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Flying the flag: Andrea Hawkes

Over the last few years there has been an increasing interest in the provenance of products with consumers keen to know more about the origins of the items they buy.

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This has been true, in part, in the bridal industry and brides are taking an interest in where their dresses are made. There is still a solid set of designers manufacturing bridal gowns on British soil and they are proud to be waving the flag for UK-made items. We spoke to one of them, Andrea Hawkes, to hear her thoughts on the importance of making it here.

How important do you think it is to retain niche manufacturing skills such as bridal in the UK?

We feel it is very important. The skills used to design and make a fitted dress are skills that have been used in this country for a very long time and have been held in high regard by other nationalities. British manufacturing and tailoring should be something that is celebrated and more importantly retained. 

Andrea Hawkes

What are the challenges facing UK-made labels?

Competition and the availability and cost of skilled and experienced staff. It is an undeniable fact that production costs can be reduced abroad and this is very difficult to compete with this on a larger scale. 

And from a retailer perspective, what would you say the bonuses are of UK production (delivery times for example)?

Quality has to be the most important and most obvious. Communication is another that comes to mind – not just language but ease of communicating and building relationships. 

Do you think brides and/or retailers are particularly looking for UK made products?

Some are, not all. It is certainly something that is more in the minds of people and the bonuses are there to see – not just in bridal but all retail. 

Have you found it difficult to find seamstresses with the appropriate skills?

We have been fortunate with people we have met along the way but I would imagine it is difficult if advertising for someone with appropriate skills and experience. Hopefully if retailers buy British it will encourage new generations to take up these skills. 

Do you think UK bridal manufacturing is sustainable? Do you expect to see further growth from this part of the market over the next five years?

Yes certainly. We intend to focus on our quality and stick to what we are good at – this will always show eventually. Our growth has been good up to now, whether that reflects the market is yet to be seen – but we certainly won’t focus our energy on this and more on the importance of providing quality British made garments that are 100% natural fabrics because we believe this market is certainly growing. 

If you’d like to get in touch with Andrea then you can find her contact details on our Brands Directory.

Read our extended feature on making in the UK in the November/December issue of Bridal Buyer.

The British designer will return to White Gallery London next year with a larger stand in a brand new location. Find out all you need to know about the show, which will be held at Battersea Evolution from 15 to 17 May next year, on the White Gallery website.


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