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Lessons learnt from STeP by OEKO-TEX certifying sustainable UK textile manufacturing


Sudbury Silk Mills is the first UK textile manufacturer to be awarded OEKO-TEX STeP® certification and will share learnings from this challenging certification process at the upcoming Sustainability in UK Textiles conference on 28 September in London.

Natalie Mumford is Business Manager at Humphries Weaving and Responsibility Lead for Sudbury Silk Mills, which comprises Stephen Walters, David Walters and Humphries Weaving. Sudbury Silk Mills has has been at the forefront of silk weaving for over three centuries and ten generations, producing luxury fabric woven to order for the world’s most discerning customers.

The business has the unique challenge of creating over 20,000 different products every year, all custom designed and bespoke woven, from over 2000 SKUs of yarn across 10 fibre types, including 22 varieties of raw silk alone.

Servicing the luxury market for furnishing, apparel and accessories the business wanted to demonstrate its values as a responsible mill, whilst anticipating the customer need to be ‘sustainable’ but with little consensus on what that means as an industry.

OEKO-TEX STeP® is an independent certification system that allows us to communicate our environmental measures externally in a credible and transparent way, certifying the manufacturing process for environmentally friendly and socially responsible textile production facilities. OEKO-TEX STeP® robustly assess; Chemical management, Environmental performance, Environmental management, Social responsibility, Quality management, Health protection and safety at work.

“We are proud to be the first UK Textile Manufacturer to be awarded OEKO-TEX STeP® certification, which demonstrates Ideal implementation in the sense of Best Practice examples,” explained Natalie Mumford. “At the Sustainability in UK Textiles conference later this month, we will share our honest experience of this challenging certification process, the benefits to our business and our hopes for engaging our customers in understanding and valuing the content and competencies demonstrated.”


Solutions, lessons and definitions

The second UKFT Sustainability conference on 28 September in London will build on the success of the 2022 event by providing clear, industry-relevant help and guidance specifically for the UK textile industry. The speakers will offer advice on how to improve performance, measure and monitor progress, and communicate environmental credentials. The conference will give a clearer overview of the relevant environmental merits (or otherwise) of various fibres and certification schemes and an outline of the current landscape for sustainability legislation.

Registration is now open for leaders in UK textile manufacturing. Space is limited so unfortunately we are unable to offer places for stakeholders from the wider UK textile industry. If you are from a business manufacturing textiles in the UK and wish to apply for a place, please contact info@ukft.org


About the speaker

Natalie Mumford Sudbury Silk Mills Humphries Weaving

Natalie Mumford is Business Manager at Humphries Weaving and Responsibility Lead for Sudbury Silk Mills. Natalie graduated with a Textile Design degree from Central Saint Martins, following an early career in private sector account management. Combining her commercial experience with her creative studies she joined Humphries Weaving as an account manager, specialising is historic restoration and bespoke textile design for the luxury furnishing market.

After a decade with the business and having completed further qualifications in Leadership and Management, Natalie is now at the helm of the Humphries Weaving Company, coordinating all the business activities and leading a team of account managers. Humphries Weaving is one of three weaving businesses based at Sudbury Silk Mills, the others being Stephen Walters and David Walters. Recognising the importance of sustainable textile production but also the scale of the commitment involved, alongside her role at Humphries Weaving, Natalie also leads the Responsibility Steering group for Sudbury Silk Mills. This group provides overall strategic direction to a network of working and action groups; covering Oeko-Tex accreditation, Environmental Management and Environmental Performance. Membership of these groups is made up from made up of teams of people across all parts of the mill for engagement on non-commercial activity.