Younger shoppers still want newness to follow trends but their income is not huge...

John Miln
- John Miln , CEO , UK Fashion & Textile Association

With Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Cindrella Thawani, John Miln mentions that blend of creativity and commerciality is another significant feature to prosper in this industry. 


UK Fashion & Textile Association is the most inclusive British network for fashion and textile companies. It is the voice and meeting place for suppliers of fashion and textiles.

John Miln serves as the CEO and Company Secretary of UKFT. He is chairman and non executive director of various industry trade bodies and has been deputy chairman and treasurer of the UK Fashion & Textiles Association.

How do you foresee job opportunities in UK's fashion and textile industry?
I think there are still some great opportunities across the sector, particularly in manufacturing with many schemes set up for training and apprenticeships. Made or designed in the UK is still a hugely sought after commodity particularly in emerging markets, so there are still fantastic opportunities to be had especially when it comes to export.
London Fashion Week (LFW) has left its footprints in the fashion industry of UK. Consequently, what kind of latest style and trends you think will lead the fashion world? Please interpret.
Made in the UK has definitely become a trend of sorts. With the Olympics and Jubilee this year this label has never been more popular or more in demand. Great British Heritage brands, which have been popular at LFW are also increasingly in demand.

I think that fashion is going to go the way of the food industry where people pay a little more for organic and knowing where the food comes from; the consumer wants to know in more detail that their clothes are of the highest quality and ethically made and sourced. 
UK's fashion industry is sharing a significant contribution to its economy. What more should be done to steer this sphere?
We need to celebrate every part of the industry - from raw materials through to the finished garment. We need to promote all types of careers in the industry from design to weavers, technical textiles, pattern cutting and so on.

There are so many great success stories in the fashion and textile industry that go unheralded and we plan to do more to shout about them to government, the press and those wanting to make fashion their career.

If we can still produce graduates and trainees who have a good breadth of skills across the sector and look after and encourage them then we can continue to produce products that are revered worldwide.
How do you perceive ethical fashion goes with the fashion industry of UK in terms of environment?
They sit very well together. I think it is an important thing for the industry to be promoting in a bigger way. Fairtrade coffee and cotton are well known examples that have worked and been taken on board by the consumer. Initiatives such as reduction of landfill will soon be at the forefront as will more recognisable systems for recycling.
How do you see organic and Eco fashion within the industry?
Organic and eco fashion have awareness but limited traction in some areas. As the larger retailers get more behind this message will get through and change attitudes of the consumers who will be happier to spend a little more as they now do for free range eggs and chickens for garments that have a smaller footprint and are an excellent quality.
How is retail market faring in UK and what are the opportunities for retailers and new entrants?
The retail market is a very mixed bag and international entrants have had mixed successes here. The UK consumer is probably one of the most demanding and discerning in the world. Finding a USP can often be tricky in such a highly competitive market but major brands see the UK, particularly London as a great opportunity.
UK has many prominent colleges for fashion and textile; hence this creates a feisty scenario. What message would you like to give to the young aspiring creative minds?
I think it is a tough time to break into any industry at the moment but if you come into the industry with an open mind, creativity and the will to work hard make the most of every opportunity then you are off to a good start.

Another important element to thrive in this industry is to be able to mix creativity with commerciality as well as a really keen understanding of fibre, fabric and apparel production. Most of all strive to innovate, find a way to stand out and choose the best materials you possibly can to work with. 
How do you see the purchasing confidence of consumers as well as how much they are keen to spend on their lifestyle?
I think there are some distinct differences for different consumer groups. Younger shoppers still want newness and to follow trends but their income is not huge - particularly graduates struggling to find work. More affluent shoppers are looking for quality over price and want key investment pieces.

The older shopper is a very big market, which is getting bigger and this consumer has the largest disposable income and demands the best. This generation is also getting to grips with technology such as the i-Pad to use for researching and purchasing their fashion. 
Can you please brief us about UKFT's convention with Paul Smith? What would be the crux story in context to this gathering?
UKFT organises CEO breakfasts each year with different keynote speakers. We are delighted that Sir Paul Smith is speaking this month about his experiences in the industry. He is a fantastically engaging speaker and a shining example of a British fashion business that is sought after worldwide. These breakfasts are also a great informal way to network with industry peers.