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Dame Natalie Massenet Introduces LFW AW16


lfw natalie launch speechSpeaking at an industry and press briefing yesterday Natalie confirmed that she would continue as Chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) to enhance the BFC’s strategic plans. She spoke to BFC funders, patrons, sponsors and press at HIX restaurant in Soho, next door to the new home of London Fashion Week on Brewer Street Car Park:

‘Good morning and welcome. It has been 3 years since I first set out our vision to reposition British fashion in the global economy as one that champions Creativity, Innovation and Business.

We set out five clear pillars, run by six superb presidents and supported by committees made up of an incredibly strong network of volunteers to work alongside the British Fashion Council in our mission to make London the strongest and most exciting global fashion capital.

I strongly believe that we have achieved this, and more.

I would like to thank all of you that have been part of that mission. We are of course ambitious and there is much more to do. To support the incredible work done by Caroline Rush and the BFC team and many of you in this room I am delighted to be staying on for another year as Chairman. So this is not my final speech but it does give me a great opportunity to reflect on some of our significant successes.

It is exciting to see so much talk of a new focus on the consumer, a re-thinking of the platforms we can use to engage with them and an embracing of change. From the outset of my time as Chairman we have been championing opening up our world and sharing the experience – so many designers have supported that vision including Burberry’s recent news that shines such a strong light on our leadership in this field. We are very proud that this started in London.

We were the first capital to live stream our shows from our central venue in 2009 making London now a capital for Fashion and Technology. As an organisation we are fiercely proud of that reputation – FashTech is essential to growth in our sector and it keeps us well ahead of the competition.  

Living and breathing in the digital world informs everything that we do. As an organisation we amplify our events to a global audience through live streaming, social media and content distribution. This season we will be taking the world of London Fashion Week to outdoor digital screens in London and around the UK thanks to Ocean Outdoor and Land Securities (with viewing figures of beyond 37million people over the week). Our sponsor Sunglass Hut are powering content into over 3,000 of their global stores and giving our international guests an incredible welcome in Terminal 5. In addition to this, the majority of designers questioned in our recently conducted survey are now online compared with a much smaller numbers three years ago. 97% of our designers are on Instagram, 87% on Facebook and 86% on Twitter reaching millions of fashion fans across the world – importantly they are all starting to embrace e-commerce and via all of their social platforms engage with and listen to their customer.

At last official count our industry was worth £26billion to the UK economy and employed 800,000 people.That figure is growing as we speak with strong growth for British designers in all key markets worldwide. In order to measure our progress we conducted a survey in which 153 designers responded. We will now do this annually to benchmark our achievements, shout about the successes and look collectively at the challenges. Our designer survey shows that our micro businesses have grown by over 110% in the past three years and are forecasting a more ambitious growth plan for the next three years. Alongside our healthy designer sector we have just commissioned our next Value of Fashion update and look forward to presenting that to you in due course.

Of the 153 businesses that responded to our survey, the British Fashion Council has either directly or indirectly supported the majority of them. This week we will soft launch the first stage of our Designer Fact File, an online resource that will grow and develop over the next year to offer advice and information to many more businesses – I am delighted to say that over 2,000 businesses have already registered.

The growth in the designer sector and much of the insight on the Designer Fact File would not be possible without the support of many in this room. I would like to thank our Patrons, who are always at the heart of everything we do and are often the first to step in and support our programmes.

Topshop and Topman have been incredible supporters of young talent, Marks and Spencer support across all our events and are the founding partner of Positive Fashion, Amex have enabled consumer participation through our talk series.  

We are also thrilled that the Government has given us so much continued support, through ERDF, UKTI and the Mayor of London.

I would like to thank our generous event sponsors, many of whom have supported for years and Sunglass Hut who as principal sponsor have so quickly embraced our world and are creating extraordinary amplification opportunities for our designers.

In the next five days we will see over 240 designer businesses on schedule and in the Designer Showrooms.  We are very excited this season to welcome back Alexander McQueen and Mulberry to the London Fashion Week schedule.  

Our roster of designers is stronger than ever before both on the catwalk and at retail. I urge you all to visit Mount Street to see the incredible stores built by Christopher Kane, Erdem, Roksanda Ilincic and Simone Rocha as well as give your support to J.W.Anderson, Mary Katrantzou and our host of iconic accessory brands from Anya Hindmarch to Charlotte Olympia and Hill and Friends. London is really a hub of great designers producing stunning shows and even better shopping.     

All fashion eyes around the world are on our designers and recent red carpet triumphs amplify our reputation further. From the BAFTAS and GRAMMYS earlier this week to the BRITS next week, our designers are dominating the red carpets.

No doubt we will see more of that at the stellar line up of events over the next few days from Natalia Vodianova’s Fund Fair on Saturday to the Elle Style Awards on Tuesday. 

British Fashion is also being celebrated at one of our greatest institutions – The National Portrait Gallery – and I encourage you all to see the exhibition celebrating 100 years of British Vogue – it is a wonderful visual record of a century of great British talent.

I believe that London is really the greatest fashion capital in the world, the centre of creative talent, a hub of technological innovation and a vibrant business community – with Fashion Week at its creative and commercial heart – attended by thousands and watched by Millions worldwide.

Thank you all for being such a vital part of this powerful and important contributor to the British economy.’

Image of Caroline Rush CBE, Natalie Massenet and Anya Hindmarch MBE at the launch of LFW shot by Darren Gerrish, British Fashion Council.

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