Britain’s decision to leave the EU has already had its impact on the country and has left millions feeling uncertain about their future. One industry that will suffer the devastating effect of this decision is the fashion industry; everyone from the designers to the consumers will notice a significant change. The British Fashion Council held a survey which revealed that 90% of its members wanted to remain in the EU. The result was a clear sign of how important the EU is to this industry, especially in Britain, and highlights the drastic changes that we could soon see.
Firstly, a weaker pound will affect many retailers who source produce from Europe and Asia, which will result in clothes becoming more expensive for the consumer. Buying produce in currencies other than the pound will now become a lot more expensive, as will importing and trading. This will increase the cost of manufacturing, which unfortunately will result in a trip to the high street becoming a lot more expensive.
One way to combat this could be to only buy clothes made in Britain, as a weaker pound could make the manufacturing process cheaper in British factories. However, this isn’t all good news.
Some luxury brands could see an increase in sales, but this does not mean an increase in profit. There could be an increase of European customers due to the weakness of the pound, which makes British clothes cheaper for those outside Britain. Unfortunately, this is not great news for the British retailers. Even though brands could begin to sell more products, every product now costs more to manufacture, which ultimately will result in a losses, not profits.
However, some have suggested than the increase in racism and xenophobic behaviour due to Brexit could reverse my previous point of Britain seeing an increase in foreign customers. It has been suggested that foreign shoppers, particularly from the Middle East, could feel less confident in coming to the UK to shop, out of fear of harassment. This could have a devastating effect on the fashion industry, as foreign visitors contribute huge amounts to British retailers’ profits.
If Brexit results in changes to immigration policies and our ability to travel freely, another aspect of the fashion industry could be severely impacted. It could become a lot more difficult for European designers and fashionistas to work in the UK, due to changes to travel and work visas. Conversely, it could become harder for British fashion graduates to work in Europe’s fashionable cities such as Paris and Milan.
However, British fashion students will be effected before they even get a chance to graduate. The EU funds many London fashion schools, therefore Brexit will have a severe impact on those looking to study various aspects of fashion, such as design or journalism.
It appears as though Brexit will deeply effect the fashion industry, in a myriad of ways. That being said, Fashion is a creative, ever-changing industry, and I don’t doubt that it will find ways to adapt and move forward during these uncertain times.