A brand new fashion label has launched its first collection featuring t-shirts and hoodies made with English Fine Cottons yarns.
Sheffield-based Forge Denim has shown a huge commitment to UK manufacturing, with its debut range of high quality menswear.
As well as using English Fine Cottons Supima ‘Star’ quality yarns, the label’s founders, Richard Mappin and Alex Mir, have gone to great lengths to ensure as much of their collection as possible is British made – even down to the burlap thread used to attach their labels.
“When we heard about English Fine Cottons, we’d already been looking at other yarns and fabrics for our t-shirts but we had to get it in the collection. It’s exactly what we’re about.
“We didn’t want to be a brand that sews in a ‘British-made’ label on something that was mostly made abroad. There are some things that you can’t do here, but every step of the way, we looked for it here first.”
Forge denim used English Fine Cottons yarns to create plain t-shirts in black, white, khaki and grey marl, and a range of printed t-shirts and hoodies in navy and black. The tops were all knitted in Leicester and dyed and manufactured in Leicester and the stainless steel aglets at the end of the laces on the hoodies were made in Sheffield.
But the label’s showcase garment is its high quality jeans, and although Alex and Richard weren’t able to find the selvedge denim they were looking for in this country, they’ve added a catalogue of special finishing touches crafted here in the UK.
It’s all in the detail
The bespoke steel buttons were made by Coltech in Sheffield and the leather tab on the back was hand-made in London.
A soft lining has been inserted into the back pockets, made from an organic herringbone tweed that was woven by John Spencer Ltd. The weavers in Burnley also made the fabric for the bag the jeans are packaged in.
Labels were crafted and stamped in Sheffield and Alex and Richard even sourced the thread to attach them, locally.
Alex said: “We wanted to pay attention to every detail. If anybody asked, we wanted to be able to say where every single thing came from.
“We’d love to be able to have our denim made here but in the end we got it from the iconic Kurabo mills in Japan and the denim we’ve got is among the best in the world.
“It would have been easy to get the buttons made elsewhere at just a few pence each, compared to £2 each for the ones we had made here. But the quality isn’t comparable and our buttons made in Sheffield are part of our story.
“It was the same for a lot of the components of the collection, but to us, quality and ‘British made’ were more important.”
Provenance is paramount
Alex says the work that’s gone into the jeans resulted in a premium price tag, but the jeans still cost the consumer less than some designer brands jeans that are mostly manufactured abroad.
“We haven’t compromised on quality anywhere. These are clothes that are made to last and that’s the result of the quality manufacturing you get here in the UK.”
Richard added: “A lot of our motivation was wanting to know our products were being made ethically. If you make it over here, you can visit the factory or the workshop and see how it’s being made.
“You can see the staff are being treated fairly, the factories are clean – some of them are gleaming!”
Every garment the brand makes is a limited run, so Alex and Richard are already working on ideas for new items and how to put them in motion in the UK.
They’ve recently found someone in Lancashire who can distress some of their next run of jeans by hand.
Alex said: “We’re still learning and we’ll continue to develop the brand, but we’re confident there’s enough people out there who want high quality, British made products like ours.”
It’s early days for Forge Denim – just two weeks since its launch – but the collection will soon be available to buy in Liquor, Draper’s Independent Menswear of the Year 2016 in Birmingham and Gallery, a designer department store in Barnsley.
Currently, the collection is available at www.forgedenim.co.uk