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Brexit, business and innovation kick off LFW

The British Fashion Council (BFC) urged the government to seek a Brexit deal that would “guarantee healthy and steady growth of [the fashion] industry” at the opening of London Fashion Week this morning, as it launched a range of industry initiatives. 

BFC chair Stephanie Phair joined CEO Caroline Rush and positive fashion ambassador Adwoa Aboah to open the September 2019 edition at 180 The Strand. 

Phair kicked off proceedings with a plea to the government: “Give access to much-needed funding that would help create the stimulus for British designer businesses to remain competitive internationally, through trading agreements, access to finance, free movement of talent and support for promotions.” 

She stressed that the BFC has engaged with the government since the Brexit referendum vote and called for this to continue to “translate [possible Brexit scenarios] into what it means for the industry and the best way to navigate these global trade challenges.” The BFC held a seminar for designers last week on preparing for a no-deal Brexit, to help identify the risk and challenges. 

Phair shared her vision of “ensuring that we future-proof and build sustainability in our industry through talent”, and announced new business education and arts education initiatives. 

Next month the Fashion Studio Apprenticeship will launch, intended to open new pathways to the luxury fashion sector other than through university. Today marked the launch of the Future Leader’s Initiative, a partnership between the BFC and London Business School. It includes a new scholarship for a business MBA student and placement for an MBA graduate within the industry. 

“It is a successful relationship between creative and business that is the alchemy to success,” said Phair. “We should see the BFC as the vehicle to not only creative and innovative potential but also to take our fashion businesses to the next level and help further reinforce British fashion’s position on the international map.”

Last year the BFC Education Foundation increased its scholarships from 11 to 21, taking its total financial commitment to students from £127,000 to £200,000. 

The 180 The Strand venue will also house the debut of the BFC’s Positive Fashion exhibition this season. It champions progressive designers tackling sustainability and ethics.

This year marks the first time that London Fashion Week has been opened to the public. Tickets were available to purchase for the shows of Alexa Chung, Self-Portrait and House of Holland. 

Phair explained: “We are committed to looking at the purpose and role of fashion weeks, and by opening the event to the public for the very first time we are allowing our designers to broaden their audience and reach.”

Today also marked the launch of the first BFC Mentoring Scheme. Five industry figures have been selected to mentor one young person for a period of five months from October.  Applicants above the age of 18 can apply through the BFC website. 

London Fashion week will take place on 13-17 September. 




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