The minister with the unenviable task of plotting the UK’s exit from the EU has met with leading fashion industry insiders to discuss his vision for the future of the fashion industry. Brexit minister Robin Walker joined British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush and a number of British designers to explain why fashion has a powerful part to play in building a truly global Britain.
Fashion has always helped to develop the personal identity of individuals, but as one of the UK’s fastest growing industries, outstripping the growth of the economy by 7 percent in recent years, it also has a wider role in shaping the identity of the UK.
Building on the Fashion Industry’s growth
The global fashion industry is worth around $2.5trillion a year, and this is predicted to double over the next 10 years to generate up to $5trillion annually. And importantly, as London Fashion Week showed, Britain is at the very heart of this booming industry.
While the bi-annual London Fashion Week is very much the focal point of the UK’s fashion industry, where brands like Burberry and Victoria Beckham showcase their wares, there’s also much more going on away from these internationally recognised names. Last year, the fashion industry contributed £28bn to the UK economy and accounted for 880,000 jobs in all areas of the UK. As we prepare to leave the EU, domestic powerhouses like this are exactly what we need.
As much as we’re all sick of hearing about the vote to leave the European Union, it’s essential we focus on this momentum of growth and traditional areas of strength to overcome the challenges that no doubt await. The fashion industry will have a central role in all of that, helping us to forge our new relationship with the EU and to capitalise on the opportunities it brings.
Becoming ambassadors for the UK
In post-Brexit Britain, it is down to the many internationally recognised British brands to become ambassadors for the UK and all it has to offer. And this is certainly not a one-way relationship. The UK also does its bit to boost the fashion industry around the world, with world-class fashion colleges attracting young designers from across Europe to teach them all they need to know to kick-start their careers.
A big part of the argument against leaving the EU was the risk that the UK would no longer be able to attract the brightest, best and skilled workers. Fashion can be in the vanguard of British industry in this respect, showing Europe, and skilled workers across the world, that we are still very much open for business.
Getting the best deal
As we enter the article 50 negotiations, the government will continue to engage with the fashion industry and the rest of the thriving creative sector to get the very best deal for the UK. The truth is that as yet, we do not know what this deal will look like or what the true impact will be. However, the fashion industry, with its entrepreneurial, international and creative outlook, will be at the centre of it all, driving us forward and shaping our future, in or out of Europe.
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