I know there's been a lot of buzz about the Mary Portas 'Kinky Knickers' collection and a general feeling in the world of small lingerie businesses that her outlook on manufacturing lingerie in the UK has been somewhat misinformed. This isn't something I initially wanted to blog about mainly because, firstly, as a mere lingerie fanatic and aspiring designer (in the very early days of my lingerie ambition), I don't have an in-depth knowledge and/or experience of the issue. And also because this is something that has already been blogged about. (You can read a very well informed post by Catherine at Kiss Me Deadly here and another one by Ayten Gasson here.)
However, I came across an excerpt of a speech from Mary Portas herself on the Lingerie Insight website and found myself, as a big fan of many of the brands made in the UK, slightly offended by it and considered it worth sharing. Strange that I should be offended by something that has little do with me really but, hey, you love the brands you love.
So this is the first bit that I had a problem with:
"We decided to create a brand called Kinky Knickers. We thought it was kinky because it was mad, it was British and we were doing something very mad and very British, thinking that through the ten of us we could maybe re-invigorate manufacturing in this country and put a sense of pride back into making, creating and selling British."Now, I'm all for supporting British manufacture but making British knickers isn't something that I would call "very mad". I'm not going to go into writing up a list of all the British made lingerie brands I know of (good ones too) to prove a point here because you can already read a great list of them on the Kiss Me Deadly blog listed above. My point is that Mary Portas isn't leading any sort of grand innovation here. She would do better to place her efforts into supporting all the independent lingerie brands, made in the UK, that are already invigorating and backing manufacture in this country rather than claiming that her and her team are single-handedly doing the job.
The final part of this excerpt is what I really felt strongly about:
"I know, and I was talking to Catherine, who has a small lingerie label that she manufactures in the UK, and there was someone else who I spoke to tonight, there are nuggets out there who are doing this, but this I want to be big. I don’t want nuggets. We don’t do things by half. We are British."I'm not sure what was meant by this and I'm sure that what I read from it probably wasn't her intention at all but here's the thing: in these sentences, she has essentially just said in a roundabout way that the small lingerie labels she speaks of are the "nuggets". That they aren't "big" enough. That they are only doing things by half and aren't doing enough for our country's manufacturing industry. Yes the brands are "small" and "independent" but I challenge Mary Portas, and indeed anyone, to take a good look at the sheer number of these beautiful brands as a whole, the amazing work they do, the satisfaction of their customers and the business they create for the small amount of British factories that there are left and say that's not "big" enough.
As an afterthought, I've seen the Kinky Knickers and they are pretty. I just think that Mary Portas should be more aware of the very brands that are already doing what she is attempting to do and understand that these sweeping statements appear offensive and disregarding of their efforts and their success.
Kiss Me Deadly
The Lingerie Insight
Kinky Knickers on the Liberty Website