Textiles return to historic West Yorkshire mill

Mac Rai with his range of clothing

A flourishing new retail textile business has moved into a state-of-the-art studio at the award-winning Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, near Leeds.

Aristocrat London, which specializes in polo shirts, T-shirts, hoodies and Baseball caps, has moved into the iconic 1912 Mill at the pioneering mill complex.

This is the latest in a raft of new lettings at Sunny Bank, the iconic family-owned mill where Yorkshire Television’s Emmerdale and Heartbeat were filmed. Sunny Bank is now established as one of the most successful mixed-use developments in West Yorkshire.

Aristocrat London was founded by entrepreneur Mac Rai last year and was based in Leeds city centre, before moving to Sunny Bank Mills this summer.

Mac Rai, who is also Aristocrat London’s founder, said: “We are a British retail fashion brand, led by an innovative and ethical ethos. Our clothing range is made from organic cottons and is vegan, without using any animal testing.

“We are honored to be based in a former worsted weaving mill in the heart of Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley. Our wonderful new premises encompass our showroom, design studios, photography studios, print studios and office. We keep everything in-house, so we can control the quality of our clothing range and create a well-respected label, and sell on-line across the world.

“Our aim is offer beautifully designed and comfortable garments at a competitive price. My own experience in the clothing industry stretches back two decades, working extensively with niche brands which were sold in prestigious fashion houses such as Harvey Nichols, Flannels, and Selfridges.

“I chose Sunny Banks Mills primarily because of its rich textiles heritage, which fits in perfectly with our brand. And it has been a tremendous bonus to find that William and John Gaunt, who own and manage the mill, are incredibly helpful with everything we do.

William Gaunt, co-managing director of Edwin Woodhouse, the owners of Sunny Bank Mills, said: “We are delighted to welcome Mac Rai and Aristocrat London to Sunny Bank Mills. To us, this is a wonderfully symbolic move and a potent reminder of our history.

“We have a tremendous textile heritage, stretching back to the early nineteenth century. It was obviously a wrench to stop manufacturing textiles here, but we believe the success of our regenerated mill has put the beating heart back into the magnificent village of Farsley.”

John Gaunt, co-managing director, said: “Aristocrat London is a worthy and exciting addition to the Sunny Bank Mills community. We now have beauticians, hair salons, cafes, restaurants, a yoga studio and a massage studio, all providing a variety of services for the many companies who are now based here. Now we have an independent fashion retailer, which an exciting – and ethical – clothing range.”

“It is this attractive offer, which we work so hard to achieve, that makes Sunny Bank Mills not just a wonderful place to work but also a great place to visit and spend time at as well.

“At the same time, we have recently invested £2m in the Weaver’s Yard project at Sunny Bank, which has opened up the centre of the mill, creating a magnificent performance area and 95 new car parking spaces.”

Altogether there are now 75 companies with more than 350 employees on site.

Sarah-Jayne Lishman of marketing agents Dove Haigh Phillips, said: “The owners of Sunny Bank Mills took the brave decision to invest heavily in their mill and this decision has paid dividends.

“This is one of the most significant mill regeneration projects in Yorkshire. Steeped in history and with massive potential, Sunny Bank Mills is now one of the prime business locations in the West Leeds area.”

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