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Buoyant London Fashion Week brushes off Brexit effects

The fashion industry came together this week in support of London Fashion Week, as a positive mood and an uplift in international buyer attendance quelled concerns around the implications of Brexit.

The burberry september 2016 show

The burberry september 2016 show

Burberry’s show at London Fashion Week, September 2016

London stood firm as the fashion world’s centre of innovation and creativity last weekend, as more than 150 designers presented their collections in the London Fashion Week Designer Showrooms and 83 held catwalk shows. Burberry and Topshop Unique generated an additional buzz with their inaugural “see now, buy now” shows.

Prime minister Theresa May held a Downing Street reception for fashion industry leaders on the eve of the five-day event, which ran on 16-20 September.

May spoke of the importance of fashion to the UK economy and her commitment to supporting the industry as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

“The government I lead will do everything we can, including providing the right investment in training and skills, to help everyone, whatever people’s backgrounds, to go as far as their talents can take them,” she said. 

”From our home-grown start-ups to international fashion houses – every business in the industry will play a major role in ensuring we make a success of Brexit.

“By taking advantage of the opportunities that leaving the EU gives us and playing to our strengths as a great trading nation, we can build a build a fairer economy that works for all, not just the privileged few.”

Rob Jones, one half of design duo Teatum Jones, whose show opened LFW this season, was present at the reception. He said May listened to concerns raised by the industry: “I feel she realised how important fashion is to the UK and how vital our links with the EU are.

“She seems to be taking us seriously and will continue having talks with the British Fashion Council [BFC]. Our worries will not be brushed aside.”

Jones added that this season’s LFW was “a great success” and attracted a lot of interest from international buyers. 

Christa Kaufmann, catwalk editor at trend forecasting agency WGSN, said currency fluctuations caused by the result of the Brexit vote boosted the presence of international buyers at LFW, as retailers made the most of a weakened sterling.

“The number of international buyers seemed to be up because of the low pound, so that’s a big positive for London. Overall it was a good season, there wasn’t any doom or gloom about Brexit. LFW is always the most creative and innovative of all the shows. We need to preserve that.”

The latest UK Fashion & Textile Association data shows that UK clothing exports rose 51% to £5.8bn between 2010 and 2015. Exports to the EU rose by 29% to £5.8bn between 2010 and 2014.

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC, which organises LFW, said the UK’s departure from the EU would not hamper the British fashion industry’s opportunities abroad: “We are seeing strong retail sales and consumer spending at home, our brands continue to perform well in export markets and London is still home to the best talent in the global fashion industry.

“We need to ensure that our changing relationship with the EU will not impact on the creativity of London, our access to new talent overseas or the ongoing education and training programmes we support.”

Drapers reports from London Fashion Week




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