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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Mighty Blighty

By Anna Kennett | 19, Apr, 2012

The Alpkit team are not the most prolific telly addicts, but we’ve definitely been inspired by watching the Channel 4 show Maryʼs Bottom Line over the last few weeks. For those of you who didn’t catch the series it followed high street guru Mary Portas on her quest to revive a Northern town suffering from the decline of a once buoyant textile industry. Mary takes a group of local young people struggling to find work and gives them training from former textile workers. Together they set about producing ‘Kinky Knickers’; good quality frilly knickers made in the UK, using UK-sourced materials and sold on the British high street. Huzzah!

Having recently opened our AlpFactory we were pleased to watch Mary and her team doing their bit to raise the profile of British manufacturing! We found it interesting to see them facing some of the same challenges that we have in the last few months such as sourcing UK-made materials. One thing that really struck us was how dingy, dark and outdated the factory workrooms seemed - since when do factories have to look like their Victorian ancestors? It made us really appreciate our AlpFactoryʼs slick red paintwork, bright lights and decent tunes and we’re working hard to give AlpFactory v.2 the same bright, open and inspiring feel. The series certainly got us thinking about what could be possible with our little factory.

Whilst manufacturing is unlikely to return to the UK in the same capacity as in years gone by, it is encouraging to see that UK industry is enjoying a bit of a revival. The show clearly demonstrates how much damage the decline of the textile industry did and still does to individuals, families and whole communities. We watched Mary’s factory apprentices take the proverbial emotional roller coaster to develop skills, confidence and self esteem. Our favourite part of the series was seeing Mary walk down a large line of people explaining what part they had in the making of the knickers, from the lace manufacturers to the shop assistants, the packaging designers to the apprentices doing the sewing. She finishes by proudly telling us that these are just some of the people involved in the production of Kinky Knickers.

We’ll definitely be sewing our ‘Made in England’ labels into our products with great pride and we wish Mary and team great success with their project!

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