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Lavenham – Quality Quilting

With it’s roots stemming from all things equestrian, Lavenham rose to fame after revolutionising the process of quilting and producing the first nylon quilted horse blanket. Naturally, it wasn’t long before the brand took to clothing and accessories, offering everything from jackets to knitwear, bags and iPad cases.

While Lavenham’s market today may be significantly different from it’s humble beginnings, 80% of it’s trade is to Japanese consumers, British manufacturing remains and integral part of it’s DNA. Each jacket is produced in Lavenham’s Suffolk based factory, by a dedicated staff who’s passion for the brand is unfaltering.

The birth of a Lavenham jacket is a long and intricate one. Starting life as mere rolls of fabric, the jacket passes through more than 20 stages on it’s journey from start to finish. Starting in the quilting department, Lavenham can quilt almost anything, from their trademark nylon to thicker wools and denim. Each temperamental machine’s forty threads are threaded by hand, a process that can take anything up to an hour or more. Quilting, it appears, is a very precise process in which everything has to be just right, from needle to thread, tension and quilt size. After being quilted, each pattern piece is cut using CAD software. Tied and ready for assemble the pieces move to the sewing floor, where we met Wendy.

Having worked at Lavenham since she left school at 15, with only a few breaks in-between, Wendy is, in her own words, a ‘true Suffolk girl’ who manages the sewing floor and a team of dedicated women and men. Having arrived as just a bundle of pieces, the jacket moves through over 10 stages on it’s way to a finished product. From Elaine, who overlocks the pockets; to Polly who sews them; Jo, who overlooks the pieces together; Irene, who adds the finished touches; Anna the label; val the poppers and hannah the swing ticket; each person takes the greatest care in their work, each link in the chain as strong as the next.

In an age where Britain is far more an importer than an exporter, Lavenham is breaking the mould – reversing it even. Between collaborating with major fashion brands, supplying their growing markets and producing up to 2,500 jackets a week, Lavenham still finds time to honour it’s values. More a community than a workplace, this is one company that deserves it’s Queen’s awards.


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