Mary's Bottom Line
From the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Britain used to be a manufacturing colossus and renowned for its world-class clothing industry. But today, most fashion is made cheaply abroad and 25% of clothing is imported from China alone. So when and why did we stop buying British?
In Mary's Bottom Line (w/t), Mary Portas is on a crusade to launch a campaign to reignite the UK clothing industry by starting her own production line to manufacture a key staple in any woman's wardrobe - 100% British knickers.
The common economic wisdom is that Britain simply cannot compete with the Far East when it comes to producing cheap clothing. But Mary believes that if the UK started making clothes again, consumers would be prepared to pay a little extra, safe in the knowledge that the clothes are produced ethically and that they are helping to create jobs and boost the British manufacturing industry.
So for this brand new series, Mary heads to Middleton near Manchester, where past generations used to thrive on a booming manufacturing industry, but these days the factories are closed and unemployment is rife. Mary will recruit eight apprentices, train them, and set up her own production line.
But can she really make pants cost-effectively? And, crucially, can she find a retailer prepared to stock her knickers and then convince shoppers to buy them?
Remarkable Television, an Endemol company
Episode 2 - Thu 22 Mar, 9pm, Channel 4
This week Mary lays down the rules she expects all the trainees to stick by, as they set to work mastering the machines, but for some it proves to be a trickier task than for others. Myra and Jackie are the supervisors charged with training the new staff alongside manager Lynn to get them up to scratch before embarking on making Mary's knickers.
Lynn and the team have been working on a prototype pant to test out the design. But every tweak Mary makes changes the cost price, so Headen and Quarmby Managing Director David, Lynn's nephew, sits down with Mary as they thrash out a viable retail price. Mary is determined they should be accessible to high street shoppers and wants them to be £10 a pair. But with competitor's knickers retailing for over double that, will she get her way?
As Mary learns all the elements needed for knickers, she is coming to terms with the realisation that knickers aren't as simple or as cheap as they appear. With quality at the forefront of her mind, she knows she cannot cut any corners.
After a lot of hard work the apprentices receive their first pay packet. Over the moon to be earning for themselves they celebrate but Lauren's joy is short lived, it soon becomes apparent she is struggling with the work.
Mary offers Lauren some advice and points out the only person holding her back is herself.
Lauren endeavours to turn over a new leaf, but in spite of her change in attitude, she still cannot get to grips with the machines. Will she be able to stay as part of the team in order to make the project successful? Her future is hanging by a thread.
Meanwhile time marches on and Mary has to settle on the branding and name for her knickers. At £10 a pair, she knows the brand has to stand out and say something to the consumers. A cheeky retro aesthetic is what she wants - for her Kinky Knickers! And as Mary wants these to be for every woman, picking the right models to show off the knickers means finding the right, curvy, beautiful bums!
Now the branding is established, and the knickers prototype ready, there's one final piece of the puzzle left - Mary has to get the knickers stocked by retailers. If Mary can't get buyers for her brand the whole project is at risk. And with the trainees depending on Mary for their careers, can she get a stockist on board?
Whilst Mary is pitching her heart out to retailers, Lynn drops a bombshell that threatens to set the whole project back weeks. With no knickers running off the production line yet, will Mary ever get Kinky Knickers to stores?
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