Esk Valley Knitwear
Recently I took a trip up to Esk Valley knitwear in Annan, Scotland. This is one of the main manufacturers of quality knitwear in the UK, and is home to where Nigel Cabourn knitwear is produced.
The factory has been around since the 60's and it was a bit like stepping back in time. With the old Brother sewing machines, reams of yarn tumbling out of boxes and beautiful knits being hand crafted, the place felt very special. As soon as I walked into the main factory, I was immediately hit by the heat, which was bellowing out of the large industrial American style dryers in the corner. Between this and the sounds of the busy machines, the factory felt very authentic, not sterile, somewhere that was 'proper' and somewhere that has not changed much in all the years it has been around.
The ladies working on the machines were so concentrated and busy as they moved around the factory room, you could tell by watching them how much skill and confidence they had, and the attention to detail they carried through in their work.
I love to see that British manufacturing is still alive. For me, it's important to respect the craft and the dedication that goes into these specalised factories. This was something that I have grown to appreciate over my 4 years in the fashion industry. Before working at Nigel Cabourn, I didn't really have an interest in where my clothes were made, nor did I understand the struggles British Manufacturing has faced over the past decade. Made In UK clothing is traditionally much more expensive. Often UK based factories cannot compete at the lower price scale, and I expect they would not want to.
From being as Esk Valley, it was clear to me the dedication, and craft that goes into each individual product. This factory did not feel as though they were churning out thousands of the same piece, or cutting corners. Each garment was given time, and was handled by professionals who truly enjoyed their work. This is reflective in the end result and the beautiful garments manufactured here. For me, I would rather pay more knowing I was supporting British manufacturing. At Esk Valley, garments are made with heritage and integrity by people who are true specialists in their trade. For me that is worth its weight in gold.
Many thanks to Stuart Maxwell for his kind help and the time he took to show me around the factory.
There will be a further piece and an interview with Stuart, featured on the Nigel Cabourn online journal in mid August.