Interview with Patrick Grant
We had a chat with Fashion Designer, Judge on The Great British Sewing Bee and BOB Ambassador Patrick Grant to get his thoughts on BOB. How it resonates with his brand values, on why buying British is buying quality and the Launch of Community Clothing.
How do you feel about working with BOB? What got you involved in the first place and what inspires you about Best of Britannia?
BOB is an organisation who we really resonate with. It’s important to our economy that we keep these great clothing and textile makers as busy and as buoyant as we can, because not only is it part of our heritage, it should be part of our future.
A lot of people will look to you for not only your advice or expertise but also to say ‘Let’s get behind this’. Is that something that you feel is really important with working with Best of Britannia, but also with the various makers that you will work with?
BOB plays a very crucial role in not only promoting the idea of ‘Made in the UK’, but also actually making it possible by sharing knowledge, sharing contacts.
It’s about confidence too – we’ve got extraordinary makers in this country. I think they suffer from a lack of self-confidence and if we’re using their services we need to have great confidence in them. I think all the efforts of BOB and others are around giving people the confidence to bring manufacturing back into the UK.
Obviously the recent significant shift in the value of the pound makes it even more economically sensible to be looking to manufacture at home where you can. Who knows what will happen to the value of sterling over the next five years.
You’ve got a great story not only with Norton & Sons and E. Tautz but then with Community Clothing. How’s it going and what’s your next ambition for Community Clothing?
We officially launch our web-store and open our store in Blackburn for Community Clothing September 7. As a brand you can shop us from September 7, whereas before we ran a kick-starter campaign for almost a month where you could pre-order some pieces. But then we had to go away and manufacture those and deliver those. Now we will be available to buy just like any other British-made brand.
But the idea with Community Clothing is to try and fundamentally change the economics. Sometimes people have perceptions of ‘Made in Britain’ as somehow a bit crafty and maybe a bit “home-made” and I think that is a perception that is changing now as people see how many leading designer brands are making in great factories in the UK and how much effort is going into designing great products that’s made here.
The essential story is that it’s affordable to all: simple clothes that are affordable to all. I think for quite a long time there has been this feeling that British-made clothes have to be expensive and for good reason some of them are. Community Clothing uses simple, staple fabrics – everything is made in cotton or khaki cotton. This is not high-fashion, this is simple, stylish everyday clothes. But we wanted to see if there was a way we could have British-made clothes that were at high-street prices and priced at a level that meant that anybody can afford them, not just wealthy people.
It’s the third Buy British Day on October 1st. Why is it so important to “Buy British” and how often do you personally buy British?
For me buying British is synonymous with buying quality. It’s important to buy a good quality product. We don’t do a lot of cheap product here. We mostly do good quality, expensive product in the UK. And just as a general principle I like to buy things that are well-made that will serve their purpose not just for five minutes but for many, many years. We should buy less rubbish and buy fewer but better things – just as a general principal.
But also it is important – if we want our towns and communities across the UK to be vibrant in an increasingly post-industrial UK – that we keep what manufacturing we have actually going. What we have to do is rebuild what we have there because the service can only do a certain amount for us as a country in terms of jobs, but it can only extend so far. For many people jobs in manufacturing were what they would have done when they finished school, so for generations and families – father and son, father and grandfather, great grandfather would follow each other’s footsteps in the same industry. Town’s identities were built on these principles.
Community Clothing will be at Best of Britannia London. To get tickets, click here