With roots stretching back to 1783, Camira has truly established itself as both a leader and pioneer of the British textile industry; employing over 650 staff, selling over 8 million metres of fabric each year, providing to approximately 80 countries worldwide, and offering over 2,500 products in a colour palette that covers the spectrum.
Design Insider spoke with Alan Williams, Chief Operating Officer, and Lynn Kingdon, Head of Design, to learn more about the history of this proudly British fabric manufacturer.
Have you always manufactured your fabrics in Britain?
Alan: Absolutely – it’s where we first began creating fabrics, in a mill in the North of England, not too far from where our main manufacturing facility is now based (a 250,000 sq. ft factory in Meltham, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire), and where we have honed our craft throughout the centuries. Every element of our fabric production for the contract sector takes place in Britain, from the yarns being spun to the rolls being woven and the finished fabrics being dyed, it all happens here.
Could you tell us a little about the different locations you have in Britain? What exactly happens where?
Alan: We have six different facilities here; Camira Yarns in Huddersfield, where our woollen yarns are spun; Meltham Mills, where our fabrics are woven and finished, where our technical testing takes place, and where our logistics and distribution centre is located.
We then have our dyeing facilities – Holmfirth Dyers and Park Valley Dyers – which is, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, where our fabrics are expertly coloured in a myriad of shades and ways. Our head office – The Watermill in Mirfield – is also in close proximity to these manufacturing sites, and is where our design, customer service, marketing and finance teams are based.
We also have a state-of-the art knitting facility located in Nottingham; home to Camira Knit, this is where some of our most exciting innovations happen – with the team working with world-leading designers and furniture manufacturers to create bespoke ‘knit to fit’ fabrics for everything from lamps to panels and task and lounge chairs.
Why do you choose to manufacture in Britain?
Alan: The passion, history and expertise present in this small part of the globe is truly unparalleled – it’s home to some of the most skilled and innovative textile specialists in the world, and we’re proud to say that ‘Made in Britain’ applies to every roll of fabric we weave.
So, Lynn, turning to the design side of the business – could you tell us a little about the work you and your team do?
Lynn: Of course! The design and manufacturing sides of the business are actually very closely aligned – it’s a very hands-on process creating textiles, and our designers work closely with our spinners, weavers and dyers – creating prototypes, developing constructions and refining colours – to ensure the finished product is exactly right. So, whilst our designers create the concept for a new range, it’s then very much a collaborative effort across all departments to make it a reality.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
Lynn: Although we’re based in Britain, our fabrics are at home the world over, so our inspiration is sourced on a global level – with everything from lifestyle and fashion to culture and technology feeding into the textiles we create and the colours we choose.
Do you have a favourite British material?
Lynn: We love British wool at Camira – the intense weather conditions encountered by our sheep make for ultra-robust wool! Used predominately in our plush moquette fabrics for the transport market, and featured everywhere from the London Underground to the LA Metro, there really is no better fibre in terms of performance. It’s also the predominate material in our Yoredale fabric, which was launched in 2019, and was entirely inspired by our home county of Yorkshire – this deeply textured fabric actually makes a feature of the innate black fibres present in British wool by including an innovative binder yarn to provide an extra hit of visual detail.
Finally, you’ve launched a number of gorgeous fabrics lately – including Sumi & Kyoto and Craggan Flax – do you have any exciting plans for 2021?
Lynn: We do indeed – the design team is busy developing a number of new collections for launch later this year, including some beautiful additions to existing ranges, so we’re currently in the midst of finalising design details and selecting colour palettes! We also have our brand new Vision Book, titled New Perspectives, set for release in the very near future – illustrating three diverse design stories, it brings together the textiles, colours and materials that will be influential in interior schemes in the coming months – and we can’t wait to share it with our customers.
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