Robin Walker, minister for exiting the European Union, met with British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush and several British designers during London Fashion Week. Here, he explains why fashion has a powerful part to play in securing the UK’s future after Brexit.
“Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life.” The words of street-style photographer Bill Cunningham resonate with millions of people for whom fashion is an important part of establishing and conveying their personal identity, writes Robin Walker.
But it is much more than that. While fostering creativity and artistic prowess, fashion inspires the entrepreneurship and innovation that drive economic growth and generate jobs. In fact, worldwide, the industry is worth around $3 trillion and accounts for 2% of global GDP. And we can be proud that Great Britain is at the very heart of the international fashion industry.
Robin Walker with shoe designer Charlotte Mills
Over the past five days, the capital has played host to hundreds of designers, both homegrown and from further afield, as part of London Fashion Week. This twice-yearly event attracts the biggest talents, brands and buyers from all over the world and it’s easy to see why.
British fashion is like no other: its individuality and energy sets it apart from the rest and translates cutting-edge British creativity into a dynamic global industry. From Burberry to Victoria Beckham, Topshop to Temperley London, British brands are among the most coveted on the planet, making the industry one of the UK’s biggest exporting success stories. Last year, it contributed £28bn to the UK economy and accounted for 880,000 jobs across the UK, and growth in the sector is outpacing that in the rest of the economy.
And as we prepare to build a new relationship with the European Union, we are absolutely committed to building on this momentum of growth. Leaving the EU will present challenges, but also opportunities. It will give us the chance to forge a new role for Britain in the world, to build a bold and outward-looking nation – a truly global Britain.
Industries such as fashion have their own powerful part to play in this. With such an influential role in shaping the UK’s image abroad, British brands will become even more important ambassadors for all that the UK has to offer.
And it is not a one-way relationship. Our world-class fashion colleges attract young designers from across Europe and the rest of the globe, who come here to learn their craft and kickstart their professional careers.
We have said that after leaving the EU we want to continue to attract the brightest and the best – we want to go on attracting those with the skills, drive and expertise that our flourishing industries depend on.
As we enter the negotiations, the government will continue to engage with the fashion industry and the rest of the creative sector to ensure we get the very best deal that works for all of the UK. The UK is home to exceptional creative talent and we are determined to foster it.