Britain has this week been hosting one of the biggest and most talked-about events of the international fashion calendar: London Fashion Week. This is wonderful opportunity to showcase our world-class talent, our fantastic British brands and fly the flag once again for British creativity.
We’ve got a lot to shout about: thanks to the remarkable creativity of our designers, the brilliant fashion and design colleges inspiring the next generation of talent and promoting a world-leading retail sector, covering the great British high street to bespoke and heritage labels. This diversity has made British style famous the world over. Brands such as Burberry and Barbour, and newer talents like Sophie Hulme and Charlotte Olympia, ensure that, as well as celebrating our past, we have our fashion eye firmly on the future.
“I want to ensure that everyone in the industry – from the one-person online boutique to our high street favourites – can create new work opportunities”
This is a vibrant sector and its value is increasing. The creative industries are now worth more than £84bn to our economy and fashion accounts for about a third of this. It is a huge driver of economic growth. At a time when we are seeing employment at a record high, there are almost 800,000 people in work up and down the country thanks to the fashion industry. With businesses spread across Britain, from knitwear and tweed in Scotland to a long tradition of leather goods in the Midlands, your industry is providing skilled jobs for local communities.
As employment minister, I want to ensure that everyone in the industry – from the one-person online boutique to our high street favourites – can create new work opportunities.
That is why this government has committed to creating three million more apprenticeships and is supporting work experience places where trainees are guaranteed a job interview after their placement, and that is across every sector in the economy.
Exporting is Great
As part of our move to get 100,000 new companies exporting by 2020, we have launched the Exporting is Great website, which hosts hundreds of live export opportunities to businesses across the country. Our trade advisors through UK Trade & Investment provide bespoke advice and expertise to support businesses at every step on their exporting journey, from initial interest to selling in market. Through programmes like our New Enterprise Allowance we have helped tens of thousands of jobseekers set up their own businesses, like fashion wholesaler and designer Jada Lynton from Birmingham. Lynton got practical and financial support to set up her business and is now launching her second collection selling through her website. Her future looks bright.
British brands are dominating the world and I want to congratulate you on everything you do to make Britain great and enhance our global reputation: pushing the boundaries creatively, innovating online and creating jobs for the people of Britain. You do what many small businesses do – working all hours to make a success of things. It is really exciting to see new talent like Shrimps and Caitlin Charles-Jones alongside more established designers like Temperley London and Anya Hindmarch.
London Fashion Week is the fashion week. I know for many of you this is both the most stressful and rewarding week of the year, so I wish you every success and hope that it generates strong orders and new opportunities.
Priti Patel is minister for employment