The British fashion industry has not voted for Brexit: 90 percent of designers told the British Fashion Council they would vote.
But in less than seven months, before the United Kingdom formally cuts its ties to the European Union, this £ 28 billion sector needs to get three very different looks, ready for future-proof business.
Richard Lim, CEO of Analyst Retail Economics, outlines the possible scenarios: "Hard Brexit – where existing trade agreements are disappearing and designers, retailers and manufacturers would have to pay for trade with the EU – would mean that clothes and shoes cost around 11 inches, or just over £ 1 billion a year. "A second option is a free trade agreement," but we do not know what kind of strings will be appropriate – it's hard for companies to plan ". Third, the United Kingdom may remain part of the Customs Union, but that seems unlikely, since Theresa May has already rejected this path.
"Whatever happens, the price of a pair of jeans will rise after Brexit," says Lim. "It's tariffs and an exodus of [European] Store personnel, designers, warehouse workers, delivery drivers … As we "take control of our borders", the pool of available personnel is likely to shrink, which means an inflationary impact on wages. It's probably going to bother massively.
The United Kingdom annually imports nearly 10 billion pounds of clothing and footwear from Europe; More than 10,000 European employees work in the British fashion industry. It has become a microcosm of UK Plc's struggle to deal with the outcome of the referendum.
Katharine Hamnett has thousands of her & # 39; CANCEL BREXIT & # 39; T-shirts sold and a new version, & # 39; FASHION HATES BREXIT & # 39; released. She is fighting for a second referendum, but also has an emergency plan. She has set up her own Italian company near Venice, "to cope with production and logistics, so we do not have to interfere with complicated Brexit bureaucracy and import and export issues for our production and supplies."
"It's scary that we know so little about" the deal "- the fashion industry works so far in advance and it feels like we're in a blackout room and we have to use a crystal ball to find our way out" says Frances Card, fashion consultant and former Matchesfashion.com COO. Their concern is voiced by Clare Hornby of ME + EM, whose Breton T-shirts are loved by the Duchess of Cambridge. Meanwhile, the photographer Nick Knight is unique. "The overwhelming evidence and general approval on all sides is that this country and its communities will be significantly worse off both economically and culturally if we leave the EU," he says.
It's not all bad. The Brexit-stopped fall in value has led to more and more Chinese, Arab and American fashion tourists spending money in the fanciest coffers of the West End. Higher sales, however, may not be enough to offset rising production costs abroad, and an influx of buyers could be offset by an upturn in international talent from the industry. José Neves, founder of the luxury online platform Farfetch, put it this way at last year's Web Summit in Lisbon: "We have 25 different nationalities in our office in London [Brexit] That's a big loss. "Writer and consultant Nick Vinson emphasizes," Many great "British" designers are Europeans and proud of them. "Mary Katrantzou is Greek, Simone Rocha is Irish, Peter Pilotto is Austrian, Italian.
Stephanie Phair, Chair of the British Fashion Council, says "Brexit's priority is to ensure that young people from all over the world have access to creative education and skills to protect our domestic talent pipeline". "It is extremely important that we remain open and accessible to international talent," she adds. The BFC supports the Mode arm of the Ministry of the Interior's Tier 1 Visa system and provides 2,000 top designers from outside the EU with an accelerated visa. "In the face of Brexit, that's incredibly important."
Stylist Tamara Cincik has set up Fashion Roundtable to ensure that the concerns of the industry are heard. "Fishing makes 1.4 billion pounds for the British economy, almost 30 billion pounds, but we only hear of cod," she says. "I know two long-established London brands, one in accessories, one in women's and men's fashion that moves to Portugal, and a big fashion company that wants to relocate its logistics to Italy." With a hard Brexit or no deal, most fashion companies expect that they are going, "she adds.
Universities claim the talent outflow is not yet taking place. The London College of Fashion says that the proportion of EU applicants has not dropped over the past year. Professor Frances Corner, head of the college, is a rare positive voice: "Brexit gives us the opportunity to ask what kind of fashionable future we want, ideas and thoughts can not be tied to national borders, they will always break through," she says. But she mourns the end of EU funding and possibly the Erasmus program, which allows students and staff to work elsewhere in Europe.
International Trade Minister Liam Fox said Brexit was "an unprecedented opportunity to create a trade environment that cares for our country, our businesses and our citizens." And it's true that Brexit is not a wardrobe disaster for any London fashion company. Vote Leave's demand for the return of "Made in Britain" is already bearing fruit in the unlikely place of Haringey. In a dazzling white workshop in Zone 2, Jenny Holloway runs Fashion Enter, where 107 seamstresses, tailors, and designer womenswear manufacture for Marks & Spencer, Asos, Matthew Williamson, and Preen. Since the referendum she has knocked on Tesco and Arcadia. "Brexit and the chaos in Turkey mean production is drifting back to the UK," says Holloway.
"We can move from idea to delivery in three weeks." However, about 80 percent of their staplers are Eastern Europeans. When; & # 39 [the Brexit vote] At first, two people went home immediately – they felt unloved and unwanted. Every week, we knocked on specialists from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland at the door – that's over. "
British manufacturers also need something to make their clothes from – and there are no cotton fields in Seven Sisters. Three-quarters of the materials used in the UK are imported. If there is no agreement, British manufacturers will face a bewildering array of tariffs.
"The manufacturers will have a lot of paperwork for each component in front of them," explains Anna Tobin, who is ready for the Brexit. "In addition, there may be technical barriers to trade – if a country decides that the standards of a British clothing company are not high enough, it could be ruled out, then there are the possible port queues that delay shipments, new VAT rules that mean that importers have to pay their 20 per cent in advance, and possible delays in immigration for foreign buyers.
"Businesses that are unthinkable today – the shipping of fabrics from Italian factories, the procurement of components from China, Turkey and India, the transport of finished clothes and models to Paris or Milan for the exhibitions and product lines to the stores in Europe – will add many more steps, it will be a logistical nightmare.
The Spaniard Álvaro González manufactures the sandals of his eponymous shoe brand in Florence and sells them in his Marylebone business and wholesale worldwide through Matchesfashion.com, Mr. Porter and Browns Fashion, all based in London. # Delivery for SS19 is nearing it [Brexit day] But our next collection, which we are now designing, is a problem – we have no way of knowing how to sell and deliver it. We wholesale in Euro, and sell in our business and by e-commerce in pounds. Our margins are threatened by exchange rate fluctuations. & # 39;
Stephen Sidkin, fashion partner at Fox Williams, whose clients include La Perla and Orla Kiely, believes the industry is not well prepared: "Many fashion companies are taking over the ostrich position – which could prove painful." But he admits that they have no choice. "Next week, many brands will have decided which items to make from their SS19 collections – but if they do not pay in sterling, how can they know where exchange rates are when the payment is due for overseas manufacturing? Or what duties are levied both in the United Kingdom and in the EU?
All of which leads experts to fear that London may lose its reputation as a global fashion capital. Last month, the founder of Superdry, Julian Dunkerton, gave the plebiscite for a second referendum £ 1 million. Frances Card adds, "About ten years ago, we came back from a big exodus of designers and top models at London Fashion Week – it was hard to do, the threat of [Brexit’s] A potential loss cuts through all aspects of our industry – a disaster for our businesses, businesses and well-groomed brands, and the freedom to move anything and everyone across the board. Let's not lose our place again.
Illustrations by Michelle Thompson