Not British made anymore!

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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A jacket thread got me thinking about obsession with stuff made within your country. Air miles of stuff is definitely better to reduce but there's very little made in the UK in volume.

I've read people talking about brand K as being British made and that made their minds up to buy that brand. They've read three company website about being based in Scotland or Sheffield or Newcastle and being British led brand. But what does that mean? Unfortunately not British made. At most it's British designed or British owned brand but not made here.

When I point that out I feel bad. I'm bursting bubbles or dispelling myths. One is bad the other potentially good but I still take no pleasure because I want to see British made in a mass market outdoor brand.
 

Paul_B

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Jul 14, 2008
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So this leads me to thinking a thread to check if a brand really is British made might be of interest. Or if part of their range is but most isn't then which product is.

I'm interested because like most here I'd like to support local when I can.

To start I read someone saying keela jackets are British made. I know their website doesn't clarify where they're made. A now shutdown keela main retailer with a wide range of keela stock once told me where in the world they make things. There's a few countries I believe depending on what it is. Not one item was UK made back then.

Alternatively, terra nova do make a select product take in Sheffield but most overseas.

Alpkit make overseas but also UK for certain items. They're quite open about what is made where.

A very telling way to check is as simple as checking their website. If they promote strongly as British made they will be. If not they're not British made. Very important the "made" word. Without it it's not. It is a strong marketing point in the UK to be UK made so it'll be a point heavily emphasised on their website. UK or British led has no meaning and should be ignored.
 

Laurentius

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Aug 13, 2009
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Do you know what, it would appear that your favourite multitool manufacturers Leatherman and Victorinox have never seen Sheffield.
 
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Janne

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Barbour is British. ( ?)
I know of two British manufacturers of the famous Irvin flying jacket. (Yes, they are excellent in the forest! Wintertime!)
One sources the sheep pelts in Wales I believe?

I do not know the exact (legal) definition of 'Made in Britain' or 'British Made', but if it is in line with many European countries, it is connected to the actual value of the product, including packaging.
I know of one specific Swiss watch maker ( have solid insider info) where most of the mechanical movement parts are made in China, others in Czech Republic, the S/s case in Germany, the Gold cases in France.
Assembly in Switzerland. The value of the assembly satisfies the Swiss requirements for 'Made in Switzerland".

So, to go back to clothing, the fabric can be made in S.E. Asia, cut in Turkey and sewn together in UK.
And sold as Made in Britain/UK/England.

Extremely difficult to know the truth!
 

Paul_B

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The difference is most are also sewn overseas.

Good shout about Barbour. Premium British brand with all production made by a workforce of 149 in south shields I believe. I didn't expect that.

Aren't weatherman an American brand made outside America and victorinix (and their other brand Wenger) is made in ibach in Switzerland. They're very proud of never having let anyone go even in recessions. Sounds a good company. Either way I like victorinix but not leatherman, never had any doubt they weren't foreign made.

There's no British weaver of outdoors fabrics. I even understand ventile has been taken overseas with the original factory shooting down in Britain years ago. Italian company took it over I thought but no idea if made in Italy these days. I can believe it is because Italy has a lot of almost cottage industry.
 

Toddy

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Snufkin

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Nice that Snugpak clearly show which products are UK made.
Ventile is now owned by a Swiss company. No idea where the fabric is made.
Hilltrek are made in Scotland, and the Bison Bushcraft stuff is UK made, although neither company could be considered large.
 
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Janne

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There's no British weaver of outdoors fabrics. I even understand ventile has been taken overseas with the original factory shooting down in Britain years ago. Italian company took it over I thought but no idea if made in Italy these days. I can believe it is because Italy has a lot of almost cottage industry.
If you count Tweed as outdoor fabric- made in UK.

It is incredibly sad that Britain has lost so much fabric manufacturing.
It made Britain a place on the map!
 

Toddy

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It happened right across Western Europe. The Irish linen industry is another huge loss. Even the machinery for making linen thread was sold off and exported to India.

Cheap labour, and much lower manufacturing overheads, even taking into account transport and taxes.

It's happening to Eastern Europe too now, their traditional textile manufacturing is hitting against the prices of the far east and the indian subcontinent, and Africa is really upping it's game too.
People are adaptable, and they learn quickly and become very skilled.
 

Keith_Beef

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I do not know the exact (legal) definition of 'Made in Britain' or 'British Made', but if it is in line with many European countries, it is connected to the actual value of the product, including packaging.
In EU law (and so in English law, until further notice), the country of origin is that where the "last substantive change" occurred. But there is no EU-wide requirement to indicate country of origin on non-food items. When I look at an item, if it is not marked with its country of origin, I assume it is mainland China.

This document should give more complete information.

I know of one specific Swiss watch maker ( have solid insider info) where most of the mechanical movement parts are made in China, others in Czech Republic, the S/s case in Germany, the Gold cases in France.
Assembly in Switzerland. The value of the assembly satisfies the Swiss requirements for 'Made in Switzerland".

So, to go back to clothing, the fabric can be made in S.E. Asia, cut in Turkey and sewn together in UK.
And sold as Made in Britain/UK/England.

Extremely difficult to know the truth!
Yes, dividing up bits of production between countries is very, very common. A widely cited example when I was at Uni was the manufacture of shoes. Raising cattle is capital intensive, but not labour intensive, so was located in the US. Tanning and preparing the hides was more labour intensive, so was located in Mexico. Cutting out and stitching was very labour intensive, so was located in Colombia. The countries will have changed, but the principal is the same.

Industry wants its capital investment to be protected against arbitrary seizure by the state and against destruction during civil unrest, so will locate it in politically stable countries.

It wants its labour to be pliable and cheap, so will locate labour-intensive operations in countries that offer those characteristics.

For the past thirty years, and for the next ten or so, China's authoritarian regime has provided all that for low-tech manufacturing.
 
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Corso

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Do you know what, it would appear that your favourite multitool manufacturers Leatherman and Victorinox have never seen Sheffield.
I don't think it is what Paul is geting at - Theres no issue with something being made over seas, just that the origin can be deliberatly cloudy - if the Victorinox's parts were made in China and assembled in Switzerland wouldn't that put you off?

I like many products but I favour those with a clear history the company is standing by their process rather than hiding it behind a brand
 
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Janne

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I will make a detour from Made in Britain, but the same principle applies.

Fjällräven is a Swedish brand. The founder developed the various products together with his friends to be extremely functional in the most extreme of the Swedish climate. Every aspect and part was of the highest possible quality. You knew when you bought a Fjällräven product, you bought the best. You knew the tent would not fail in a snow storm in the mountains. You knew every single item would last for many years. Yes, expensive. Of course!

Today, Fjällräven is still a Swedish brand. Still expensive, ‘because it is Swedish’.

But, made in the Far East. The ( life preserving) quality not there to the same level as before. Turning to a fashion brand?

It is the same scenario with British brands, they start cutting corners in the product development and quality.
The market is flooded with cheap Asian products, with nice look and fancy names.
But, they are adopting to the consumer. The consumer today prefers to buy cheap (low quality) than expensive ( high quality).
Buy cheaply, use a short time, dispose and buy new.

This Forum is full of threads about low cost/cheap equipment.
Very few threads about high quality, domestic made items.

We are all guilty.
We are all guilty of contributing to the demise of domestic production.

British made stuff was developed to suit the British climate and style of use. A lot of experience and development has gone into those items. Soon lost, forever.
 
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Janne

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What I find the worst is that we have become so used to heavily substandard quality that we see it as normal quality.


It will not threaten your life if that Vietnamese shoe you bought gets a worn through sole in less than two years or the badly tanned leather starts cracking after one year, but if it does while you are hiking somewhere nice and remote it can.

One year before a nice hike I bought a pair of CAT low hiking boots. Broke them in, waxed and stored. On the day of flying to do the hiking holiday, I took them on just before we departed for the airport. Stepping out from the taxi, one sole fell off.
Would this have happened one week later I would have been in deep poo.
 
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Laurentius

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What I find the worst is that we have become so used to heavily substandard quality that we see it as normal quality.


It will not threaten your life if that Vietnamese shoe you bought gets a worn through sole in less than two years or the badly tanned leather starts cracking after one year, but if it does while you are hiking somewhere nice and remote it can.

One year before a nice hike I bought a pair of CAT low hiking boots. Broke them in, waxed and stored. On the day of flying to do the hiking holiday, I took them on just before we departed for the airport. Stepping out from the taxi, one sole fell off.
Would this have happened one week later I would have been in deep poo.
Yes that is the problem when you have to rely on something. I have bought any number of pairs of trainers or sandals and if they last a year I am lucky. If you have the ability to field repair them you are ok, I recommend gorilla tape and cable ties in an emergency, cardboard and a sharp knife :)
 

Paul_B

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My bugbear is scarpa. Got my first pair which lasted 8 years or so. Second pair 2 years, third pair only just beat the guarantee period of a year. First failed with cracked leather, probably user error through mistakes like drying on radiators before I knew better or lack of proofing. Second cracked both soles on the one walk. I hadn't noticed the sole was getting thin.

Third cracked at the sole but also showed signs that it was also falling apart.

Scarpa was a good brand and still Italian made I think. I'll not buy them again.

Btw all three scarpa boots were the SLs. However the third pair never really fitted me right I think the last had to have been changed.

Point of mentioning scarpa was to point out old companies still producing in the country if origin doesn't guarantee anything. You get poor quality everywhere. Cost, location of manufacture or even brand reputation is no guarantee. Plus most larger brands factor in a percentage of returns into the price you pay.

One classic tale of woe is karimor. My mate still gets his 30 year old gold guarantee karrimor rucksack repaired, cleaned and returned every few years without cost other than initial postage costs. He really wants to buy a new sack but can't justify it until the old sack dies. It just never does. I'd like that problem personally.
 

Janne

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The Consumer demands cheap goods, does not worry about the quality and where they are made, under which circumstances.

As the environmental thinking is start to get out amongst the p3ople, this might eventually end?
 

Jared

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There's no British weaver of outdoors fabrics. I even understand ventile has been taken overseas with the original factory shooting down in Britain years ago. Italian company took it over I thought but no idea if made in Italy these days. I can believe it is because Italy has a lot of almost cottage industry.
Only maker left is Stotz, Switzerland. https://stotzfabrics.ch/en/outdoorfabrics/
 
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Jared

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Victorinox's corkscrews are made in Japan IIRC. Only other thing they don't make is metal files, think that's Grobet though they moved production from Switzerland to Italy.
 
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GuestD

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I keep hearing this "the consumer demands cheap goods" but do they ? Is it not more a race to the bottom by manufacture's in order to keep their market share, by ensnaring the gullible ? The old saying is still very relevant in today's world.
"buy cheap, buy twice"
 
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Billy-o

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I bought a Hardy fly rod the other day ... not a terribly expensive one ... no idea where it was actually made, but the Hardy brand (like others) has been bought and sold ... owned by US companies since 2013. My feeling is that there is still ye olde worlde family-looking business and then there is the commoner stuff which might be made elsewhere. Authenticity costs. With most things you can just soak in wax :lol: