Wyedean Weaving, which supplies military uniforms and accessories to Britain’s armed forces overseas, had its profile boosted after its fleur-de-lis lacing featured on a red drummers’ military tunic that was worn by Mick Jagger in the 1960s, and more recently modelled by Kate Moss in British Vogue.
Wyedean’s venture into the fashion sector reflects the growing importance of the industry to the UK economy, with fashion part of the very fabric of UK business.
A 2014 report by Oxford Economics for the British Fashion Council said the direct value of the fashion sector to the British economy was £26bn, making it the UK’s largest creative industry, supporting an estimated 800,000 jobs and with the combined value of British textiles and apparel exports being £7.3bn.
With September seeing London Fashion Week, Oxford Economics also estimates that sales of UK designer clothing have risen by around 20% a year in the past decade, and are currently worth between £2.5bn and £2.9bn.
Founded in 1964 by David Wright and now involving the fourth generation of the Wright family, Haworth -based Wyedean exports to 60 countries and supplies uniforms and accessories to the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, United Nations, the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade.
But the business also supplies the entertainment world with products worn in productions including Saving Private Ryan, 007: Die Another Day, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Master and Commander, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and The Man in the Iron Mask.
Managing director Robin Wright, the son of founder David, said: "In the past, Wyedean was primarily a manufacturer, but these days while some manufacturing remains in-house, we are more focused on managing our suppliers. This ability to be flexible, nimble and to embrace change allows us to expand our product range to appeal to sectors such as fashion and remains one of our greatest strengths."
The firm’s trade overseas has been supported by UK Export Finance, the UK’s export credit agency and a part of the Department for International Trade (DIT), via the provision of working capital to fulfil a contract to supply textile badges for UN peacekeepers’ uniforms.
Mark Robson, Department for International Trade regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "Wyedean Weaving has traditionally clothed Britain’s soldiers, sailors and airmen and uniformed services abroad but is using its fleet-footed ability to broaden the appeal of a niche and specialist offering to a wide range of sectors including fashion.
"With exports to 60 countries already established, we look forward to providing further tailored assistance and support to help Wyedean with its plans to further expand its presence abroad."
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