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Time to show us the money, Vaizey

Jessica Brown

Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture, demonstrated his enthusiasm for the fashion sector at the 10th Drapers Fashion Summit this week, claiming he wants “to support the fashion industry” and that he “tends to be the type of minister that likes to get out a cheque book”. But enthusiasm on its own isn’t enough.

Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture, demonstrated his enthusiasm for the fashion sector at the 10th Drapers Fashion Summit this week, claiming he wants “to support the fashion industry” and that he “tends to be the type of minister that likes to get out a cheque book”. But enthusiasm on its own isn’t enough.

Citing the British Fashion Council’s recent report into the value of the industry to UK plc (£20.9bn), Vaizey smiled at the 200 delegates, saying he intended to champion British clothing manufacturing, talk up the likes of billion-pound Burberry and rising London Fashion Week stars like Erdem, and also stated his intention to “ensure fashion attracts the best talent”.

Just how he intends to do that remains as opaque as the 60 denier tights that women have pulled on during this cold snap.

The minister could not confirm to Drapers whether LFW would receive any government funding beyond February, claiming that talks with the Treasury were “ongoing”. Rather ominously he said LFW was always intended to become “self-sustaining”, before going on to say fashion was the Government’s “dream sector” because it “didn’t ask for much”.

This doesn’t fill me with confidence. LFW’s monetary value is a drop in the ocean to the sector as a whole, but I agreed with New Look chief executive Carl McPhail when he said at the Summit that the effect of LFW on global consumer interest in British fashion is huge. It is essential that, given its recent revival, LFW is protected long term.

On a lighter note, Vaizey would not pick out who he would like to see design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Whoever does get the gig (and I’d love to see a smaller British name score over a traditional couturier) will receive massive global exposure. For the rest of us, a royal wedding could be just what we need to give the economy a leg up.

Jessica Brown Editor

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