With only weeks away before the U.K. exits the European Union on October 31, the fashion world is bracing itself for the effects of Brexit. It’s apparent that the U.K.’s fashion industry didn’t favor Brexit. According to figures from the British Fashion Council,a not-for-profit organization that runs London Fashion Week, 90% of fashion designers said they voted to remain.
The British Fashion Council’s stance is for the U.K. to seek a deal rather than a no-deal. “We would like access to funding to stimulate British designers,” said British Fashion Council chair Stephanie Phair. “And to lobby government to help advise on scenarios because in fact, the two biggest risks for Brexit from fashion brands are around trade and frictionless borders and around talent. Those are the two areas that are going to be most affected.”
Phair, who is the chief strategy officer for Farfetch, said that the business pillar at the British Fashion Council has always focused on supporting the fashion industry. “It has always been a core function of the BFC is to really champion the business aspect of our fashion businesses,” said Phair. “And to support talent and help them commercialize that talent. And we’ve done things through the New Gen and BFC Fashion Trust and BFC Vogue and GQ Designer Funds.”
Phair shared her thoughts on why people should invest in British fashion.
The U.K. is an inventive and innovative place.
“” feel the value for investors comes is that in a world with so much choice, so many brands, what the U.K. brings to the table is, that creativity, that innovation, that differentiation and that sort of true fashion, expertise and leadership that actually a lot of the biggest brands in the world source in the U.K. and imports for their own businesses. The British ecosystem has always been very open to innovation and digital and the ability to scale businesses is so much predicated on that.”
The U.K. nurtures creative and talented individuals.
“If you look at the creative teams that some of the world’s biggest brands, so many of them have come out of the British system. And so when you look at that and you couple that with a lot of the efforts that we’re making around business, which is to bring in more commercial skill sets to help sort of facilitate, you can really start to see the opportunity for businesses to really, um, to really scale.”
This is about investing in value and longevity.
“I think understanding the realities of the fashion ecosystem and how everything works from cash flow to samples to the fact that, and this ties into Brexit, the fact that the fashion industry similar to automotive is very much about component parts and you have to understand that to really understand how a brand works. And so I think really strategic investors, long term investors and investors who really see the value in finding those brands that are truly commercializing true fashion design, which I think the U.K. has that.”
Phair pointed out that one of the things that people tend to forget is that the fashion industry contributes to well over 32 billion pounds to the U.K. economy. “It is on par with the fishing industry,” said Phair. “It employs as many people as the finance industry. It’s on par with car manufacturing. I mean, it really is on par with some of the big industries but fashion isn’t always spoken about in the same terms. I think at something that BFC has always done is shown the importance of fashion as a business and as a very, very solid contributor to GDP and national employment.”
She believes fashion is a very powerful tool for soft power especially post-Brexit. “We export that IP and have commercialized it into solid businesses,” said Phair said of Britain’s fashion talent and creativity. “That will be more important than ever as we start to build up a U.K. post-Brexit. Made in Britain is going to be all the more important and where we need to really play and leverage on what we’re very good at.”