Manufacturing Locally in The UK vs. Overseas


28 June 2023

Manufacturing Locally in The UK vs. Overseas

One of the most important steps to starting any fashion brand is figuring out how and where it will be produced. People often dive headfirst into designing products and marketing the company without considering the manufacturer which is where your final product will come from.

At Bodywear Lab, we encourage our clients to utilise local British manufacturers where possible as we see many benefits including more control over the process, more flexibility and directly contributing to the economy. 


First of all, it is super important to consider and evaluate what are the important factors to you, your brand values and your requirements for your products as this will affect which manufacturer is best for your brand.

For example, is production runtime a factor you need to focus on, perhaps if you have stock to send to retailers who work on strict timelines? Are delivery costs an issue for you? Do you value having a relationship with your manufacturer, ensuring a sense of trust and ease of communication between you? Are you producing in large bulks or smaller quantities? Are you simply trying to cut back costs as much as possible or are you willing to spend a bit more time and money to guarantee the highest quality of your products? Once you have your answers you will be better equipped to select the manufacturer that best suits your needs.

When it comes to manufacturing locally in the UK, one of the biggest benefits would be having a sense of control over the production process. It is much easier to collaborate and ensure the product is coming out as you want it to be having ease in communication with the manufacturer.

Sometimes, some issues or decisions need to be made once production has started, and it will be easier for you to solve any problems if you can directly go to your factory, or have direct communication with the factory managers. Additionally, you are more likely to have the option to produce smaller quantities of your product in a UK manufacturer than overseas.

This can be beneficial for those starting in the industry and who may still need to test the market with less stock at hand. Because the batches are much smaller, the production and delivery time of your stock is also a lot shorter, further avoiding additional shipping, duty and tax costs that you would get from abroad.

Despite this, labour costs in the UK are higher, the average manufacturing wage is 12% higher than the whole economy. It is important to note that the UK is the 9th largest manufacturing nation in the world and 8th in the world for the fashion industry; they generate up to around £183 billion annual output in manufacturing and 51% of all UK exports are of goods manufactured on the island.


On the other hand, if you decide to manufacture overseas, the costs of manufacturing will be lower considering that worker wages tend to be lower than in the UK and you will have the ability to produce in much larger quantities due to the larger scales of manufacturing companies available abroad.

Some overseas factories may also have technologies more advanced than what is available in the UK such as the latest machinery or CAD/CAM systems which may be required to use as part of your production process. This is due to a recent lack of funding in the UK for the industry.

However, depending on where you decide to produce overseas there may be difficulty in communication either due to a language barrier, differences in terminology or perhaps due to different time zones. Also, there might be the issue of different sizing standards between different countries which needs to be taken into account, as well as different methods for quality control. Logistically speaking, it can be more complicated to coordinate and control a process happening from a distance, especially when producing at a large scale.

Finally, apart from the cost of production being lower, the cost of importation will be much higher due to tax, duties, insurance and overall shipping costs if your main market is in the UK or a different country than the one you are manufacturing in. Furthermore, some factories will require a percentage of payment upfront if you haven’t built a relationship with them and this can affect your company’s cash flow. Another factor to consider when using factories overseas is delivery time; it can take several weeks for larger orders to be shipped to the UK and you must also prepare for delays at customs.

Here at BWL, we believe that it is much easier to produce locally if you are looking to manufacture in smaller batches with higher quality. You also have more control over the process and it is better for the environment as it cuts back on the carbon footprint of your production process.

However, you might be better off manufacturing overseas if you are looking to cut costs on production, produce larger bulk orders or if your product requires technology that can only be found elsewhere. 

In saying that, as industry experts, we’re here to make this process as smooth as possible. If you need to produce in bulk, thus need to partner overseas, but you also want to ensure the sampling process is taken care of and you no longer have to worry about the product coming out as you want it to, we can take care of the entire production and sampling phase with us here at BWL.

We can ensure that your tech packs and samples are perfect and precise as well as recommend trusted overseas manufacturing partners that we have a trusted relationship with, so you can sleep easy knowing your products are being made to your standards. 

Furthermore, if you are an international brand looking to manufacture in the UK, you may find yourself with certain benefits you wouldn’t have thought of previously. Firstly, the sterling pound is at an all-time low, so you may find yourself cutting costs in some aspects. Secondly, the ‘Made in the UK/London’ label is not one to underestimate, customers trust it, especially concerning the quality this label offers.


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What is Brands of Tomorrow?

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.

What is Brands of Tomorrow

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.