Blackburn is a Cotton Town

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Fantastic feature on Community Clothing in the November edition of Creative Review, including some nice words about us and the Townscape Heritage Project.


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As well as some great background on Community Clothing and Patrick Grants vision for a new social model for British clothing manufacturing, the piece also mentions the shop on Lord Street West:

…..the first Community Clothing store has just opened in an old cotton storage warehouse, refitted at a cost of just £6,000.

“That whole part of town has just been allocated a Heritage Lottery grant [and] the regeneration team at Blackburn Council are very forward-thinking,” says Grant.

“They have a brilliant attitude towards getting things moving and we have a very favourable deal from them.”

To build the shop, local people donated their time and materials, while an agency called Bootstrap, who help the long-term unemployed back into work, is helping to staff the store two days a week. This is where the ‘community’ aspect of Grant’s new venture really comes into its own. While it has international reach through the web, its success will be evident at a local level. Factories that were once a part of a thriving textiles industry can, he hopes, start to define those places once again.

“Many [of them] are in towns where that industry was so central, not just to people’s livelihoods [but] for the whole identity of the community,” says Grant.

“Hawick is a knitwear town; Blackburn is a cotton town; Leicester is a hosiery town. The history of families and whole communities are woven into the story of these businesses.”

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The feature also reveal’s some interesting history behind the CC brand.

The double ‘C’ of its logo was originally used in the labelling of the British government’s CC41 brand, the range of utility wear produced during the Second World War to combat the shortage of affordable cloth. The clothes – and there are distinct parallels here – minimised fabric use (trousers were made without turn-ups, jackets without pocket flaps) and were launched as a quality product that was within the reach of all. While Grant had registered the Community Clothing name a few years ago, he then began to think of what might work as an identity – the two Cs of CC41 seemed ideal. The original logo, two Pac Men-like solid ‘C’ shapes and a ‘41 for 1941, was designed by commercial artist Reginald Shipp – Grant checked it out and its trademark had long since lapsed. He promptly registered it. “People make reference to it, that it was obviously born out of a very clear social need – and we hope, if we are successful, we can provide some form of social benefit from doing this.”

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The new version of the CC logo was designed by Blackburn studio, Source Creative (sourcecreative.co.uk), and letterpress artist Jacqui Sharples (Print for Love of Wood, printforloveofwood.com).

Read the whole feature here

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