(last updated July 2019)
What has been happening in the dressmaking sector
The clothing sector has seen changes in recent years as consumer interest in branded fashion labels has increased and designer wear has become available from a wide variety of outlets, such as department stores, independent clothing retailers, mail order catalogues and the internet. At the same time, consumers have been resistant to higher prices and clothing prices as a whole have not kept up with inflation.
However, consumers do appear more willing to pay high prices for made-to-measure outfits for special occasions which are exclusive and which are different from anything that can be bought ready-to-wear. Bear in mind though that the amount of money that people spend on clothing is affected by the state of the economy and the economic uncertainty about the Brexit negotiations may have affected demand for bespoke services. What's more, shoppers are being offered very large discounts by most clothing retailers which may persuade them to buy 'off the peg' rather than bespoke garments.
You will have to decide whether:
- there is sufficient demand in your area to support your proposed dressmaking business
- you will be able to compete against other dressmakers and clothing suppliers
- it would be worth offering an alterations service - demand for this grew during the recent economic downturn and consumers are still looking to save money
Keeping up to date with developments
Joining a trade association is an excellent way of staying up to date with developments in your industry.
The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) represents the clothing industry in the UK. You can contact them at 3, Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AR or find out more on their website.
It is very important that you keep up with fashion trends so that you can offer advice to your customers and create up-to-the-minute designs. You might like to subscribe to consumer fashion magazines such as Vogue or trade journals such as Drapers, published by EMAP Publishing Ltd.
You will be able to obtain a lot of useful information if you go to a fashion show or a trade fair. The Exhibitions website contains details of forthcoming exhibitions. You will be able to see all the latest British designs at the spring and autumn London Fashion Week events, organised by the British Fashion Council.