By Voyage Reporter Emily Murray
With the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics, there has never been so much red, white and blue bunting hanging from shop windows, porchways and lamp posts as there has been in 2012; there is so much of it that Britain probably looks like a colourful blob to those looking down from the space station. This year people, from both within the UK and internationally, have gone Brit-mad and the promotion of all things British is becoming a priority in many sectors; those benefiting the most from the international spotlight are the creative industries: one of the most notable of these is the British fashion industry which is holding its own, as it has for some time, as a world leader in design.
World-renowned British designers such as Paul Smith, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, John Richmond and Philip Treacy can be a bit out of the price range of the average person on the street, but there does seem to be increasing opportunity to buy British brands at (relatively!) accessible prices. Liberty.co.uk has a wide selection of British designers, whereas if you're looking for British bags, jewellery or scarves then Esther Porter, Merleogrady or Silken Favours are great places to browse for items to put on your wish-list. Although the Swedish H&M is still prominent on European high streets, Topshop, part of the Arcadia Group of British high street clothes shops, dominates British high streets and has become more and more multinational.
Made in the UK
Recently, there has been a lot of attention focused on the concept of products 'made in Britain', a campaign which encourages Brits to buy into and boost their own economy by choosing home-grown design and manufacturing: currently the majority of clothing worn by people in the UK is imported from the Far East. A recent campaign which received a lot of media attention was led by Mary Portas, a retail expert and broadcaster; she reopened a previously thriving factory in order to produce a pair of knickers made from only British materials: in doing so, she got unemployed workers off the dole and behind the sewing machines.
Despite having once been at the forefront of the manufacture of materials such as linen, many of Britain's factories have closed down in the last thirty years due to being unable to compete with cheaper alternatives: Mary Portas, alongside other campaigners, would like to see Britain regain its place as a world leader in the manufacture of clothes. With the current trend of looking in-house for design and manufacturing as well as the rise of production costs in the Far East, it looks like British clothes and textile manufacturing could see a revival in the future. What is for certain is that, even once the bunting has been taken down, the British fashion industry will still be waving the flag for British design across the world.