In the Neighborhood
This week’s Monocle features a story on a London store called Albam that has made its name by promoting local production—meaning within the UK, or failing that, within western Europe—in favor of the higher profit margins but questionable labor conditions of East Asian factories. It’s a common enough tale, but we couldn’t resist a little peek at how things work across the pond.
The move towards smaller designers (i.e. cooler) increasingly means a move towards more local production (i.e. greener), but it plays out a little differently in Britain. Europe weathered the same mass manufacturing exodus that the U.S. did in the late 80s and early 90s, but they haven’t had the same American Apparel-style backlash quite yet. Also, the high-profile U.S. firms moving shop were mostly jeans outfits and other mass-market goods. In the UK, it’s Savile Row. Italy had her moment—a moment she’s recently trying to recapture—by playing up their regionalism, even as they slipped designs out the back door to be sewn up in China. Now, Monocle suggests, that’s not good enough. If England is going to keep up appearances, they’ll have to rely on the virtues of regional stitching.
Although from the sound of this Monocle back-pager, it can’t happen too soon.
- — Russell Brandom