When the pandemic hit and the world was falling apart, we had cancelled orders from retailers and customers. The future looked bleak. In March we started making face masks. They were in short supply and we wanted to reduce demand on PPE at the time, which was in desperate need for the NHS and key-workers.
Starting with one machine, we made a sample and put it online. We expected some abuse and maybe the odd mask order. Both came along. Then came the fire. A literal fire, in the mill we were based at. Meaning we had nowhere to make masks.
So, we set up in a newly refurbished shipping container. Initially making only around 50 a day. We systemised the process and added more machines and staff, by the end of June we were able to make 600 a day. Creating jobs for those laid off by the pandemic.
On the back of this we took the leap and started manufacturing more in-house and now we're developing staple garments that will be designed, sourced and created on-site. What started out of necessity is now an essential part of our new and future collections.
We are incredibly proud of the fact that we are starting to make more products in house.
Our Manchester Factory going forward will be the life blood of our sustainable approach where we will be using our team's skill and experience to design new garments, work with local businesses to source new materials and create products - limiting the environmental impact of our collections.
Manchester was built on the textile industry and while this industry has changed and shrunk over the last century, we hope that our new local approach will reinvigorate a dying trade and encourage new people to get involved in more local-focused, economically sustainable and environmentally conscious practices.
Our new factory also enables us to train up local young people and stem the migration of talented designers, cutters and seamstresses out of Manchester.
We wanted to give an insight into our Manchester Factory and we hope over the next couple of seasons we will expand our factory both in terms of the talented people working there, the size of the space and the output of products.