From Nigel’s Parkas to Nurses’ Scrubs – How the Mackintosh Factory is Supporting the NHS
The Mackintosh factory in Lancashire has been a key part of the Nigel Cabourn Authentic range for a good few years now. Based near Burnley, this place makes a large percentage of Nigel’s British-made outerwear, from classic pieces like the Mallory Jacket or the Cameraman Jacket, to one-off wonders like the recent collaboration with Liam Gallagher. Whilst it’s no secret that the folk here make really high-quality jackets, over the last month they’ve added another string to their bow, supporting key-workers in the ongoing fight to lessen the impact of the Covid-19 virus by making clothing and face-masks for the NHS.
Whilst this might sound like a bit of a curveball for a factory which is renowned for painstakingly piecing together some of the finest jackets coming out of England today, it’s actually a perfect fit, as Mackintosh Production Director Stephen Lees explains. “Fortunately the equipment we use is exactly what is required to make the nurses’ scrubs. We have stopped our Mackintosh production temporarily and 80% of the factory is making NHS scrubs and 20% are making face masks.”
With usual production fully halted to make way for this vital work, the staff have been working flat-out, and the factory has so far dispatched over 2,000 pieces of PPE. This is understandably a fair bit quicker than usual, and whilst it usually takes them around 200 minutes to complete a jacket, a pair of NHS trousers can be polished off in less than 10 minutes.
“There is certainly a lot less work in the nurses’ scrubs and better production runs,” says Stephen. “For Mackintosh and Cabourn we would expect the average quantity per style to be approximately 50 pieces, but for the NHS we have orders for April of 3,000 tops and 3,000 trousers (in one colour… blue).”
That said, quality control is as important as ever, and everything has been signed off by the NHS supplier to make sure it meets the nurses’ needs. Fabric is also of the utmost importance, and in the same way Nigel often uses specific materials made just for his jackets, the nurses’ scrubs are crafted from a lightweight, custom-made poly-cotton blend which is woven specifically for the NHS.
Luckily the staff were already fairly spread-out throughout the factory, meaning that although they’ve changed what they’re working on—the way they work hasn’t had to change too much to adhere to the guidelines. “The working conditions are very good and all the operators work more than two metres apart already. We are using more hand sanitiser, but this isn’t a problem,” says Stephen. “The team at our Nelson factory have been outstanding—they have been working over and above what you would expect, just to support the nurses.”
The team at Mackintosh are no strangers to making functional, fit-for-purpose, clothing, and now, at a time when it’s needed the most, it’s amazing to see their hard graft.