Prince Andrew called a summit of 13 fashion industry chiefs to explore ways to use his controversial role as UK trade envoy to boost the British industry’s standing overseas this week.
Nick Robertson, chief executive of etailer Asos, Dermott Rowan, managing director of premium womenswear brand Orla Kiely, Derek Lovelock, chairman of retail group Aurora Fashions, Peter Williams, co-founder of lifestyle chain Jack Wills, and Stephanie Phair, chief executive of etailer Net-a-Porter’s discount site The Outnet, were among those invited to Buckingham Palace for a discussion on Tuesday. British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman and chief executive Caroline Rush also attended.
It is thought Prince Andrew wanted to hear first-hand the challenges facing the fashion industry, and to learn more about the sector so he could better represent it overseas.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed the event took place but declined to give further details.
The meeting tallies with a growing awareness among upper echelons of the Government of the potential of the fashion industry to fuel economic growth, in terms of exporting finished goods and intellectual property, and developing the UK’s reputation as a worldwide centre for creative industries.
A source said: “[Prince Andrew] believes passionately in the importance of the creative industries for the UK economy, including the fashion and design industries.”
Prince Andrew was appointed trade envoy in 2001, but his suitability for the role has hit the headlines in recent months after he was criticised for his “cocky” attitude and his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender and financier.