The Return of Cottonopolis
A recent BBC article on English Fine Cottons (a company I’m proud to serve as VP Sales and Business Development) wrote, “Long before Manchester had football, it had cotton.” Cottonopolis, as it was known, once roared with the sound of machines, not just supporters of City and United, and I’m so proud it now roars again.
After a 40-year break cotton is back on the production line in the North West, a production line now serving the biggest Clothing retailer in the UK – Marks & Spencer.
As the only commercial cotton spinner in the UK we’re driven by two things – customer demand for the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp and a desire to reverse the decline in the British textile industry. Our fully restored Victorian cotton mill that was first operated in 1886 is now home to one of the most advanced cotton spinning facilities in the world.
We’re passionate about collaboration – collaboration with M&S and our other customers - but also collaboration with other manufacturers, weavers, knitters, dyers and finishers. We’re re-establishing the supply chain and reinvigorating cotton textiles manufacturing to grow again. This is bigger than any one company.
And unsurprisingly, we’re passionate about cotton as a product. Chapters can (and have) been written on cotton. In fact our website alone has heaps of information from cotton counts, to yarn colours, to provenance and I’d urge people to read more, especially fellow Northerners as it’s part of our heritage.
At English Fine Cottons this obsession with the product means we produce some of finest quality cotton yarns available and who says quality better than M&S, a fellow heritage brand?
M&S’s customers want quality and for the 133-year-old retailer we’re producing quality English Fine Cottons fabric made to measure shirts. Customers enter a few measurements and fit & style preferences; the M&S technology does the rest. 28 days later the customer receives their shirt –I can’t wait for them to land on doorsteps across the UK. The shirts come in three premium cotton weaves – Fine Twill, Calvary Twill and Royal Oxford and three classic colours – pink, white and blue.
Some people will say this is only one product, and yes currently it is only one product (albeit three premium weaves of cotton and three best-selling colours), but we don’t underestimate the role this order plays in reviving Cottonopolis. Collaboration - with big brands and small brands, for big orders and small orders – it all matters. The mill is roaring again! #Cottonopolis #MadeinBritain