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Today London, tomorrow the world?

Caroline Nodder

Samantha Cameron told the assembled fashion dignitaries at this season’s Number 10 reception that some international buyers had committed up to 70% of their budgets at London Fashion Week.

Samantha Cameron told the assembled fashion dignitaries at this season’s Number 10 reception that some international buyers had committed up to 70% of their budgets at London Fashion Week.

That is a major indication of the level of global prominence the UK’s premier fashion event has now achieved, and a sign that it garners respect where once it was looked down on and ridiculed as a young upstart by those supporting longer-standing events in Paris and New York.

Speaking to some of those at the Number 10 event, I got a real sense of optimism and excitement about what the future might hold for UK fashion – but also the sense there is a need to see some practical wins, some government backing and some long-term benefits from all the hot air that gets bandied around about the various collections. There is no doubt this season’s collections were particularly stunning and had more buyer appeal than ever – premium and grown-up were words used a lot as Newgen designers like Mary Katrantzou proved they are real international contenders.

But in addition to this coming of age, there is the opportunity for the industry to use the attention it has won for its own gain.

I learned at the event that the British Fashion Council is already looking at growing its Newgen programme with mentors and links with international retailers helping to win UK designers global business. There is also talk of bringing UK manufacturing under the same umbrella, helping designers to partner with manufacturers to keep the virtuous circle of UK design and production and win export sales.

It is in the Government’s interest to back such a programme. Those export sales are crucial to UK growth.  Let’s hope the many politicians at the event – George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and the Prime Minister himself were all there – are willing to back this winner. 

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