On Friday 24th June, the UK voted to leave the EU, sending the country into a state of panic about an uncertain future. Whilst nobody can say for certain what will happen when Brexit is implemented in the next couple of years, the global fashion industry may suffer some unprecedented damage- from a vote they didn’t support.
An uncertain future
An end to unity, and changes to trade, travel, tourism and the state of the economy have all been thrown into uncertain turmoil, all of which affect the state of the fashion industry.
As the Leave campaign’s success sent the pound plunging to a three decade low and sent stock markets into a slump, British businesses are left questioning what this means for their trade. Brands like Burberry, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo already felt the brunt of the financial crash, as the value of their FTSE100 dropped by £122billion.
Damages to profit
High street brands aren’t safe either. They were already having a tough year, with changing consumer demands and unseansonal weather. Shopping is no longer our favourite past time, shown by slowed footfall. Now, success for Leave could mean another drop in consumer confidence.
As David Cameron announced that he would not immediately trigger a ‘Brexit’ under Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, the UK faces a complicated two year divorce from the EU, as negotionates about Britain’s relationship with the EU, including the single market, decide our future.
These proceedings will raise questions over London as a global financial capital- a capital which plays a major role in the fashion industry, and contributed an estimated £26 billion to the UK economy in 2014, according to the Business of Fashion. And so, the luxury goods industry will have to adapt to a new, more volitle market. They buy goods overseas and pay in dollars, meaning the slumped pound will increase the cost of import, and trade tariffs with EU countries is a threat.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
In fact, the pound’s decline could be good news for luxury good companies in the UK. Searches by Chinese consumers for ‘UK holidays’ skyrocketed after the referendum result, according to the Business of Fashion. Foreign buyers are taking advantage of the cheaper Burberry coats, and are expected to flock to the UK to snap up discounts. This will bring much needed trade to our high end companies, as buyers usually make their purchases overseas.
The problem is this influx of visitors to the UK will take time, as Chinese buyers sort Visas, and we don’t know what Brexit will mean for the broader industry, which is already struggling for profit as demand for luxury goods is in decline.
Uncertain relations may effect how the UK sources fabrics and produce from other places in Europe. Production may be outsourced to China which makes it a whole lot more expensive- and this expense may be passed onto the consumer. This would make Topshop a whole lot pricier, and high-end brands even less accessible.
Not to mention the impact leaving the EU will have on travel; freedom of movement is integral to the ease of the European fashion industry. Christopher Kane, London-based designer, told The New York Times: “all of these amazing seamstresses from Italy, all over Europe, that have been working with us for five years.. How much would it cost for us to get them Visas.”
London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week might take a hit too, as, depending on agreements, it may make travel more difficult. It means we can’t predict which designers or collections will feature in future shows. Thankfully, British Fashion Council confirms to Elle.com that this autumn’s fashion week will go ahead as planned.
Designer’s left heartbroken
Regardless of UK fashion’s future, Designers didn’t vote for Brexit and are understandably upset by the outcome. The British Fashion Council surveyed its members before the Referendum result and found that and overwhelming 90% wanted to remain in the EU. They since took to social media to express their sadness that we are exiting the EU. Whilst some, like Simone Rocha, had nothing more to share than a broken heart symbol, Sibling called for love and peace, claiming they are not going to be “defined through the acts of others.” Vivienne Westwood wrote about the end of unity.
All we can do is sit and wait to see how this history-making decision affects our country, and hope we can recover.