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The fashion industry is worried.
It’s not next year’s trends getting people tetchy. Nor is it the industry ban on fur getting fashionista’s anxious. No, this is because of Brexit.
Leading fashion designer Alexa Chung and the head of the British Fashion Council (BFC) are among those that have warned about the impending fate of the £32 billion industry in the UK. Causing uncertainty and worry about its effects when it comes into action next year.
Among the concerns aired by Chung is that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have wide-ranging consequences. Chung’s main concern being the freedom of movement for creatives, if the UK were to leave the EU.
Speaking last month during London Fashion Week, the BFC chairwoman, Stephanie Phair, told the BBC’s Today programme;
“It is the uncertainty that makes it difficult for the industry to figure out how to plan for Brexit in their strategies.
“It is an industry that is complex. It requires manufacturing abroad, designing here, reshipping abroad. It is a mix of goods, services and talents.
“So what we are talking to Government about is really frictionless borders, tariff-free access to the EU and the ability for talent to move, the free movement of people. We continue to have these conversations.”
Although Ms Phair admitted the future of British fashion manufacturers was uncertain, she remained ‘optimistic’ regarding the free movement of fashion workers and working visas.
Elaborating on the effect a no-deal Brexit might have, she added: “We don’t know, because we don’t know what that no-deal Brexit would look like.”
The director of UK clothing manufacturers Wiseman Clothing, Jamie Holder, also said that Brexit was currently an ‘unknown’ entity to the industry.
“Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen. What I can tell you is that immediately after the decision (in 2016) we experienced a slump in the pound coupled with a hike in costs for supplies such as dyes and fabrics.”
“The problem we have now is that fashion buyers looking to manufacture clothes for the SS19 season have a dilemma. Do they go with a British manufacturer with all the uncertainty present and a potential surprise with duties, delays in shipping etc. or simply go elsewhere?”
“It creates questions yes. Unanswered questions at the moment.”
Ms Chung’s view on Brexit centre around her multinational operations;
“This is something that I have fears about. Our warehouse is in the Netherlands, there are British people in here, but we also have lots of talented people from all over the world, so that worries me.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do have concerns for my business and how that is going to fare.” She told the Today programme.
The focus of the impact will be felt among workers, it is feared. The ability of the UK to firstly attract those workers and ultimately retain them. The fashion industry plays host to a plethora of foreign workers within the fashion industry as well as UK models working overseas.
This, from all those involved, is the crux of the potential scenario. These individuals are needed for the growth of an industry already under threat from overseas manufacturers and producers.