Enabling brands to bring the of their garments home to the UK has proven the perfect fit for a fast-growing clothing manufacturer.
Studio 54 Jesmond has unveiled plans to double its output and create three new jobs, following a period of significant growth.
Founded by fashion entrepreneur Amy Fettis, the Jesmond-based firm samples and manufactures athleisure clothing and accessories for brands across the UK and international clients.
Fusing activewear and loungewear, the athleisure market grew 84% during the first year of the pandemic, however mass supply chain disruption brought about by travel restrictions led to a dearth of produce for brands across the UK.
This led the forward-thinking entrepreneur, who had previously run her own athleisure clothing brand, to launch her own dedicated manufacturing business in 2020, bringing the production of goods onshore to the UK.
“Traditionally, the vast majority of athleisure products have been produced overseas and the pandemic really highlighted the dangers of this,” she said.
“As supply chains the world-over had their fragilities exposed by travel restrictions, companies who had safeguarded their supply by embracing sustainability and locally sourcing their products saw their efforts really bear fruit.
“It also led to more businesses embracing the idea of onshoring, which is where we have really benefited. Since restrictions were lifted, we’ve continued to see our business grow significantly and the rising demand for our products is showing no signs of slowing down.”
Based in a converted townhouse in the centre of Jesmond, Studio 54 offers bespoke sampling, development and small batch clothing production, which has made it a supplier of choice for independent and start-up fashion houses across the UK.
And having recently been backed by a venture capital fund and the £10.9 million Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project at the University of Sunderland, the company has unveiled ambitious plans for the future.
“Entering into a joint venture with our VC partner, as well as the grant funding and support from SAM, has really allowed us to focus on growing the business,” she added.
“Over the coming months, the grant from SAM will see us invest in a suite of new industrial sewing machines and the VC support will see us create three new jobs as we continue to scale the business.
“We also plan to establish an off-site production facility next year too. Some clients are coming back with repeat orders and we don’t see this slowing down, so this will allow us to create bigger runs, which in turn will enable us to work with bigger brands.”
As well as helping Studio 54 Jesmond purchase new machinery, the support from SAM has also helped the company improve the quality of its products and identify other areas of the business that could be improved.
Amy said: “The SAM Project has helped us identify areas of our business that could be improved from the outset and improve our detailing. They have also introduced us to people in the industry and have kept us in mind when opportunities have arisen that could benefit us.
“They’re one of the only organisations that I know that are manufacturing focused and I think there’s a huge gap in the UK for organisations like this. So much offshoring has happened in the last 20 years and to have that dedicated support for manufacturers like us – who want to really champion UK manufacturing – is so valuable.”
The Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project is a £10.9m collaboration between the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the University of Sunderland and the Northern Powerhouse Initiative and Industry, supporting SME manufacturers in the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership (NE LEP) area to improve their products or processes and introduce new technology.
Roger O’Brien, Project & Technical Lead at the SAM Project, “It’s been great working with Amy and the team at Studio 54 Jesmond to improve their means of production and make the business more sustainable.
“With a recession on the horizon and a seemingly ever-worsening climate crisis, it’s never been so important for businesses to ‘buy British’ and Studio 54 Jesmond is a fantastic example of how onshoring can help create jobs and bolster the economy.
“It’s been a pleasure working with them and we look forward to continue supporting them as they plan for the future.”