progress and we are slowly converting the space into our little manufacturing unit. We hope to fully open in early September depending on pandemic guidance as it is essential we ensure our machinists are social distanced and protected. It will certainly feel great to have created jobs and to be manufacturing here in Yorkshire again.
Simply put – good things can come from difficult times….
Watch this space!
foxylady July 28th, 2020
It is unusual to manufacture here in the UK – that is fact. Until the 1990s – it wasn’t unusual, but typical for clothes to be made here. With rising wages and new rules governing how this industry works in this country, things changed rather quickly. Suffice to say it’s a hotbed of political opinion and not something i would often raise in polite conversation with anyone who experienced that change unless i had plenty of time to spare!
And this isn’t a post about ethics or politics or pricing – it’s about our lovely factory and our core values.
We currently manufacture the majority of our House of Foxy dresses, coats and trousers at a dedicated factory.
We have 4 sewing machinists who bring a variety of different skills and wisdom to the team. We mainly do ‘through-work’ which means that one person generally makes an entire garment rather than just a ‘piece’ of it. This – again – is fairly unusual. You will soon find special labels in each of the dresses – saying who has made your garment!
We also have a Pattern Cutter who looks after all our patterns and cuts the fabric for each garment. We use traditional methods and our patterns are on card and cut by hand.
Our Garment Finisher quality checks each garment, does all the hand finishing such as adding any of the trimmings and packs the garments ready to send.
Finally our Production Manager overseas the whole process and runs a tight ship!
Having a dedicated factory gives us the facility to create new products quickly and means that we don’t have to resort to strict seasonal collections. I would find that too restrictive and since i get design ideas during the season too – this is ideal. This is a designers dream. We are extremely privileged to have a team of people who are so dedicated and get as excited as I do about all our garments.
It also gives us a great deal of control over quality – something that is really important. We aren’t fast fashion orientated – we are creating clothes that we want you to love and enjoy wearing for many years.
foxylady December 15th, 2017
Posted In: About The House of Foxy