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Somerset’s fashion make-over

Posted: 8/10/12

A number of recent successes in the fashion industry are giving Somerset its very own fashion make-over. Mulberry’s luxury leather goods, urban menswear designer Jenny Schwarz, Duchess of Cambridge favourite Alice Temperly, Duo shoes and boots, and world-renowned shoe makers Clarks, are all making news for the county and highlighting its credentials as a hub for fashion and creative excellence.

In her latest collection, Somerset, international fashion icon Alice Temperly, has drawn inspiration from her roots, naming the collection after her beloved home county. The new range, designed exclusively for John Lewis - and the store’s fastest ever selling brand - is taking the fashion industry by storm.

At London Fashion Week*, Somerset’s flagship fashion brand Mulberry returned to its roots in leather craftsmanship. Inspired by its extensive archives, Mulberry revived biker jackets and introduced high-waisted wide leg trousers, handcrafted in nappa and teamed with sweaters, for a take on classic seventies styling.

Somerset 3D’s newest ambassador, urban menswear designer, Jenny Schwarz, says, “There isn’t a better place for my designer-wear business to be based. The creativity sector in Somerset is extremely vibrant and being positioned in the countryside is very inspiring. The location here is fantastic, I can be in London in only a couple of hours and reaching international fashion shows is a breeze, thanks to the close proximity of well-connected airports. I am delighted to support Somerset 3D’s great endeavour to encourage other businesses into the area and am honoured to be an Ambassador for the cause.”

It’s not only the fashion-pack that’s impressed by Somerset’s fashion culture, it makes great business sense too and the manufacturing industry in Somerset is thriving. Ian Scott, Group Supply Manager, at Mulberry says, “We are known for our quintessentially English style, and we have created a thriving business from the heart of rural Somerset. 

“With significant growth over the last five years we needed to grow our manufacturing base and wanted to keep it in the UK. Somerset remains the perfect location for us to trade from, for our UK and international markets, and was the obvious choice for our second factory. Somerset has a strong tradition in the leather trade and we’re helping to keep these skills alive, and of course we’re benefitting from the skills of staff in the area.”

Similarly, when Deborah Meaden – famed for her role on the BBC TV show, Dragon’s Den – purchased Fox Brothers in 2009, it was the high end quality, creativity and passion that attracted her. The company has produced woollen and worsted fabric in Wellington, Somerset for nearly 250 years. Officially credited as the original creators of flannel, to this day it combines traditional manufacturing processes with state of the art design technology, producing the finest wool and cashmere cloth available in the world. It is for this reason that many of the industry's most discerning and demanding clients, including London's historic Saville Row tailors and top fashion houses, choose Fox Brothers' luxury cloth. 

Rupert Cox, Chief Executive of Somerset 3D, the county’s inward investment organisation comments, “The creative industry in Somerset is thriving, currently employing more than 6,500 people. The county is proving to be a successful environment for established and new fashion brands.

“They benefit from the supportive business ethos and network available, which can encompass professional advice and input, access to a skilled workforce, a base from which to connect nationally and internationally, plus there’s the amazing lifestyle benefits, from housing to schooling and Somerset as an area of outstanding beauty.  The county offers like-minded people, which makes Somerset a good place for the fashion industry to do business from.”

As a key industry in Somerset, the creative sector offers exciting opportunities for people who want a more rewarding life without compromising on their business aspirations. Somerset boasts invaluable collaborations in the county, including SCAT college (Somerset College of Arts and Technology), the Somerset Design Enterprise Network, ArtsMatrix and South West Arts Marketing, all painting the picture of success in the industry.

Somerset 3D offers a tailored business relocation service, giving advice and information to facilitate the process. To find out more about the opportunities Somerset can offer, or for advice and guidance on setting up a business in Somerset, call on 0845 1222 066 or visit www.somerset3d.co.uk.