Sunderland firm sews up six-figure success

RAP superstars and surging demand in America have helped a custom clothing firm double its employees and break the £1m-a-year turnover barrier for the first time.

Washington-based Woven Inc increased its annual turnover by 40% in 2016 to £1.1m amid growing global orders and significant investment at its HQ.

The company provides screen printing, embroidery, transfers and garment finishing in several sectors, including workwear, fashion and sports.

It also works extensively in the music industry, most recently winning a contract with Top Dawg Entertainment – the record label affiliated with rapper Dr Dre.

This has seen the company supply merchandise for tours of some the world’s biggest hip-hop stars, including Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar and ASAP Rocky. In the last quarter of 2016 it shipped 5,000 garments to Norway for Schoolboy Q’s European tour. Among other artists Woven has worked with is Anastasia, whose tour manager recommended the firm to Top Dawg.

Meanwhile, the political uncertainty of Brexit and the American presidential campaign has played into the company’s hands in the last 12 months.

The impact of financial market volatility on garment prices has prompted US customers to buy merchandise in Europe for events here, rather than having them exported from the States.

Woven invested over £150,000 in 2016 in new equipment to increase its capacity. It also launched a new website and doubled its headcount from 10 to 20 employees during the year.

Woven was launched by husband-and-wife team Ian and Sarah Taylor in 2012 and is based on Pattinsons Industrial Estate.

Its success in the music industry came on the back of Ian’s former career working in extreme sports; an industry with a close affiliation with rap, pop and rock music.  

The couple are gearing up for another year of strong growth throughout 2017, with Ian saying: “We’re continuing to make strides in securing new workwear business and are working with some fantastic fashion brands on a national basis.

“Our reputation is developing here and in the States, and we have the capacity to meet growing demand. Recent investment means we now have the ability to embroider or print 50,000 items of clothing per week. We’re also being recognised as the UK’s leading 3D – or puff -  embroidery specialist.” 

Woven’s growth has been supported by Sunderland City Council, which provides advice and guidance to businesses and helps them access the funding needed to expand.

Councillor Harry Trueman,  deputy leader of Sunderland City Council said: “Woven’s ongoing success in the UK and abroad is a fantastic advert for the skills and entrepreneurial spirit of our region. It is an ambitious, young company with huge potential and we’re delighted that it continues to prosper here in Sunderland. We look forward to supporting it in the future.”

In 2015 Woven doubled the size of its Washington base after securing access to the Regional Growth Fund. In the same year it landed a global contract with Hamleys toy store.

For more information on the firm visit