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Weighing up the true value of luxury

Jessica Brown

From Marc Jacobs’ 1970s glamour collection to Tom Ford’s secretive womenswear comeback, New York Fashion Week opened the international catwalk calendar with as many talking points as it did trends for spring 11.

From Marc Jacobs’ 1970s glamour collection to Tom Ford’s secretive womenswear comeback, New York Fashion Week opened the international catwalk calendar with as many talking points as it did trends for spring 11. But beyond all the glitz and glamour, what relevance do designer and luxury fashion houses have to the UK market? According to a report commissioned by London Fashion Week organiser the British Fashion Council, the answer is a lot - £21bn worth in fact.

This is the first time anyone has tried to put a figure on the worth of the UK fashion sector to the UK economy and, while some of the BFC’s methodology and conclusions need to be challenged and researched further, it should be applauded for attempting to put a definitive value on the sector and its contribution. It will be essential in persuading the Government to continue to support events such as LFW and to back UK brands and manufacturing on both the domestic and export fronts.

What we need now is for bodies such as the BFC and UKFT and their members to identify how to spend any future cash that comes fashion’s way wisely.
London Fashion Week opens today and while catwalk designer Ozwald Boateng (p28) may have a point when he says that the British shopper doesn’t really “get” the luxury market, the event does as much to promote the unique fast-fashion offer of the British high street as it does its designers.

Perhaps those designers need to look to the likes of Tom Ford, who has withheld all photos of his collection until January to reduce the risk of high street copycats. Burberry has devised a similarly interesting strategy by enabling shoppers to buy designs straight off its catwalk. Both could be industry-changing strategies for the designer sector.


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