Will LFW survive when the UK leaves the EU?
The London Fashion Week has just ended, and the fashion world's already landed in Milan, but after these exciting days in the British capital, there is still a burning question:
Is there life after Brexit?
There has been a lot of speculation about the effects of Brexit in the fashion world, but despite all the uncertainties, many big names have come back to London. Riccardo Tisci, Burberry’s new creative director, brought the British iconic fashion house back to London with his debut collection, after almost two decades showing in Milan! Victoria Beckham showcased her label for the first time in London after ten years presenting in New York, just in time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her namesake brand, and after living ten years in New York, Alexa Chung decided to make her debut in London!
LFW and Brexit
In 2016, 90% of British fashion designers voted against Brexit, understandably, as global trade and free movement of talent is crucial to the industry. But the British Prime-Minister Theresa May, reminded them at an LFW-related event, of the new Exceptional Talent Visa that will allow brands to keep hiring internationally. The British Fashion Council’s message is clear: “London is open”.
Design rights and Brexit
One of the main problems of leaving the EU is that LFW will lose the design rights that companies have within Europe. This means that designers showing their collections first at LFW won’t have copyright protection once the UK leaves the EU and risk having their designs copied. This could force them to show first somewhere else, which would mean the end of LFW. The British government is of course already looking into this problem to find a solution. But considering that you usually find cheaper copies at the big high-streets shops soon after the collections are shown anywhere in the world, we’re not sure the copyright protection is very effective anyway.
Nobody knows for sure yet what to expect, but the BFC says that despite Brexit, in the past months there’s been an increase of sales and international brands continue to open stores in the UK. London is still considered to be the centre of creativity and commerce.
According to the fab mad hatter Stephen Jones, “If you are British and even though you try to be international and assume a European identity, there is always something which anchors you within a British sensibility, that means a balance between the love of the aristocratic and the love of the punk.” Indeed, the British sensibility and their distinct fashion, the talent, creativity, energy and spirit of adventure they are known for, is what makes LFW one of the most important Fashion Weeks in the world. And with young people from all over the world coming to study fashion at schools such as Central Saint Martins, London will remain open and stimulating to young local and international talent as usual.