Last night I watched the first episode of Mary’s Bottom Line, in which Mary Portas is on a crusade to bring textile manufacture back to Britain. This is a subject that is so important to me, even more so as I began my career in the lingerie industry and Mary is focussing on the manufacture of knickers.
I was shocked at how hard it was for Mary to find materials made in Britain in order for her product to be completely British. Also shocking was the state that the decline in industry had left towns in. With unemployment such an issue in the UK and import prices starting to go up, maybe it is time to slowly revive the deserted factories of Britain.
I was struck by how emotional the process was for Mary, from seeing the derelict factories, speaking to the unemployed and hearing the stories of her interviewees. And we are all in our own way responsible, there is a culture in buying cheap throw away items. The days of buying or making quality items and repairing and keeping them are long gone. I myself love being able to buy cheaper items and having a wardrobe full of dresses which it doesn’t matter if I only wear a couple of times because I can always afford something new.
As a vintage trader I see clothes that have stood the test of time for over 60 years, British made with British fabric and still beautiful and wearable.
Mary is right, we are all too happy to buy knickers for £3 but maybe we should forgo a coffee and muffin in Starbucks and just pay that little bit extra for a British product. Knowing that we are putting money into British industry and providing jobs for British people one pair of knickers at a time.
I have had 3 jobs in 3 different lingerie companies and have sold some of the worlds most luxurious lingerie brands. I have seen some of the finest european laces. What struck me watching the programme last night was how in my time selling lingerie it had never occurred to me that none of what I was selling, or buying myself was British. I think that is the most important thing about what mary is doing here. It’s about raising the awareness of British consumers that we need to buy British, we need to support our industries and we need to encourage jobs for our unemployed.
I cannot wait to see the rest of the series, and see what obstacles stand in the way of Mary and her knicker brand. But most of all I cannot wait to see the product launch and buy my very own pair of British knickers!
Mary’s bottom line in on Channel 4 on Thursdays at 9.
For more information visit the channel 4 website here