Short Runs

Addressing barriers and introducing new opportunities for short run production

Short run production can allow for local sourcing closer to market needs, but also presents a number of challenges that can be addressed through TCBL.

We can identify three groups:

  • Textile manufacturers willing to produce short run capacity, e.g. during down time, or wish to broaden their offer or have leftover fabric to sell. This might include textile manufacturers which may “over-produce” on purpose with large orders in order to diversify their business positioning, something they are keen to do.
  • Garment manufacturers who range from the at home sewer to the small Cut, Make & Trim (CMT) unit. This could include the larger scale garment manufacturers who need to down-scale because of pressures to reduce numbers and through skills shortages.
  • Designers who want to design and sell small lots, potentially by grouping together to increase buying power.

Firstly, TCBL can create an environment where European based designers and manufacturers can find each other and do business. Mostly, we expect that these businesses won't know of each other's existence and there is an important role for TCBL members here to bring together, create and facilitate business transactions.

Secondly, match making opportunities can be engineered via an online platform created or adapted for this purpose. Such a platform will allow for the development of two options: firstly, CMT manufacturers to bid for jobs posted by designers; secondly, for manufacturers to post any excess stock to sell. Quality standards and kite marks held by manufacturers will be included in an element of quality assurance but the process will be essentially self-moderating and can be achieved using TripAdvisor style feedback. The same model applies for those manufacturers wishing to offload stocks of excess cloth, which could also offer opportunities for designers to aggregate demand.

Who's involved and what's happened so far?

TCBL members from the UK, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Greece and Romania have participated in a number of different projects to date, all of which are ongoing. All projects are intended to be both scalable and replicable elsewhere.

Late 2018 saw the beginning of a project to map the short runs (from one-off bespoke pieces up to 1,000 pieces) manufacturing expertise across Europe. The project involves TCBL partners the TCoE (UK), DITF (Germany) and Sqetch (Netherlands). A future project will develop and pilot a supply-chain for the clothing rental market - My Yorkshire Wardrobe - utilising locally sourced products where possible.

Overall, some of the participants include:


Rita Britton / Nomad Atelier -

Nomad manufactures and sells clothes and accessories for ladies. Rita’s store, The Tobacco Warehouse, has been fully restored as a 21st Century luxury emporium, showcasing the Nomad collection of cashmere, silk, and leather accessories. Sourcing fabric in small quantities is a barrier to production.

Stephanie Hoole

Stephanie is a start-up company of Performance sportswear for ladies to be sold online and as a concession to large stores. She needs to source technical sports fabrics and specialist sportswear manufacturers as well as technical trims and a manufacturer who can make functional bra tops. She would also benefit from support for fits-development stages.


Trafi Creatività Tessile -

Trafi gives the fashion world the opportunity to go beyond the old traditions of the textile industry by offering treatments that allow the creation of innovative textile products. Trafi works with recycled waste and offers dyeing and needle-punching expertise amongst other areas.


TIE&GO aims at combining the long tradition of the silk industry of Como with the needs of the contemporary menswear market that is demanding a quick reaction to trend changes, creativity and reliability of products and service.


Tatjana Kalamar Fashion

Tatjana is a textile design expert with special graphic skills (portraits) and interest to innovate new textile products. She has more than 20 years of experiences in big textile industries and fashion, she has knowledge on textile materials and also works for medium sized Slovenian textile industry producers.

Match-making and e-commerce providers

Netherlands based Sqetch provides a means of putting textiles and clothing brands and manufacturers in touch with each other via The site has a European focus so is ideal for TCBL members.

A one stop digital networking service, Sourcebook (Germany) connects fashion brands with garment manufacturers, service providers and fabric mills through its site at


Thirty-five steps between clothing conception and design and actual sale have been identified and characterised by industry partners. This has been depicted as a boardgame, Snakes and Ladders (pictured above), because it provides a simple but effective depiction of the many stages, including pitfalls and opportunities, that aspiring designers should be aware of when developing their creations for market.

Eight case studies have been produced so far with others in the pipeline.

Further reading

A special issue of the TCBL_zine has been published on Short Runs: click here to read it.

Contact Info

For further information on the Short Runs Business pilot, contact Bill Macbeth.