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Quickfire Q&A

Daliah Simble, Head of Production at Roland Mouret

Daliah Simble is Head of Sourcing & Production at Roland Mouret. She has worked extensively within the UK fashion industry for the past 20 years working both with High st and Luxury brands.

Roland Mouret

What’s it going to take to revive British manufacturing for the fashion sector so that it’s a sustainable, thriving production option?

The demand is now high for UK manufacturers. Most lines are at full capacity. The work force within the management and at factory floor level is an ageing one. Recruitment is conducted via adverts in Polish and Romanian newspapers or by poaching workers from other units. There is no fresh pool of talent to draw from.

In order for the UK manufacturing to thrive and become a sustainable option, we need young apprentices and investment in technology and premises for factories. We also need the fashion universities to put Production Management back onto the curriculum so that we have a fresh pool of talent who understand how a factory operates and how to manage the relationships on behalf of the brand or retailer. This option disappeared from the curriculum during globalisation in the 90’s.

What do you think are the key driving factors pushing production back to the UK?

All the boxes are now being ticked. The UK offers complete visibility from a compliance point of view. Travel and shipping to and from overseas factories is expensive. No duty implications. Speed to market. China was once seen as the holy grail, but manufacture prices are rising, duty is at 12% on garments and shipping from China to UK, especially by air, is now a costly exercise.

What unique strengths does the UK fashion production sector offer that will set it apart from competitor markets?

The UK alongside Italy, Portugal and France all offer a different set of expertise that is attractive to Luxury brands and in turn their customers. Gucci is known for Italian production and Dior for French production.

Last century the UK was seen as a benchmark for quality in tailoring and outerwear. The common misconception is that quality has now disappeared. Now a whole new era of Luxury UK designers are now being known world wide for UK production.

How do you incorporate these issues into your role as Head of Sourcing and Production at Roland Mouret?

I have spent the past 5 years revisiting and sourcing UK manufacturers. Establishing and building relationships and working with these factories to achieve a certain level of quality. The beauty of UK manufacture is that it is a highly collaborative process.

UK manufacture makes sense for a label like Roland Mouret for all the reasons listed above. We are delivering a beautifully crafted product. Our other manufacturing bases are Italy, France, Portugal with a very small amount in China.

I’d like to see the emergence of some high end jersey factories in the UK as this is an expertise we are lacking at the moment, and have to go into Europe to source manufacturers for this category.