As one of the biggest political events in recent history, the referendum resulting in Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will have repercussions that will be felt by pretty much everyone, no less the UK’s fashion industry.
While it’s unclear how long it will take for Britain to negotiate its exit from the EU, the shock result immediately sent stock markets plunging and the pound dropping to its lowest in decades. The long-term impact on the economy is unsettling and, while those of us in Australia may take advantage of the weak pound for online shopping, what is clear is the potential negative impact on the British fashion industry. One of the world’s most creative and vibrant cities, London has a population of 8.6 million people (three million are foreign-born) and has garnered a reputation for diversity – where history collides with a variety of cultures. London is the home to some of the world’s most cutting edge and unique designer fashion. With the British luxury sector contributing £32 million to the UK economy, it’s hard to ignore the effect Brexit will have on one of the most important industries. The decision is already having an impact on Burberry (established in 1856) – where the luxury group has put a hold on the plan to build a new £50 million weaving facility in the UK as they assess the impact of the vote. Aside from the big-name British designers like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, London is known for its cool and independent designer fashion – Marques’ Almeida, Molly Goddard and Sibling. A weaker pound may mean spending more on production, which will lead to costs likely being passed on to the customer. We may see luxury brands like Burberry and Christopher Kane and high street brands like Whistles or Top Shop becoming more insanely expensive.
Will we see Burberry prices skyrocket post-brexit vote?
Before the Brexit vote, the British Fashion Council surveyed its members and found that 90 percent of members wanted to remain in the EU. From all accounts, there’s cautious decision-making ahead with a feeling of uncertainty for the future of the fashion industry. Influential names in the fashion industry had already shown their overwhelming support in favour of staying in the EU, designer Vivienne Westwood expressed her views on the importance of staying in the EU through her Instagram. Christopher Bailey, the creative director of Burberry, showed his support in a letter published in The Times of London.
London’s Central Saint Martins – the renowned arts and design college – whose alumni include some of London’s most celebrated and innovative designers. Currently, EU students pay the same rate as British students to attend Central Saint Martins, but the Brexit result may increase in costs for these students when applying to study in the future. For London, the hive for emerging young designer fashion, it’s predicted the cost of production will increase for these designers as most look to Europe for manufacturing. Designers also source fabrics and produce garments in Europe and talent, such as seamstresses, often travels from Europe for British designers. Designer Christopher Kane recently told The New York Times before the vote, “all of these amazing seamstresses from Italy, from all over Europe, that have been working with us for five years… How much would it cost for us to get them Visas?” Header image: Instagram