Northumberland onesie maker to speak at national conference

Onesie manufacturer Kate Dawson heads to London next week for an marking the resurgence of the UK rag trade

Production manager Edith Gibson and director Kate Dawson of The All-in-One Company
Production manager Edith Gibson and director Kate Dawson of The All-in-One Company

A North East pioneer of the onesie fashion phenomenon will join an expert line of speakers at a special event to celebrate the renaissance of UK clothing manufacturing.

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One Company in Ashington, will share her experiences with other like-minded business leaders at the inaugural Meet the Manufacturer conference, which takes place at The Old Truman Brewery in London on Wednesday June 11 and Thursday June 12.

Dawson launched her fashion firm five years ago after she was unable to find onesies for her children on the high street. Now the company is supplying the all-in-one fashion accessory to people all over the world.

She said: “It is going to be very exciting to engage with other clothing manufacturers who, like The All-in-One Company, believe it is time to back British talent.

“I feel really honoured to be invited to speak alongside so many distinguished people and tell them how our business has created a new fashion item – and that does not happen very often.

“Also, how we have been able to continue to produce each one of our customers’ unique designs – even though we are manufacturing on a very large scale – through mass customisation.”

The event has been organised by Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, a major campaign to bang the drum for UK manufacturing.

Having worked as a designer and buyer for more than 20 years, she became increasingly frustrated with the dependence of British retailers on Far Eastern suppliers and believes that a UK manufacturing base is essential for companies to remain competitive.

A stellar list of speakers has been drawn up for the event and includes retail guru Mary Portas, who led a series of pilot projects to rejuvenate run-down UK high streets battered by the recession.

There will also be a series of panel discussions on key issues surrounding the industry.

This celebration of UK fashion and textile manufacturing comes as the sector enjoys a strong renaissance in the North East.

Last month ladies’ fashion maker AMA Group kick-started production at its Peterlee site, signalling a revival of an industry that was once at the heart of the region’s business community.

The local rag had suffered a serious decline in the 1990s as factories closed and firms chose to outsource to cheaper manufacturers overseas. In 1999, 4,000 jobs in the North East textile industry vanished, with Berghaus in Washington, North Tyneside’s Textillion, JPS in Washington, Bairdwear in County Durham and Claremont Garments on Tyneside and in Durham all shedding jobs or closing operations.

But that bleak picture has changed and AMA Group said it had seen an upturn in demand for clothing with a “Made in Britain” label on it.

The company aims to have more than 150 people working at its Peterlee operation by the end of next year.

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