Today is the perfect day to re-address an issue that could in the long run have an affect on the merging of fashion and technology. Did you know, that according to the British fashion Council and Oxford Economics, 880,000 jobs are supported by the UK fashion industry, 5,000 guests were invited to London Fashion Week last season, from 58 countries and 90 percentage of British fashion businesses voted to remain in the EU? Well, when you are presented with these numbers, it is no wonder why the majority of the British fashion industry continue to take a stand against Brexit.
Now, as London Fashion Week begins, the most ardent anti-Brexit voters are letting their voice be heard again. Among them is Caroline Rush, who appeared on the BBC Breakfast this morning sharing her thoughts on what it could mean for future fashion weeks. The chief executive of the British Fashion Council shared in an interview, “It is fair to say that the majority of London’s fashion industry were not in favor of Brexit. So the priority for us since has been to meet with as many people here as possible to hear concerns and give them access to advice around potential challenges like intellectual property regulations, trading tariffs and visas.”
“There is no denying that designers like Mary Katrantzou and Ashish are part of the artistic fabric that has propelled British Fashion Week”
Upsetting the cultural melting pot that is London Fashion Week, ‘immigrants’ like Mary Katrantzou and Ashish, have also been quite vocal about how this decision could affect their business. Their success has contributed to the £28bn industry, so for them this unforeseen change has bred uncertainty. There is no denying that designers like Mary Katrantzou and Ashish are part of the artistic fabric that has propelled British Fashion Week into the respected position it currently holds.
Taking a different stand, Paul Thompson, the rector of the Royal College of Art, believes that Britain’s membership in the European Union should not have the power to affect the Fashion Industry the way many people fear. He points out, “There are plenty of global cities that aren’t part of the E.U. which are also great capitals of culture and finance. The top design talent won’t want to leave London because it still has the best education prospects, and broadest spectrum of specialist sectors in once place.” I understand Paul Thompson’s point, but lets also not be naive, change is inevitable, the question is, long term, how will it affect the next crop of designers?
“Although there could be a moment of uncertainty, we do need to have faith in the British fashion industry’s legacy and its value to the European and international design.
On BREXIT’s impact on the fashion industry, Becky Knott, a trainee trade mark attorney at Barker Brettell LLPO shared in a blog post ” Surprisingly to the naysayers, the immediate effect of Brexit has been extremely positive for the fashion industry. The weakness of the pound on the international markets has turned London into a golden opportunity for bargain hunters paying in euros, dollars, and yuan. Consequently, online shopping is booming. This is good news for London, which has been established as an unofficial e-commerce capital, with companies, such as Net-A-Porter, ASOS, and Boohoo, having established their headquarters there.” I can see her point that an increased interest in the ‘British brand’ is not a bad thing. But the truth of the matter is that not every fashion designer can afford for their collections to be solely ‘Made in Britain’.
So as the first model struts onto the runway this morning, should we expect designers to make controversial political statements on the catwalk? Well, we all know that it is definitely the best way to grab a headline, as proved by big designers like Vivienne Westwood, who once sent a lead model down the catwalk with a placard that said “Fair Trial My Arse” as a stand against the Guantanamo prison without charge or trial. I do believe that although there could be a moment of uncertainty, we do need to have faith in the British fashion industry’s legacy and its value to the European and international design. Most of us have made peace with the fact that we cannot change the decision, but when you are given lemons, you should make lemonade.