Words by David Keyte, UW. Designer and Co-Founder.
The first factory I ever visited in my career was a knitwear makers in Nottingham, England. Looking back, I was just a kid who knew nothing, but I loved the smell, the touch, and the general feel of the place. In my eyes they made magic; yarns and patterns went in at one end, and the amazing garments came out at the other! I was hooked for life, and it was then that I knew I wanted to work with such magic.
Since the very first collection with Universal Works, we have made knitwear in England. Although we work with and are proud of all the suppliers, makers, and factories we use, it is always nice to have something homegrown as well.
Nottingham has a long history in manufacturing, whether it be lace or indeed knitwear; you only have to pass through the city centre to see evidence of its illustrious past, whether it be an old factory building now operating as something else entirely, or the Nottingham 'Lace Market', an entire area of the city, now populated by thriving restaurants, independent businesses, and our very own Broad Street store. For this season we added a few new pieces to our collection, working with a maker who produces locally sourced British Wool yarn. I hadn't worked with them before with Universal Works, so I visited them recently to check on the product that's online now. When I arrived in their small factory, north of the city, I realised that this was the same site I had visited all those years before during my first ever factory visit. There might have been different people, different yarns, and even different knitting going on now, but the smell, touch, excitement, and indeed the magic was all the same.
For me, Universal Works is always about looking forward and making modern clothing for today and not looking back. But sometimes, it's good to know where you came from too, and of course, make some really cool local knits that we can be proud of and enjoy.