BRAND BUILDING

The Creative Director of Your Samples Collective, Daniel Peters, shares some of the trials and tribulations that come with launching a new menswear brand.

You’ve no doubt been hearing and reading about it on a daily, or even hourly basis, and just like you I am incredibly bored about the elephant in the room that won’t seem to disappear, or better yet come to a head.

The elephant in question is Brexit, and it’s been looming overhead now for what feels like a lifetime, with businesses and consumers alike wondering what impact it will ultimately have on us.

Now, not to worry, I’m not about to start spouting off about why the big B is bad or good for us (I have views on this which I’ll reserve for another time) but instead why I originally chose to manufacture within the E.U. and what I think this will mean for my business moving forward.

"We end up going door to door to find our perfect match *less Tindr than it sounds*"

I’m a proud Brit and E.U. resident for the most part, in particular when it comes to manufacturing and the impact that it can have on our economy. 

Before garment production moved to Asia in the 80’s, the U.K was a thriving resource for fashion brands and designers, churning out high quality pieces by the bucket load, but cheaper pricing overseas drove a wave of high street and luxury brands to shift their focus because of better profit margins.

Whilst the bank balance of our British brands swelled, it came at the detriment of our manufacturing workforce / factories, and ultimately diminished the quality of what consumers lined their wardrobes with. 

Since kick-starting my career in fashion I’ve been a big advocate of British brands, especially those who began to reignite the flame for U.K manufacturing, and when I launched my previous venture, keeping it British was always at the forefront of my mind.

The likes of London Undercover, Private White V.C, Sunspel and Hiut Denim have all been at the forefront of flying the flag for consumers who were calling out for products of provenance, and it’s been great seeing more companies bring some of their production back to our shores, including the likes of high street favourite Marks and Spencer who saw the value in giving the customer something that they’ve been calling out for.

It was important for me when developing Your Samples Collective that I only worked with factories and fabric mills inside the European Union, as it would give me more visibility of factory working conditions, better ability to monitor quality assurance, and simply put, because I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I see a garment label that brandishes the wording “Made in Britain” or it’s E.U equivalent.

It was important for me when developing Your Samples Collective that I only worked with factories and fabric mills inside the European Union, as it would give me more visibility of factory working conditions, better ability to monitor quality assurance, and simply put, because I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I see a garment label that brandishes the wording “Made in Britain” or it’s E.U equivalent.

I somewhat naively thought that it would be a simple process of finding a UK based factory for outerwear, a Scottish mill for knitwear and a Portuguese manufacturer for cut and sew of jersey products. But after a few months of trawling the internet for answers, google spat out a limited number of fruitful answers.

The problem that I and many others have faced in this process, is that there were a limited number of official resources, a directory as such, that list out factories and manufacturers based on their speciality in the garment field, with their location.

We end up going door to door to find our perfect match *less Tindr than it sounds* talking endlessly about what we want to achieve and often balk at the production prices that we are quoted, but that first hurdle is often overcome, and I’ve been lucky enough to partner with teams in London and Italy that I trust to deliver a quality product that I or the consumer can trace.

Many would argue that they choose to keep production overseas because with the made in Britain label comes a heftier price tag, not just for the consumer but for you the designer, fair, but this shouldn’t always be seen as a barrier to entry.

I made a conscious decision early on that I would be transparent in my pricing, not inflating the value of the products, but ensuring that whilst I still made a profit that this didn’t come at the consumers detriment.

Taking into account that our relationship with European countries will definitely change in the coming year, some of my production prices will rise because of import fees and general inflation of the cost of yarn, but our products will always remain E.U produced and fairly priced, even with the emergence of Brexit.

There is a feeling of immense pride that I am overcome with when a consumer questions the heritage or provenance of my products, not just because I can confidently answer this question, but because I’ve stuck to my guns (and will continue to do so) in creating a sustainable European made product.

I’m hopeful, perhaps rather foolishly, that Brexit will not continue to cement the fate of many more British businesses like those who have fallen into administration, but the weight isn’t solely on our shoddy governments shoulders, we need to ready ourselves and our businesses in order to move forward.

So here’s to flying the flag and staying true to our brand intentions in these turbulent times.

Thinking back to the issue raised above about a lack of information, there are thankfully a few brilliant resources being made available to budding designers, which I’d recommend for people to sign up for and check out.

British Fashion Council https://www.designerfactfile.com/

Utelier https://utelier.com/

CFE https://fashion-enterprise.com/


Daniel Peters - YSC Creative Director

Images @John Kitchin