I think it would be fair to say that many industries were shaken to the core by the Brexit vote early last Summer, however in no industry was the shock and worry more apparent than the fashion industry, where a poll by the BFC saw 90% of Designers state a preference for a Remain vote.
It’s understandable that so many felt that way when you consider the importance of exports, free movement of labour and the strong collaborations we share with our counterparts across Europe in the industry. However, now that Brexit is happening and we are finally beginning to learn small details of what the Government is aiming for in Brexit negotiations, we as an industry must look to the future and the possible opportunities that Brexit can offer us.
We have already seen some small silver linings to the vote; these could be signs of the opportunities we can make use of if we are willing. For example, the immediate plummet of the pound in the wake of the Brexit vote allowed for an increase in foreign spending in the fashion and luxury sectors, with stores like Harrods, Asos and others seeing marked rises in spending as tourists began to see the opportunity for bargain buys in London.
That is not to say that we should ignore the many possible perils of a Leave vote, such as the possible increase in manufacturing costs for British designers, many of whom source fabrics and have many aspects of their manufacturing and production carried out abroad. The rising cost for these brands may have to be offset by rising prices for consumers and this is something that we all should be aware and indeed cautious of. We should also ensure going forward, that we work to improve manufacturing capabilities within the UK to make sure these issues don’t cripple new designers.
We must also be wary to ensure that we continue the free flow of creative talent from all over the world in and out of Britain and ensure that designers continue to reap the benefits of access to an international market of trading and creativity.
The future is what we make it and if I’ve learnt anything about the fashion industry and those who keep its wheels spinning, it’s that they always pull through and find new, creative ways to seize opportunities under every circumstance.
- Josh Leneveu