When Andrew Tainton, co-founder of Brighton-based kitsch gifts business Wu and Wu, read a book about high street clothing chain Zara’s localised approach to designing and producing fast fashion, it inspired him to start bringing the manufacturing of his products home from China.
Tainton saw an opportunity to slash his forbidding lead times, dramatically improve cash flow and reduce waste – the smaller production runs allow demand to be tested and the business to react to what shoppers want, he says.
Unfortunately, unlike the retro “sew a dolly” tin kits Wu and Wu sells, a commercial scale textile operation is proving frustratingly tricky to put together.
“It was a great idea but my implementation has been poor.”
The scathing self-assessment applies purely to efficiency and labour woes, he says; in another sense, moving the production of the company’s textile products – cushions and bags designed and illustrated by Tainton’s wife and co-founder Fiona Hewitt – to Brighton has worked a treat.