The EU referendum of 2016 interminably changed British culture and altered the ways in which we identify ourselves and our society. Whether you voted in or out, the fashion industry impacts us all and although it may seem trivial in comparison to other issues Brexit generated, it remains at the centre of our nation. Undoubtedly a massive contributor of the economy; just last year the industry itself was worth twenty eight billion pounds, providing over nine hundred thousand jobs in the UK. Not only this, London has forever been one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world, alongside the likes of Milan and Paris. With our fashion future unknown, what has already been affected by Brexit?
Thoughts regarding the fashion industry and Brexit have been extremely widespread. During the vote last year, many of our British fashion experts advertised their concerns with leaving the EU, including the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Ashley Williams, Jonathan Anderson and Claire Barrow, who all publicly voiced their support for the ‘in’ campaign. One of their main concerns is less about the economics of the fashion world, but more about the changing nature of Europe’s relationship to British trends and vice versa. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has not only supported London fashion education financially, but has been a major sponsor to new talent and global opportunities for our younger generations. The fashion industry is concerned by the potential lack of free movement for foreign talent. Many British fashion designers/companies based in the UK engage with and employ European designers, or have ateliers abroad to employ talents. With the help of Brexit, these opportunities could face serious damage.
However, although there are serious downsides for the British fashion industry being isolated from that of Europe, it seems that there have been some benefits. The dropping in the value of the pound after the referendum means that for international markets, London is the golden opportunity for traders paying in with euros, dollars and yuan. With online shopping subsequently thriving, and London as an unofficial e-commerce capital for huge online fashion headquarters, such as ASOS and Boohoo, Brexit is supporting businesses. There are predictions that ASOS will particularly prosper, with over two thirds of their customers come from overseas - financial gains for fashion it seems! Not only this, but many fashionistas believe that the ‘Britishness’ of our fashion trends can only become more prominent after leaving the EU. Increased enthusiasm for fashion ‘Made in Britain’ and ‘brand Britain’ encourages a further boost for the fashion economy. Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, has clearly established that despite Brexit, ‘British fashion has a strong legacy within the framework of European and international design’ and therefore our global influence continues.
Though anxiety surrounding the impending situation of the British fashion industry remains, with so many exciting styles explored in LFW, and with London’s Men’s Fashion Week soon approaching June 2017 it’s fair to say that there’s still lots to look forward to.