Is it really made in Britain? The savvy shopper’s guide to British made gifts
In a recent study conducted by Make it British, over 90% of consumers surveyed said that they would be willing to pay more for British made products, compared to similar products made outside the UK. Buying products made in the UK is important to so many of us, especially at Christmas, when it’s nice to give a British made gift with a story behind it.
Here at The British Blanket Company, we’re proud to weave all our wool blankets and scarves in the British Isles. We know first-hand the positive ripple effect when people choose to support local businesses and invest their hard-earned money in British made goods like ours. Sadly though, we also know that buying British is not always as easy as it should be. Unfortunately, some brands go to extraordinary lengths to ‘fake it British’. In this blog post, we’ll help you become a savvy shopper when seeking to buy British and spot clues that indicate products purporting to be made in Britain might not be exactly what they seem.
Why is it good to buy British made products?
There are lots of great reasons to feel good about buying British. Here are a few of the main ones:
Buying British helps the economy. Every purchase of a British product or service supports local industries and helps protect and create jobs in UK.
Buying British is ethical. Buying UK-made items probably means the people who made them were treated more fairly than in factories in developing countries, where safety and employment standards are lower.
Buying British often means superior quality. Although British products often cost more, they usually last much longer and provide better value for money.
Buying British protects the environment. British food and products travel a shorter distance from the farm or manufacturer to the shop, so they have a lower carbon footprint than imported goods.
Buying British is more personal. Consumers have an opportunity to engage more deeply with the people and the stories behind locally-made products.
5 ways to check a product is really made in Britain
It’s a sad fact that buying products that are really made in Britain is harder than it should be. Because brands know that people will pay more for British-made products, some will unscrupulously ‘fake it British’ and infer their goods are locally made when they’re not. Use this checklist to help you judge if products really are made in the UK.
1. Dig deep into the company website. Brands that genuinely make their products in the British Isles will proudly provide lots of written and visual information. Are there photographs or videos of the artisans making the items? Are they specific about the country of manufacture? We hope you’ll agree, The British Blanket Company’s About Us page is a good example.
2. Beware of vague wording such as ‘designed in Britain’ or ‘inspired by the local landscape’. Does the brand actually state which country their items are made in, or gloss over the manufacturing location?
3. For clothing, check the garment label sewn into the seam, not just the collar label and swing tag. Union Jack flags and drawings of UK landmarks are commonly used to infer an item is locally-made, when the inside garment tag shows otherwise. We were shocked by the misleading labels on this tweed jacket and this wool coat.
4. For food and drink, look for the Red Tractor logo which gives assurance that produce comes from British farms that meet high environmental and animal welfare standards. Despite campaigns, there is currently no official logo scheme for other types of goods.
5. Contact the brand and ask them directly. A genuine brand will have nothing to hide and will be delighted to tell you more about the origins of their products. We love it when our customers get in touch and are interested in our family business - we could talk about our wonderful British and Irish weaving mills all day!
One of The British Blanket Company's throws on the loom at our weaving mill on the Yorkshire / Lancashire border, which dates back to the 1860s
Where does The British Blanket Company make its wool blankets and scarves?
All the blankets, scarves and picnic rugs we sell at The British Blanket Company are made in the British Isles. That is, the UK and Ireland. This article explains the difference between Britain, the UK and the British Isles. Our blankets and scarves are woven at one of four traditional woollen mills: three in England and one in Ireland. Additionally, some cloth woven at the English mills travels to Scotland for scouring (washing) and some blankets are cut and labelled in Wales.
Even our fabric labels are made in Wales and our paper mailing bags are made in Scotland!
We don’t make our products from British wool because it’s too coarse and rough for making soft and snuggly blankets and scarves. Instead, we source our raw fleece from South Africa and New Zealand which is finer quality. We talk more about why we don’t use British wool in this blog.
Just to say…
We are strong believers in preserving local craft traditions and investing in products that are authentically rooted in the place they are made. For some products and crafts, ‘made in Britain’ may not be their authentic origin story and we enjoy the diversity that comes with investing in pieces made by skilled craftspeople around the world. The tradition of woven wool blankets is deeply embedded in the heritage of Britain and Ireland and that’s why The British Blanket Company chooses to sell the items that we do. It’s not about politics for us.
Can we ask a small favour before you go? We recently commissioned a beautiful film taking you inside two of our UK weaving mills, telling the story of our family business, the wonder of wool and Britain’s weaving heritage. It would mean a lot to us if you could head to Youtube now and like the video by giving it a ‘thumbs up’ – this small action really helps The British Blanket Company reach new people and build our family business. Thank you!