Based in Shetland in the North Sea, LHD Custom Clothing is one of the UK’s most remote garment decorators, with one of the most eclectic mix of customers. Images talks to Julie Dennison about festivals, fishing, and fixing machinery

While the exact combination varies from shop to shop, most garment decorators have fairly standard sectors they target: workwear, schoolwear, band merch, kidswear, hospitality, sportswear, etc.

And then you have LHD Custom Clothing in the Shetland Islands. Its customer base includes Up Helly Aa squads, cruise ship tourists, and fishing boats. It reads less like a client list and more like tourist board notes for visitors to this most northerly part of the British Isles.

The Up Helly Aa fire festivals, explains embroiderer Julie Dennison, are inspired by Shetland’s Viking past that involves guizing (dressing up), torch burning and music. Held between January and March, the most famous one is in Lerwick, which is where LHD Custom Clothing is based.

Cruise ships

The embroidery and print shop is part of a larger company, LHD, that offers a range of fish selling and fishing vessel management services in the Shetland and Orkney islands, with its subsidiary, LHD Marine Supplies, supplying chandlery, fuel oil and ice.

In 1998, the company landed a contract to supply workwear for Scottish Water, and so began the embroidery department.

More than 25 years later, it has morphed from a small operation in an upstairs office to having its own standalone shop with three Brother embroidery machines from GS UK, an Epson SC-F2000 DTG printer, a Roland BN-20 printer cutter and a Roland GX-24 vinyl cutter, and a couple of heat presses, all from Xpres.

A member of the 2023 Lerwick Jarl’s squad carrying a flag embroidered by LHD Custom Clothing

A member of the 2023 Lerwick Jarl’s squad carrying a flag embroidered by LHD Custom Clothing

LHD bought the Epson DTG printer from Xpres in 2017 and it continues to work well; however, when the team eventually needs new equipment, direct-to-film (DTF) is an area they’ll consider.

Whatever printer they choose, it will need to be easy for the team to fix, says Julie. “When technical issues happen you have to rely on phone calls and emails, you can’t just get an engineer to come over. It’s a fact of life of living here, there’s no other option.”

….Read the full profile of LHD Custom Clothing in our April 2024 issue here