Monday, 14 February 2011

Made in England on Channel 4

Michael Stoll and James Eden outside Cooper and Strollbrand.
A still from Channel 4's Made in England documentary. 

In recent seasons commentators and brands alike have taken a keen interest in how and where their clothes are made. There have been numerous labels launched on the 'Made in the...' wave of public intrigue and enthusiasm and I for one, welcome it. One of the most intriguing launches of the past twelve months was Private White V.C which we introduced to you all back in October. Now, you should remember from my previous post that the label comes from the very heart of Cooper and Stollbrand, the largest independent clothing manufacturer in the UK. This week, Channel 4's critically acclaimed First Cut strand always showcases the best in bold, bright and original documentaries by up-and-coming filmmakers turns its attention to clothing manufacturing in England and visits the renowned factory. To whet your appetite we are pleased to share a little more information about the documentary and include a selection of film still and factory shots.

To this day they sculpt and cut all their patterns by hand and still use exactly the same traditional techniques that were used in the 1960s and 1970s to cut, make and finish all of their garments.
A still from Channel 4's Made in England documentary.

Directed by Satnam Authi, Made In England, will doubt provide a unique insight into the clothing factory business in Salford. The documentary, to be aired on Friday at 7.30pm will provide a unique insight into the Salford based clothing factory business. Authi's visits Cooper and Stollbrand during the busy run-up to Christmas. Made in England takes an intimate look at the factory floor through the eyes of football-mad Jean and perfectionist Dot, who provide a vital link between management and the machinists as the business works towards completing orders in time for the festive rush.

A selection of the one hundred plus workforce in action.
A still from Channel 4's Made in England documentary.

There was a time when Lancashire was at the heart of the world’s outerwear industry. Now, the factory is one of the last bastions of the clothing manufacturing industry in the UK. Private White V.C serves as a reminder that they have and hopefully will always continue to make fantastic, market leading garments using the finest British materials and craftsmen. Cooper and Stollbrand has been producing, developing and designing for over seventy years from their factory in Salford. The company boasts a team of close to one hundred staff where they hand craft all of their patterns and manufacture their garments to be sold across the globe. The factory was taken over just over three years ago when James Eden left his lucrative job in the City to buy a stake in the business which was originally founded by his Great Grandfather, and World War One Victoria Cross winner, Jack White. Since taking over, Eden has dragged the factory out of the doldrums and into the twenty first century, developing a business that produces garments for high street retailers, premium designers and the factory's own label called Private White V.C. in celebration of both the war heroics and the garment making legacy left by his Great Grandfather on the region. 

The cutting room.

Now, I know that I will enjoy this documentary. One of my own personal highlights of blogging has been the opportunity to visit different workshops around the country to learn what can be made and the possibilities that still exist. Earlier this year I watched a pair of Dr Martens pass through the conveyor belt of skilled craftsmen at their Wollaston factory from moulding to the application of the Air Sole. Another post involved a trip up to the Cheaney factory in Desborough. For me, Cheaney represent the height of English Bench Made shoe making. It takes eight weeks to make a pair of Cheaney shoes, it involves around one hundred and sixty hand operations, from cutting the leather through to finishing, combining the best of contemporary design with superb quality. 

One of the machines in the factory.

It is always an absolute pleasure observing craftsmen at work. Long may these traditions continue and be supported. There should be a universal desire to make everything as well as possible. We should approach 'Made In England' knowing that there is a long history and tradition of producing certain products extremely well, for example jewellery, textiles, tailoring and shoes. Of course British manufacturing is much, much, smaller than in years gone by, there are always difficulties and some traditions or techniques have unfortunately disappeared. Of course it would be easier to produce things more quickly in other countries, but sometimes it is about establishing relationships too and keeping traditions alive where possible.

The pattern for one of the label's jackets.

Made in England airs on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on Friday 18th February and will be available on 4OD soon after.


Anonymous said...

Look top, I will be watching. Cheers for the heads up.

Matthew Spade said...

really glad someone gave me the heads up on this one, will defo be tuning in. we worked with this brand at the company i worked for in manchester, c&s that is

Unknown said...

Te sigo! (:

Pasate! ^^

Fashion Philosopher said...

I think it is getting more and more inportant for people who are interested in fashion to ask where and how the products are made. The way we consume today is not sustainable anymore and what is so bad if you buy a proper pair of shoes and wear it for ten years! I will tune in too. The Fashion Philospher


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