UK’s Ross Barr knitwear hits Beijing

Yorkshire men’s fashion company Ross Barr is to start exporting to China after being chosen for a showcase of British brands in Beijing.

Launched after winning a start-up grant from The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Program in 2015, the knitwear specialist’s garments are being displayed in The British House department store near Tiananmen Square, which highlights UK businesses to help them capitalise on China’s growing appetite for British goods.

Self-taught clothing designer Ross Barr-Hoyland, who founded the company, uses Scottish wool fleeces for his garments. His first product, double-breasted cardigan The Spencer, inspired by the Regency period, has sold worldwide and was worn by supermodel David Gandy for the Campaign for Wool Week in London in 2015.

Ross appointed overseas trade specialist Chamber International to help his company develop sales in China and beyond after attending an event staged jointly with Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in Leeds. It highlighted opportunities for UK businesses being created by China’s “new silk road”.

“I aim to build an authentic British brand to help revive British textiles, combat the decline in former industrial heartlands and provide opportunities for people in these areas,” says Barr.

“I’m looking forward to working with Chamber International to see how we can develop sales in China and along the ‘new silk road’ as it develops. As far as I’m concerned, the sky’s the limit.”

So far Ross has generated sales of The Spencer throughout the UK, continental Europe, China, Japan, South Africa, Australasia and South America, and has developed two other garments, The Elliott and The Hoyland, which are also picking up overseas sales.

The British House was founded by Yimei McCabe, a China adviser to the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability, which trains policy, financial and business leaders from China, the World Bank and EU. The department store features British fashion, homeware, art and education, including such brands as Duke and Dexter, Heals, John Smedley, Johnstons of Elgin, and Turnbull and Asser. Ross Barr’s garments will be displayed in the Men’s Dressing Room, alongside other clothing and accessory brands.

Chamber International China affairs associate, Matthew Grandage, says China’s middle-class and wealthy consumers are increasingly seeking out boutique, quality brands with a story to tell, rather than just the major international labels.

“Britain has a well-deserved reputation for being at the global forefront of fashion and clothing design. Ross is quick off the mark in realising the importance of this.”

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