There’s something undeniably charming about having your clothes made in east London. Once the hub of the capital’s dressmaking industry, the area has seen a huge reduction in the amount of workshops but there is still a small element committed to the cause. One in particular is Indigo Trading Ltd. Headed up by Sadiq Miah in an unassuming retail park not far from Bow; this is the company responsible for crafting some of Finery’s most coveted items. We caught up with Sadiq over a cup of tea to discuss Finery, fashion college and why there’s a huge gap in British manufacturing.
It’s early Wednesday afternoon and Sadiq Miah is talking leather. An unlikely topic for some people, it’s anything but for Sadiq. The owner of Indigo Trading Ltd – a small leather factory a stone’s throw from London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – Sadiq has been in the industry all of his professional life. “I’ve been here from an apprentice,” he explains. “It’s gone from a family business to myself.”
Now the owner, Sadiq’s practical skills coupled with his training (he studied pattern cutting and garment technology at the London College of Fashion) have made him a favourite with brands from Reiss to Christopher Raeburn, not to mention Finery. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s no point doing it,” he stresses.
That is surely an allegation that could never be leveled at Sadiq. A dab hand at handling various skins, he is the man responsible for creating the majority of Finery’s leather clothing, including the much in demand snake print Sloane coat. “I started working with Finery from the beginning. Caren [Downie, one of the brand’s founders] came round with some designs and we realised there’s a small market for leather garments.”
Since that original meeting, Sadiq’s team have been handmaking each piece they produce for Finery. “Everything that’s Finery is handmade,” confirms Sadiq. Using a traditional paper template as guidance, panels are hand-cut and then stitched together with specialist tools and equipment. In fact, everything is so specialist that each type of leather has its own accompanying kit, from needles to sewing machines.
While these skills are second nature to Sadiq and his team, the decrease in the amount of factories operating in the UK means they’re becoming rarer and rarer. “I’m all for Made in United Kingdom but [as a country] we’re not. It’s really sad because we’re losing all the technology behind it and the technique which is very hard to replace.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though. As customers become more aware of where their clothes are made, they also seem to increasingly look for items crafted in the UK, with handmade being an extra bonus. And brands are clearly taking note: a third of Finery’s garments are made in the UK. “I’m proud to be working with Finery because they’re trying to do as much as possible in the UK.”
Sadiq is also doing his bit to support the growth. “We’ve started [running apprenticeships] and there’s a girl here at the moment who’s learning. I’ve got her to a point where she’s doing patterns. Until you physically touch a pattern you don’t know which piece is which.” Not that Sadiq needs to worry about that lack of understanding though as Indigo Trading Ltd doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.