Made in Britain - a lost love?
Is anything made in Britain anymore? This is a question that's asked a lot these days..
As a nation we've had a rich history in design and manufacture - the 19th century saw our heyday and industries like textiles, iron and pottery absolutely thrived.
Sadly globalisation and cheap overseas labour has led to a decline over the years and much of this industry has now moved abroad. In 2020, approximately 20 billion pounds worth of apparel and clothing accessories alone were imported into the UK.* We're here to tell you though, that there is actually still a lot to shout about.
The wool trade once accounted for 80% of exports from the British Isles*. Oubas (named after Oubas Hill in Cumbria) aim to 'alter the way we purchase clothing and offer an alternative to global supply chains'. This gorgeous British wool sweater is perfect for 'those wanting to invest in pieces they will have in their wardrobe for a long time'.
At Hope and Story, we want to inspire a renewed love for Britain and its industry by bringing you the best of great manufacturing that still takes place here. We are passionate about reinvigorating British manufacture and promoting the quality and craftmanship that comes with it. If we don’t collectively support these skills they will be gone forever, and who wants to see that happen? Not us, that's for sure.
When we come across products like this Handforth All-Metal Factory Wall Clock from Synchronome Clocks it makes us smile. An example of quality and skilled craftmanship, it is handmade and unique and takes us back to when British production was in its prime with its solid industrial feel.
Our team is all about all things British. Quality goods that are born, bred and made right here. We support inspired makers and champion our community. Why shop British? Well, this really should be a no brainer.
It's more sustainable
These days, most people are conscious about their environmental impact and shopping locally and more sustainably is perfectly suited to those mindful of reducing their carbon footprint. When you buy something that has ‘Made in China’ stamped on the bottom just think about the huge impact on the environment those unnecessary airmiles have had.
Arcform offer handcrafted modern British lighting and sculpture like this pendant light and 'strive to minimise their environmental impact'. Everything is made in Warwickshire, the centre of England.
Boost the local economy
By purchasing British made goods you are also helping to boost our economy and create job opportunities. Shopping local is vital for our economic growth and to provide support to our communities.
Preservation is also key. Outsourcing has led to a shortage of essential skills and we really need to support the ones that are left. Surely we don’t want to lose our rich manufactural heritage all together?
The Monkey Puzzle Tree are a great company who celebrate British design, craftmanship and manufacturing. All of their designs are made here in the North of England - many in the same mills that have been used for generations by classic textile brands. They work with some of the UK's most innovative artists to bring you gorgeous products like this lampshade.
Invest in quality
By investing in skilled craftmanship that has been handed down through generations you are also getting quality. Not cheap and tacky products that end up in the bin after a couple of months, but items that are beautifully made and of the highest quality. We want to uphold the reputation that ‘British Made’ implies so we have teamed up with makers that really care. Grafters.
By buying British you are able to shop with a clear conscience. The fashion industry in particular has become renowned for appalling conditions and use of slave labour (think Nike, Gap, Calvin Klein etc) and by buying proper British goods you are not supporting this. 90% of clothing bought in Britain is now manufactured overseas so let’s champion the minority that are doing it here, and hope that one day they will be in the majority!
You’d think buying British should be pretty straightforward but often all is not as it seems.
There are an abundance of brands and products seemingly presenting themselves as British, yet not telling the whole story. Using misleading labelling they are pulling the wool over our eyes. They are outsourcing practically all their production globally and then just assembling it over here and sticking a union flag on it. There is a worrying number of brands disingenuously using the tag line ‘Made in Britain’ and trading on their British heritage. This is really unfair on those companies producing real homemade goods.
Take pottery for example. Stoke is world capital of ceramics and the great pottery manufacturing names of Wedgewood, Spode and Royal Doulton, to name but a few, are celebrated around the world for their excellence of craftmanship. The ‘Made in Staffordshire’ stamp is a hallmark of global excellence. So, when companies try to trade off that skill by passing pottery off as ‘made in Britain’, when it has been made abroad but only finished here, it is wrong on so many levels. Not only is it harming jobs and investment in the UK it is, morally, trading off the skills, sweat and application of generations of stoke on Trent workers who turned the ‘made in Staffordshire’ brand into a world class mark of excellence.
Lost Gentleman mug - all of Ali Miller fine bone china designs are carefully crafted and hand decorated in their Stoke-on-Trent factory, making these products 'decadent, unique and quintessentially British'
The Hope and Story standard
We want our consumers to be able to make an informed choice – not led into believing they are buying into 300 years of British craftmanship, when in fact they are not.
This is why we have created our own H+S standard. We carefully vet our brands and products. If the items are predominantly treated or manufactured in the UK, or the majority of their sustainable core materials originate from here, they meet the H+S standard. If a product doesn’t meet this standard then it is simply not listed.
We can assure our customers that all of our products are well and truly British - we want to extinguish that feeling of mistrust and uncertainty that we often have when buying. We are all about honesty and transparency.
*P. Smith, 13/1/22, Statista.com
*Britishcouncil.org (March 2022)
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