A hard Brexit will damage this thriving and flourishing industry. A recent study from the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) fears that restriction of freedom of movement may deter high-quality talent, hurting the UK economy overall. Additionally, the British Retail Consortium have estimated that around 10,200 EU nationals were employed in UK retail, with the UK Fashion and Textile Association stating that 70% of all London fashion factory workers are from the EU. Towards the end of last year, a survey revealed that 56% of all EU retail workers are worried about their ability to reside in the UK in the future.
The British Fashion Council have argued that losing EU regulations on intellectual property could inflict substantial damage. Designs are currently protected as a matter of course, which saves the expense of registering all individual designs across each portfolio. This could spell an end for London Fashion Week: designers will prefer to register designs in the EU in order to take advantage of its intellectual property laws. In turn, this will have a significant knock-on effect, as London Fashion Week serves as a medium through which British designers showcase their work and promote their business.
The UK fashion industry relies heavily on free trade with the EU. The European Union is Britain's largest export market for textiles and apparel; 74% of UK exports in total. In 2016, the value of UK fashion and textile exports stood at £9.1 billion.
A weaker pound raised alarms for many in the industry, as this triggered a sharp rise in raw material costs. This cost may then be passed on to the consumer, which would result in a drop in sales. It is estimated that a hard Brexit, in conjunction with a poor exchange rate, could result in a 35% rise in the price of products.
London Fashion Week celebrates artistic achievement and creativity, and we need to make sure that talent is protected, nurtured and encouraged.