How big is Scotland's fashion and textile industry?

AS THE home of Harris Tweed and Barrie Knitwear, Scotland is well-known for producing high-quality textiles and clothing. But what benefits does the industry bring to the country?

Scottish fashion designer Christopher Kane. Picture: Jane Barlow

Fashion is a profitable enterprise in Scotland. Around 8,400 people are employed in 355 businesses in the sector across the country.

Among them are 176 staff at the Barrie Knitwear factory in the Borders, which was bought by Chanel to prevent its closure, 350 skilled craftspeople responsible for producing the world-famous Harris Tweed, and 49 employees at MYB Textiles - one of the few remaining textile factories in Ayrshire.

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Jobs in the industry range from pattern cutting, merchandising, buying and marketing. Those involved are responsible for maintaining the production of quality garments and designs.

KellyDawn Riot. Picture: Dominic Martin

Numerous individual Scots have also achieved global recognition in the fashion world. North Lanarkshire-born Christopher Kane has produced collections for Topshop and relaunched the Versace label Versus, while Jonathan Saunders’ work was showcased at London and New York fashion weeks and worn by the likes of Michelle Obama.

This breadth of talent is helped by numerous fashion and textile degrees on offer north of the border, such as the one offered by Heriot Watt University.

Bruce Roberts, who teaches fashion technology at the university, said: “Our students go on to work in many areas such as garment technicians, buyers and costume design. There’s a diverse range of opportunities for graduates in Scotland.”

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Isolated Heroes at Scot Re:Designed showcase. Picture: Dominic Martin

Over £756 million is generated each year by Scotland’s fashion and textiles every year, with exports going to more than 150 countries worldwide. Client lists include Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and YSL.

Traditional textiles including tartan, cashmere, tweed and knitwear are all popular exports. Harris Tweed in particular has survived near-extinction to become a coveted addition to the boutiques of Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood. Production has more than tripled from 450,000 metres produced in 2009 to 1.5 million in 2015.

There are many people working to support those involved in the industry including Scotland Re:Designed which provides a platform for Scotland’s fashion designers and textile companies to showcase their work to the industry. Since being established in 2012 by Chris Hunt, they have taken Scottish designers to the likes of New York to showcase their work and are looking to take five innovative designers to Hong Kong later this year.

A new programme called Fashion Foundry which works with Cultural Enterprise Office, has also been launched to accelerate four promising Scottish designers, giving them the opportunity to maximise their creative and business potential.

KellyDawn Riot. Picture: Dominic Martin

In 2014 and 2015 CEO commissioned further sector research and evaluations, which identified fashion design as a major new business community with vast potential for growth within the creative economy, in addition to the textiles and manufacturing industry, leading to a set of results identifying a need for a national centre for fashion business.

Events showcasing talent are constantly taking place throughout the country including Edinburgh Fashion Week, which is now in its second year. The event highlights the city’s dynamic fashion offerings and is supported by various local businesses.

Last year was hailed as a success with footfall targets double than that expected, 10,000 attendees to the fashion hub and more than 40 city centre businesses involved.

Reaching maximum capacity over the launch weekend and doubling expected footfall targets, 10,000 people attended the lively fashion hub on The Mound, with reserved and VIP tickets selling out within three days,

Isolated Heroes at Scot Re:Designed showcase. Picture: Dominic Martin