The Kingdom Bites Back!

FROM WEST TO EAST AND EAST TO WEST/ a summary of my research

Posted in Summary by martinbatt on May 21, 2010

MY STARTING POINT

In this project my thoughts immediately drifted to Asia. This is a part of the world where I have some limited business experience, friends and contacts. The idea of India and China becoming dominant world players in my lifetime appealed to me as a starting point for my project after reading an article in the Economist. I believe this may result in changes in the way trade with Europe has taken place over the last five decades, but as India and China become affluent those changes result in possibly the opposite of what has happened so far. As my experience has mostly been with India I decided to embark on getting a better understanding of the country, its main religion and business ethics.

“Every time I go to India people ask me about China. Every time I go to China people ask me about India. Who’s going to win between these two emerging giants? I always give them the same answer: India and China are like two giant superhighways, and each has a big question mark hanging over its future. The Chinese superhighway is perfectly paved, with sidewalks everywhere and streetlights and white lines neatly down the middle of the road. There’s just one problem, there is a speed bump called “political reform”. When 1.3bn people going 80 miles an hour hit a speed bump, one of two things happens. One is that the car jumps into the air, slams down, and the drivers and passengers turn to each other and say, “You OK? You OK?” Everyone is okay, so they drive on. The other thing that happens is that the car jumps up in the air, slams down, and all the wheels fall off. Which will it be with China? We don’t know but we are hoping for the best – the stability of the world depends upon it. India is also a giant superhighway, only most of the road has potholes, some of the sidewalks have been finished, a lot of the street lights are out, and there are no visible lane dividers. It’s all a bit chaotic, yet the traffic always seems to move. But wait a minute. Off there in the distance it looks like the Indian road smoothes out into perfect six-lane superhighways, with sidewalks, streetlights, and white lanes. Is that a perfect Indian superhighway a mirage or is that an oasis? Will India one day claim its future or will it always be chasing it, teasing us with its vast potential”.
“If you can have such good roads in the Infosys campus, why are the roads outside so terrible?”…..I had just ended my pitch to him (my visitor) about why India was emerging as the world’s next growth market and how the country was rapidly catching up with the developed world”.
Imagining India, Thomas L. Friedman, 2009, Page Foreword

So India is one of the world’s major growth markets. There are already 584m mobile phone subscribers in India, accounting for about 50% of the population. This can be perceived as a measure of affluence.
http://www.telecomindiaonline.com/india-telecom-growth-and-subscribers-2010.html

“A survey by Hewitt Associates suggests that employers will raise salaries by 10.6% this year, compared with a 6.6% rise in 2009… Having never fallen as steeply as elsewhere in Asia, India’s wholesale prices are now rising faster than anywhere except Thailand. “India is at one extreme,” says Robert Prior-Wandesforde of HSBC… In its statement, for example, the central bank cited increasing capacity utilisation as an inflationary threat. By one measure, prepared by the National Council of Applied Economic Research in Delhi, capacity utilisation has returned to its pre-crisis peaks. But India lacks a robust measure of core inflation, or comprehensive measures of employment and wage pressures”.
The Economist (London); Mar 27, 2010; p. 81

“We are in a new era of speed. Montek Singh Ahluwalia has pointed out that India has moved from a time “when growth was at 3.5% every year, while population grew at 2%, which meant that per capita income doubled every forty-five years.” But now, he notes, a growth of 8-9% and population growth at less than 1.5% means that our per capita incomes are doubling every nine years. Such growth is coupled by rising aspirations and is fuelled by media in a country where television sets are quickly becoming ubiquitous. We only have a dim comprehension of what this pace of change means in terms of how we will cope with challenges in our environment, energy, health and infrastructure sectors.”
Imagining India, Nandan Nilekani, 2009, P.461 (Co founder of Infosys)

This indicates that salary levels are increasing with the accompanied price inflation for goods and services. So how long will it take until India reaches the salary and accompanying cost levels in Europe, and what could be the scenarios when this starts to happen? I refer to here a to a presentation at the CNN TED forum in 2009 from Hans Rosling called “Asia’s Rise – How and When”.
Hans Rosling in a humoristic way plots the rise of India and China based average life expectancy and income per person over time. This is compared to Europe, USA and Japan. Based on historical data and today’s trends he is estimating that the whole of India (and China) will reach the same levels as Europe well within the next 40 years.

THE REALISATION

At this point I realised there may be two opportunities for some tangible project work based on these two directions:
1) India was a huge growth market and was there an opportunity to accomplish and test a real project through friends and accomplices based in India.
2) Due to the rapid growth in India (and China) could there (in the next 40 years) become a turning point where the majority of the world’s middle and upper class came from India (and China)? And would this lead to a renaissance for the manufacturing industry again in Europe as the cost levels in India (and China) have increased due to salary inflation over the coming decade. In 40 years time India and China will no longer be low cost just as countries like Korea and Taiwan lost their low cost mantle in the 80’s and 90’s. How could this affect England?
Therefore I decided to explore and research each direction.

THE FIRST DIRECTION – GOING EAST

The first direction turned into a project to research how European branding principles could be applied to an Indian retail outlet.
In order to get a better understanding of business and culture I wanted to understand the Indian mindset. I consider the CNN TED presentation from Devdutt Pattanaik, East versus West, the Myths that Mystify to be illustrative of business challenges and the difference in Indian and Western mindsets.
“Ganesh and his brother Kartikeya flew around the world their world, Kartikeya  leapt upon his peacock and flew around the world covering oceans and continents once twice and thrice. Ganesh simply walked around his parents and said once, twice, thrice and said I won. How come said Karikeya? Ganesh said I went round my world, you went round the world. My world is subjective, emotional, personal, belief, myth, perceptions and feelings. Why does the sun rise, why were we born? The world is objective, logical, universal, factual, science. How does the sunrise and how we are born! My world is better than your world. Westerners are often exasperated when coming to India, for instance can an Indian explain what is the process to invoice the hospital? Step 1, step 2, step 3, and mostly! Best practices developed in the USA or Japan do not work in India. Different beliefs in “God” lead to consistent misunderstandings of each other”.

EAST IN PUNE – FAST FOOD

My approach was through a contact/friend who has established a fast food chain with several outlets in Pune, Maharashta, India. I wanted to understand the business and how I could apply “western” branding principles and then measure the predicted increase in turnover. The name of the outlet is “eighteen” and I compiled the following questions to the owner Mr Akhil Mathur:
1. Who is the target customer, social and financial profile?
2. Who else is competing for your customer’s loyalty and devotion?
3. How do you differentiate from the competition?
4. What do you offer in addition to food lines?
5. What is the catchment area of your customers?
6. How big is the fast food market within the demographic you are competing in Pune?
7. What is your market share?
8. What type of advertising and promotion has been used so far and how did they fare?
9. In what way have you used social media such as facebook, twitter and virals?
10. What is the name of your brand and the slogan that accompanies it?
11. How do you keep track or an eye on the market you are competing in?
12. What do your customers think about your current brand?
13. What would you like them to think about your brand?
14. How do you attract them to your products and services?
15. Do you sell any kind of merchandise?
16. Do you have special events, themed weeks, themed food etc?
17. In which mediums do you market yourself?
18. Are the food types considered to be Indian, Western other Indian geographies?
19. How do you price your products?
20. In house eating, takeaway and delivery?
21. How is the food packaged?
22. Are you targeting primarily business and consumer sectors?
23. Do you approach corporate customers and events needing catering?
24. How often do the same customers return?
25. Is the language Hindi and English or one or the other?
26. How many employees? Female/male? Do you have company uniforms?
27. In what way does the “traditional” colour play a part in India?
28. If vehicles are used for delivery in what way are they branded?

The answers are as follows:
1. Young and educated, speaks English, typically from the IT industry
2. Mostly other local Indian outlets, few foreign brands
3. We focus on a mix of Indian and western type menus
4. Only food, nothing else
5. Radius of 3kms
6. Do not have figures but we have counted 27 outlets within that 3km radius
7. Within the 3km radius we believe to have an estimated 10% market share
8. Flyers and shop front logos etc
9. No internet based “advertising” to date
10. Brand name is eighteen, no slogan
11. We tour the area to keep an eye on our competitors, both price and products offered
12. We have not implemented any formal customer feedback mechanism
13. Tasty selection at competitive prices in a young an informal environment
14. Word of mouth, repeat customers and short waiting time
15. No
16. No just seasonal variations in the food lines
17. Printed media such as flyers and word of mouth not the internet
18. Mainly Indian
19. Individually and as a package including drink
20. In house, takeaway and home delivery
21. Mostly in greaseproof paper and other paper packaging with our logo
22. Both segments
23. Not yet
24. We do not rack this but believe 30-40% are returning customers
25. Mostly Hindi, not pure English
26. Each branch has 5-6 full time employees working shift
27. Limited as we tend to be international
28. They display our logo and phone number

I wanted to understand if social media based advertising and branding techniques could be applied but prior to applying this needed to understand the Indian culture and what was allowed and what was out of the question. As Hindi culture is dominant (83% of the population) I researched how this belief could have an influence on a fast food outlet.

Food and pollution

“Traditionally the importance of a good diet, its effects on the body and the hygiene requirements for proper preparation are well accepted……according to Manu (the first human being) a healthy diet produces a healthy body and a healthy body produces a healthy mind.”
Food is categorised according to its effects…sattvic foods which are generally light and nutritious…diary products, vegetables, cereals, fruit…rajasaic foods that cause heat and stimulation in the body the same food group, although the difference lies mainly in the liberal use of spices and herbs in their preparation…tamasic also includes fish and meat. Such food is euphemistically called tasty and is characterised by hot, spicy, bitter and fermented foods, which have a dulling effect…”

Specific foods are chosen and prepared for different occasions. Generally there are two ways of preparing food pukka (deep fried) and katcha raw, including boiled, lightly fried and baked food. It is permitted to accept pukka foods from a class lower than your own, but not katcha…the cook must not taste the food after cooking, as that would make it impure. All food must be offered to the gods before it is consumed. Vegetarianism is not universal among Hindus”

Simple Guides Hinduism, Venika Mehra Kingsland, 2008, p.74-75

“A substantial difference between India and China is the legacy left by India’s colonial past. Many brands familiar to the British are just as familiar to Indians. Cadbury’s, Lux, Will’s, Surf, and Horlicks have almost lost their “foreign” identities and are seen more as Indian brands.”

The Global Brand, Nigel Hollis, 2010, P.94

“The world’s Knowledge Hub of the Future. And in support of such ambitious goals, the sponsors of the annual meeting remind us that India has 380 universities, 11,200 higher education institutions churning out around 6,000 PhD’s, 200,000 engineers, 300,000 science graduates and post graduates annually and that R&D investment has been growing at a compounded rate of more than 40%”

Globality, H.L. Sirkin, J.W. Hemerling, A.K. Bhattacharya, 2009, P.53

My conclusion from the questionnaire is that still today and in a high tech city such as Pune, little technology and Internet based “advertising” has been implemented to increase the turnover of the fast food outlet. There are finite restrictions on the food and how it is prepared compared to a normal European fast food outlet and this must be carefully considered.
The graphics for eighteen definitely had room for considerable improvement and I wanted to provide a new look solution, however given the time allowed for this project and issues related to air travel recently I decided this could not be accomplished within the project deadline. Also this would mean considerable upheaval for the business and it requires more research and considerable implementation planning. I will however continue this process at a later date as I see this as exciting project both due to the lack of internet based “advertising”, the specific challenges imposed by the religious and other cultures in India and the opportunity to implement a more appropriate design for this market.

SECOND DIRECTION – GOING WEST

The second direction turned into a project to research a renaissance for the manufacturing industry again in Europe as the cost levels reach European levels in the next 40 years.
Today we all buy cheap clothes from Asia, predominantly from China and India, however based on Hans Roslings predictions in (Asia’s Rise How and When) during the next 40 years China and India will have an average cost level which is equivalent to the UK. This means that the availability of cheap clothing production will decrease in the Asian countries. Other important issues will be the carbon footprint created by shipping goods half way across the world and the growing market for quality goods and clothing due to the growth in the middle and upper classes in China and India. The preservation of traditional skills for production of quality clothing and fabrics is a critical issue. One of the most recongnized English quality brands are the bespoke tailoring companies of Savile Row and their suppliers.
In this respect I decided to look at the clothing and textile industries as these are dominated by products from China and India flooding the market in England. I wanted to see if there was an industry left in England whereby both textiles and garments could still be adorned with the Made in England label. Could this be branded and sold to the growing China and India premium and middle class markets, or maybe this was already happening?

This took off in two major directions:
1. Savile Row the quintessential English clothing brand
2. Fabric/textiles and garment manufacture, is there still an industry in England, can we still claim to have the Made in England brand?

ONE      SAVILE ROW – THE BRAND ICON

Research notes from BBC three part documentary series about Savile Row
Savile Row is and iconic address and is over 200 years old. The street itself is the tailor’s identity, Mayfair the trivial home of the gentleman. A bespoke suit transcends time as it’s not fashionable, but something you can look back at and say it’s a beautiful thing. Traditional Savile Row companies don’t advertise, they gain business just by word of mouth. The clothing label is hidden inside the jacket pocket on most suits. Service is personal, profits are miniscule and advertising is vulgar. Menaced by global retailers, these are dark times for the gentlemen of the Row as they prepare to go head to head with global retailing. The tailors might look like sitting ducks but they have survived attacks by the Luftwaffe and Giorgio Armani. Global is looking menacing and local is looking chique. Savile Row ticks all the right boxes, old fashioned is suddenly looking very modern. Labels say you’re one of the boys, but a bespoke suit says you are the man, it’s a product made for the market of just one.
The Savile Row suit is created on the premises without fanfare or damage to the planet. The T-shirt is a throw away item, but the Savile Row garment is a family awe. These clothes will never become landfill, today’s notions of sustainability and provenance have always been taken for granted here. The tailors have been eco conscious since the eighteen hundreds. To be a member of the Savile Row bespoke organization you have to make the garment on and around the street itself. It takes 15 weeks to make a suit, the time it takes the customer to realise they probably need another suit, that’s how it works.

Tweed

There are easy ways of buying cloth but, but there are not easy ways of buying beautiful unique cloth. Genuine Harris Tweed must be woven by an Islander, preferably in a tin hut. The supply is per definition limited, too small for a high street retailer to consider. Donald John Mccay rarely receives buyers up from Marks & Spencer. Do people once again value craft and quality Mr McCay asks and points out that the tweed is environmentally friendly too.

Tailor Richard Anderson

For tailor Richard Anderson, creating a bespoke garment requires intimate contact with the customer and when the customer can’t come to the Row, The Row goes to them. A unique service probably not on the offer down at the local jeans outlet. For his foreign customers Anderson is prepared to bend the Savile Row rules regarding advertising he’s promoting his own product. Richard Anderson’s business partner is Brian Lishak a Savile Row Godfather who’s been crossing the Atlantic to keep his customers satisfied for 51 years. Savvy Manhattanites would rather make time to come to a hotel and spend loads of money on bespoke garments. American cash makes up 70% of the income on the Row.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Three months after Abercrombie & Fitch opened they seem to be breathing new life into the Row. For now the teens aren’t thinking bespoke, but the gentlemen of the Row take the long view, in twenty years time some of them might be customers. If the tailors are still here then it will be because they are providing a remarkable product from natural material and because in a world of marketing puffery Savile Row is quite simply the real thing. Tailor Patrick Grant doesn’t think that Abercrombie & Fitch cheapens what they do on the Row. In a way it’s great for the Row that we now have something that drags a whole different audience of people. If you asked your average teenage girl where Savile Row was six months ago I think you would have gotten a lot of confused faces. Now everyone knows where it is because it’s the place where you can come and look at boys and if that brings people here it’s great for me.

Holy Ground and Foreign Affairs

Savile Row is an iconic address, holy ground in the world of men’s clothing. The tailoring businesses on the street are individuals, neighbours who like to keep themselves to themselves, but now they want to get noticed in the international menswear market. They are going to have to work together to get their show on the road, shed their traditional discretion and seek publicity. There’s a new big name retailer on the street (Abercrombie & Fitch) who are teaching them about marketing. But can the tailors get brand savvy without selling their souls? Saville Row is the perfect brand, it’s very name speaks of quality, the service is unparalleled and personal. Garments are made largely by hand and the result looks discretely distinctive. Global retailing and mass production this isn’t. The Savile Row suit is very green, a once in a lifetime purchase that lasts forever, a classic above the whims of fashion.

Mark Henderson Gieves & Hawkes

Mark Henderson managing director of Gieves & Hawkes believes that this little community leads the world. He just wishes the press wanted to write about that. Henderson wants the tailors to tell the world about their product, but they are a conservative bunch. The makers of Rolls Royce cars don’t go knocking on doors so why should they?

Tailor Ozwald Boateng

Ozwald Boateng has never been backward about coming forward. He believes their famous reticence could kill the tailors off. Boateng says; You can’t keep a tradition running in a way it always did two hundred years ago, because it’s got to evolve with time, if it doesn’t it dies.
Time For Action

The modernisers believe it’s time for action. Tailor Mike Henderson wants his neighbours to take control of their image and promote themselves. Savile Row has got an established reputation, but the reputation has been in some danger.

Henry Poole & Co

Henry Poole & Co is as old as they come but Director Alex Cundy is right on message, he means they should make more use of their brand name. Cundy’s way is rules that defy members of Savile Row bespoke, regulations about handwork and craftspeople, premises and training help determine what the tailors are and what their imitators are not. It’s manufacturing on the spot and you have to have a cutter and one or two work people as a minimum actually on the premises and that the majority of your garments are made on Savile Row or within 50 yards or so of the Row he says. The Savile Row brand is about authenticity, unless the tailor is here or just around the corner his clothes can’t now be called Savile Row, it’s location location location. Henry Poole & Co are the founders of Savile Row and opened is doors in 1806.

Edward Sexton (Outlaw Territory)

In Knightsbridge “the hideout of bespoke bandit” Edward Sexton. Sexton left Savile Row because of financial reasons, the rent being too expensive. Sexton is a Savile Row GOD, a key player in it’s history. He lives and breathes bespoke and embodies everything the brand stands for. His website states “you can take the boy out of the Row, but you can’t take the Row out of the boy” Forty years ago Sexton was the genius behind Tommy Nutter, his customers were pop-stars and pot smokers and while they outraged the neighbours his bespoke creations put Savile Row in the spotlight and made it look modern and relevant. He says we were the first company to have an actual window display, dressing the Beatles, Mick Jagger and making Mick and Bianca’s wedding clothes. Tommy Nutter is a story for any fashion writer, Sexton is an authority on the history and politics of British tailoring, he’s an old Savile Row fixture, whatever the new rules say. He says the 70′s was the decade of the French, the 80′s the Italians and the 90′s should have been the decade of the Brits, but economy and world-wide recession has set us back. We are now just catching up, so I think it’s time now.

Henry Poole & Co Of Hanloon?

Henry Poole & Co tailors have licensed their name to a company called Hanloon tailors who make clothes that are Henry Poole of Savile Row but not on Savile Row. Tailor Dave Ward is going over to China to see that the brand is in safe hands. For two centuries Poole & Co has tried to get their name known amongst foreign gentlemen, opening branches in capital cities on the way up. Last century it was Tokyo, this century its Beijing. China is the place to be, the market everyone wants into, but is the Savile Row brand safe in this burgeoning economy? The Bejing store is a franchise. In all China Mr Loo, owner of Hanloon tailors is Henry Poole & Co. Has he correctly interpreted the sacred brand? Would a London customer feel at ease here? It seems he would… The Store is suitably Mayfair, the very essence of Savile Row. Ward entrusts the manager with something even more precious, the DNA of superbrand Britain Limited, Big Ben, Policeman, The Proms, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, the latter being in German hands now. Mr Loo’s staff tailors will be creating bespoke suiting using cloth sent from London, the garment and the experience must be worthy of the name Henry Poole & Co. Ward has come here to instill in these master tailors a whole new astethic, he is Savile Row, can they be? Differing tastes are a special concern to Henry Poole & Co, they understand customers who like steak and a well tailored trouser. But can they come to understand men who like rice and a mandarin collar or might something vital be lost in translation?

Tailor Ravvi Taylor and Evisu Jeans

At Savile Row nr.9 Ravvi Taylor is learning the hard way about the need to be brand savvy. Two years ago Ravvi wanted help with the rent and leased out the front of his shop to a top end Japanese jeans company. He moved into the back thinking it would be business as usual, but his Savile Row alure was swamped by the powerful denim brand. He’d hoped the young coming in for leisure wear would fancy lounge suits but they didn’t, Ravvi says I have lost a lot, I have lost a lot of American clients. Unfortunately with the Japanese connection they wouldn’t go anywhere near the place. The writing is on the wall, Ravvi might even have to leave the Row to get his Savile Row quality back. Ravvi Taylors experimental liason with his denim clad shopmates has failed after two years. Ravvi’s hoping to become more Savile Row again by moving out. He’s moving in with an ancient tailoring firm just around the corner. The question is, how far away is the corner? Wil Ravvi still qualify for Savile Row bespoke?

James Sherwood Style Journalist

Style journalist and bespoke servant James Sherwood wants to blow the tailors trumpet for them. He believes their history is their greatest marketing tool. He’s talked the tailors into putting it on display. He’s after the ancient ordering books gathering dust up and down the street. He’s been asked to curate an exhibition of Savile Row bespoke at the Palazzio Pizzi in Florence. The Tailors keep record of every garment ordered, every bill paid and otherwise from Churchill to Sinatra. Norton & Sons have a list of what was bought by Sir Winston Churchill. Poole & Co are so old they are a bit passé about their history, in the basement boiler room Kings and Commodores share a shelf space with mousetraps and cleaning products. Two nineteenth century clients are causing problems Napoleon the third and Princess Eugene probably aren’t missing they’ve just been mislaid temporarily for the last fifty years or so.

The Savile Row Roadshow

The Savile Row roadshow has arrived in Florence ready to take part in the world’s biggest menswear trade show. I think it’s about time we’ve come over a lot of people have wondered why we haven’t done it before. You see Italian names all over the world, whereas you tend not to see English name’s. Not that we are here to say we’re better than the Italians, we’re here to say this is what Savile Row can do. The tailors are in for a rough ride. This is the fray they must endure if they want to dip their toe in the international menswear scene. They’ll need to shed their traditional reserve fast. British bespoke tailoring may be a world beating product, but none makes it in this business scrum without a struggle. Mark Henderson says this is an opportunity to really show what Savile Row has done but also to show what Savile Row does do and it’s the biggest menswear show in the world so to be at centre stage here is a fantastic honour for Savile Row. James Sherwood’s vision of Savile Row is in a palace across the river of the menswear show. He’s showing the tailors their own history and they will be judging if he got their history right. This is a historic moment, their best work is being exhibited together. Who made what doesn’t matter, it’s the group message that counts. Upon arriving at James Sherwood’s exhibition Ozwald Boateng says; here now for the first time to see all the tailors together is phenomenal , can you imagine this happened here in Italy first. It’s interesting we haven’t been able to come together in London. These men are the Savile Row brand and the media are on hand to capture the moment. It may be hard to measure how successfull a trade festival like this is but at least the tailors themselves have seen how impressive Saville Row can look.

TWO       MADE IN ENGLAND BRAND


Sam Cam, that M&S dress and the great big fashion scandal you all need to know about

“When Samantha Cameron wore that blue grey dress with white polka dots, cap sleeves and Thatcherite bow at the neck for the Tory conference earlier this month, she was widely applauded for the fact it cost only Pounds 65, and was off the peg from good old Marks & Sparks.
Except it turns out that it wasn’t. The dress, in a vintage print to celebrate the store’s 125th birthday, had sold out. Panicked, the store turned to the dress’s designer and manufacturer, Alison Mansell, to quickly run up another one. Which she and her seamstresses, Svetlana Markeviciene, 41, and Spyroulla Antoniou, 52, duly did, at a cost of about Pounds 150. Knowing the dress was for Samantha Cameron, Alison Mansell gave it to the store, which, nonetheless, charged the unwitting Mrs Cameron the going rate, albeit with a 20 per cent discount.
Alison Mansell was particularly generous, given that her firm, Amanda Marshall Ltd, which is based in North London, had been dropped as an M&S supplier back in February, putting many jobs in danger.
Oh, what a tangled web was weaved in getting this dress on to the back of the wife of possibly the next prime minister. And you wonder why she wasn’t just told it had sold out, and could she not just choose another one?
The story of this dress raises two important issues. First, the fact the British garment industry is in dire straits due to the mass exodus abroad by pretty much all of our big brands.
Marks & Spencer now manufactures only 5 per cent of its clothing in the UK. Another great British brand, Jaeger, which as recently as 1983 manufactured 95 per cent of its garments in the UK, has since allowed the number of its British manufacturers to dwindle to precisely zero.
Burberry, too, which is fond of trumpeting its British heritage, oft repeating the fact that its trench coats were designed to keep our soldiers dry in the trenches of World War I, and which was welcomed back into the fold of London Fashion Week last month, closed yet another UK factory in January this year — in Rotherham, South Yorkshire — with a loss of 170 jobs.
I can’t help but mourn the loss of our own garment industry: the skills, the heritage and the all-important jobs.
And while many high-profile American designers such as Ralph Lauren and Phillip Lim have banded together to help save New York’s garment district from extinction, it’s a huge shame that leading British designers fail to see the loss of home-grown artisans and employment as a problem worth bothering about.
The second issue the Sam Cam polka dot dress raises is the hoary one of freebies and discounts. In the interests of transparency, I too possess a much coveted 20 per cent discount at M&S.
It is marvellous, and means I can buy anything from a bag of salad to a sofa far, far cheaper than someone who is not lucky enough to be a celebrity, a politician’s wife or even a member of the fashion press.
David Cameron, at the very same party conference, wore a bespoke suit by Savile Row tailor Richard James. The suit would cost mere mortals Pounds 3,500; Cameron paid Pounds 1,185.25”.

Sam Cam, that M&S dress and the great big fashion scandal you all need to know about Daily Mail (London); Oct 26, 2009; LIZ JONES; p. 54

DNA Fabric

In a move to ensure the authenticity of Yorkshire suits, a DNA ‘fingerprint’ is being woven into the fabric. The method will help customers ratify the garment as original by using swabbing techniques.
The idea of introducing plant DNA into the suit material was conceived by James Michelsberg, proprietor of Michelsberg Tailoring in Leeds.
The textile industry was very vulnerable to counterfeiting, which is also one of the major problems facing this industry, Mr Michelsberg said. He added that every garment supplied with DNA from a single plant will be genuine as each plant’s DNA is unique.
The idea took shape after Mr Michelsberg met staff from the Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield, which works in collaboration with New York-based Applied DNA Sciences.
The Applied DNA Sciences finally came up with a project of turning the idea of plant DNA usage into reality.
John Cavendish in Huddersfield manufactures the garment and the new technique is expected to become a trend in the Far East where Yorkshire suits are famous.

Textile Centre of Excellence, Bill McBeth, 2008 Press Release


Made in England – what is left of the textile and garment industry

Is ”Made in England” just for Savile Row, Mayfair and iconic British fashion designers?
Typically access to quality textiles and fabrics is important for clothing manufacturers, so is there a textile industry left in Britain that not only supports the desires of the clothing manufacturers but can reduce the vast carbon footprint generated by the global clothing industry?
Can improved branding of the British clothing manufacturing industry bring a renaissance to certain areas of the clothing industry? In reality can Britain be more competitive than many other parts of Europe based on the weakness of the pound.
Is there a second tier of clothing manufacture in Britain that is far from the realms of Primark but positions itself under Savile Row in terms of cost? Quality and innovation is in the drivers seat so how do today’s British manufacturers survive and can branding and especially by utilising new medias etc. increase awareness. Not just for the domestic market but also for niche markets in the Asian region where there is an accelerating class of customers hungry for mid to high end and unique products. So can Made in England be sold back to the Asians, into the very heart of what has been their own back yard for last few decades.
Issues such as counterfeiting must be addressed but can the “Made in England” brand grow in the Asian markets. Are the skill sets still available in Britain to pick up this challenge?

I started by contacting the Regional Development Agencies in England, there are nine of these each covering a specific geographical area.  I spoke with June Wills an economics researcher at Yorkshire Forward, assuming this was the best region to start with based on the history of textile and fabric production over the last 150 years. I was forwarded to the Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield where I spoke to Janet Askey PA to the Managing Director. Some information was available in their site http://www.textile-training.com however this was mostly manufacturers of fabrics and textiles. I called to Janet again and her boss Bill McBeth the Managing Director suggested I looked at http://www.ukft.org the site of UK Fashion and Textile Industry. This list’s both garment manufacturers and textile/fabric manufacturers.  However it seems these are fragmented and many work in niche areas. There is some dominance from the Savile Row environment however it can be quite demanding to decide if all garments really are Made in England. Most likely bespoke garments are Made in England but the manufacture of “made to measure” often seems to be outsourced to low cost countries with several weeks turn-around time.
There is clearly still a textile and garment manufacturing industry in England. Although the UK Fashion and Textile Industry organisation acts as an umbrella for many in the industry there is no common Made in England “brand” developed, such as a stamp of approval that is available to the members. Where brand Made in England could developed along similar lines as the Scottish Cashmere Club trademark which is a guarantee of exceptional quality in Cashmere fibre and production. Likewise the Harris Tweed Authority with the Orb trademark is a similar propostion.  I planned to explore the opportunities of this and raising brand awareness by questioning a number of British based companies in the clothing industry to understand to key issues regarding Brand Made in England and how they survive today and plan to grow in the future.
I have also investigated the DNA fingerprint (plant based) into the fabric as a means of guaranteeing authenticity. It has been developed for fabric and verification is based on swabbing techniques. This can be impractical and may need to be developed for a volume consumer market. Application of the same technology can be a useful aid also for authentication of where the garments are manufactured. This could be developed together with the Made in England stamp of approval.
Based on the relatively short deadline of this project I could not pursue this as a practical and tangible project. However I feel there is definite need to bring this industry back into the limelight and would like to return to this as my career develops.

There is a need to treat Made in England for this industry as a brand or an accessory to the end product brand, this means all the tools of branding must be utilized to create the desired perception.

What is a brand?
“A brand is simply a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer”

The Global Brand, Nigel Hollis, 2010, P.9

“In research and development work conducted by Millward Brown in Mexico and the UK, we asked two open ended questions of people who had expressed a preference for a brand, the questions were:
1. When you think of (brand), what memories and associations some to mind? You might want to consider images, pictures, feelings, sensations, words, people, places or occasions.
2. What do know about (brand)? You might want t consider things like the product itself, its packaging and how much it costs.
On average, for each brand, people offered eight associations. These associations differed markedly across brands, even among those in the same product category. They included such things as product attributes, rational and emotional benefits, places and events where the brand was used, the brands price, it’s perceived value and the type of people who use it…The origins of the brand associations are legion. They may be rooted in nostalgic memories from childhood or shaped by messages from the brand’s advertising…”

The Global Brand, Nigel Hollis, 2010, P.9-10

Dwelling on the Made in England theme I turned to some more quirky British people and habits to see if there was any added value in raising brand awareness. I have noted that the “John Bull” figure impersonated by ex policeman Mr Ray Egan. He has been protesting against off-shoring of British industry, most recently the sale of Cadbury’s to the US based Kraft Foods. I am not sure if this association really adds brand value so I have parked this for the time being.

“Ford may have invented the modern motor car but it was Britain and Brits who styled the Jaguar, the Roller, the mini and dreamed up the Aston Martin…but British engineering gave the motoring world flair, culture, design classics and motoring heritage…and only Britain could create a programme like Top Gear where three petrol heads can command an audience of millions (350 million in fact – it’s one of our most successful TV exports and also one of the most popular TV shows anywhere in the world)…

Gaunty’s Best of British, Jon Gaunt, 2008, P.69

Associations with other British greats from the industry from bygone days as M&S has done with Twiggy can also be an approach for raising the Made in England brand.

“The hero was based on David Bailey whose photographs of Jean Shrimpton (“The Shrimp”) appeared in most upmarket magazines. With enormous eyes, long, tousled hair, sensuous mouth and long legs, Shrimpton had a chameleon-like quality that rendered her the perfect vehicle for wide range of 1960’s styles”

Fashion since 1900, Valerie Mendes/Amy de la Haye, 2010, P.188

On 15 April 1966 Time magazine splashed ”London the Swinging City” on its cover and, accurate or not, the description stuck. The article revealed an enthusiasm for London’s youth orientated attractions.  In the mid 1960’s British teenagers had money to spend on entertainment (chiefly pop music), clothes and cosmetics. In London, the place for the young to meet, hang out and exchange their weekly wages for reasonably priced ready-to-wear clothing was Carnaby Street.

Fashion since 1900, Valerie Mendes/Amy de la Haye, 2010, P.179

So can the great icons of today or yesteryear be used to “re-launch” the Made in England brand for the garment and textile manufacturing industry? The swinging 60’s both from a fashion and music point of view is something that generations can relate to and can be used in a Made in England branding campaign. What about the return of the high street tailor or is this just something reserved for David Cameron’s of the society? I am convinced this is an area that can be successfully addressed and developed but not within the time constraints of this project.

NEXT VOYAGE

So far this has been a voyage into India and the fast food industry to the Made in England clothing and textile manufacturing industry, and I’m more than half way through my project without having tangible material to present as my final project. In my opinion all great projects whether related to advertising and branding agencies, or to the greatest products coming out of Google the common denominator for success is working in groups to arrive at the most creative and appropriate solution.
Throughout having workshops with fellow Saint Martins Students Alexander Prior and Anders Godal discussing our individual research we came to the following conclusion; that we in our separate projects shared common grounds in terms of breathing life into and maintaining old traditions but in a new environment by shared experiences. Me through the cultural heritage of the manufacturing industry in Britain, Anders through memes, language, systems of belief and how they are spread and kept alive, Alex through hidden narratives, verbal/non verbal communication and codes. Based on this we decided to find out if we together could develop a solution where information exchange is vastly improved with the goal of enhancing the value of the project.


BIOGRAPHY

Imagining India, Thomas L. Friedman, 2009, Page Foreword

The Economist (London); Mar 27, 2010; p. 81

Imagining India, Nandan Nilekani, 2009, P.461 (Co founder of Infosys)

Simple Guides Hinduism, Venika Mehra Kingsland, 2008, p.74-75

Globality, H.L. Sirkin, J.W. Hemerling, A.K. Bhattacharya, 2009, P.53

The Global Brand, Nigel Hollis, 2010, P.94

Sam Cam, that M&S dress and the great big fashion scandal you all need to know about Daily Mail (London); Oct 26, 2009; LIZ JONES; p. 54

Textile Centre of Excellence, Bill McBeth, 2008 Press Release

The Global Brand, Nigel Hollis, 2010, P.9

The Global Brand, Nigel Hollis, 2010, P.9-10

Gaunty’s Best of British, Jon Gaunt, 2008, P.69

Fashion since 1900, Valerie Mendes/Amy de la Haye, 2010, P.188

Fashion since 1900, Valerie Mendes/Amy de la Haye, 2010, P.179

Research notes from BBC three part documentary series about Savile Row

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