As London prepares for fashion week, the demand for British made fashion and textiles is back in vogue. Ciara Lee visits designer Susie Stone's atelier and asks what makes 'Brand Britain' so valuable?
Susie Stone designs couture wedding dresses and bespoke womenswear. She comes from a family that's worked in the British fashion and textile industry for generations. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DESIGNER SUSIE STONE, SAYING: "Every bespoke dress we make, whether it's a cocktail dress, or something for the red carpet, or what we mostly do is wedding dresses, "It starts with a consultation where I can get to know the customer and what they're looking for from their garment, but also their style, their tastes, the event itself. Together we work on a design and we sketch out some ideas." Once the powerhouse of the UK economy, the textile industry has dwindled over the past 40 years as firms sought lower costs overseas. But now the sector is back in vogue, with fashion houses bringing production home. Mulberry and Burberry are reportedly hiring scores of apprentices as demand for the Made in Britain label soars. Kate Hills is from Make it British. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER AND CEO OF MAKE IT BRITISH, KATE HILLS, SAYING: "There is a huge opportunity at the moment and all the textile manufacturers (I am speaking to are really enthusiastic.) They feel business is better than it has been for decades. They are all investing in new machinery. It's great. (The renewed interest in British manufacturing is really good for their business). The industrial revolution started here with textiles so it will be great if we can get some of that back again." Demand for bespoke British garments comes as the trend of "fast-fashion" is under scrutiny. The 2013 Rana Plaza factory disaster in Banglasdesh highlighted the human cost of cheap garment manufacturing. Susie Stone began her business at the start of the recession. And says people are willing to invest in a quality item made in the UK. (SOUNDBITE) (English) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DESIGNER SUSIE STONE, SAYING: "British textiles is very iconic. I think we have some of the oldest mills in the world. I think that people associate companies like Harris Tweeds or Linton Tweeds. These are family run businesses that have a fantastic product. and it's something people associate with timeless quality and glamour." And that's an appeal for international markets too. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER AND CEO OF MAKE IT BRITISH, KATE HILLS, SAYING: "Research has shown that particularly the BRIC countries are interested in buying products with the Made in Britain label on. It says it is good quality. For instance China, they don't want to be spending money on Chinese made goods. There is a certain cache in owning something that is brand Britain." A report from Barclays estimates British exporters could unlock over two billion pounds by branding their products Made in Britain. The challenge for the fashion and textile industry will be reviving a skilled workforce, that had all but disappeared.