Fashion Roundtable Calls On Industry and Politicians To Unite On Brexit
As the UK government seeks a delay to Article 50, Tamara Cincik CEO and Founder of Fashion Roundtable reveals why fashion has to be valued if Brand Britain is to survive Brexit.
“When we launched Fashion Roundtable the majority of politicians I spoke to thought the industry was just Kate Moss & catwalk shows and were more concerned about fisheries than fashion” Cincik says. “However after contacting each of the 650 MPs highlighting the reality of the UK Fashion Industry’s valuable contribution – generating over 890,000 jobs, nationwide and thousands of jobs and revenue to each of their constituencies – we’re now seeing politicians from across the parties, uniting to ensure that our industry maintains its status as a global soft power leader for the economy.”
Fashion Roundtable were the only organisation from inside the industry who surveyed the fashion sector to publish a Brexit Paper on the first anniversary of the triggering of Article 50 (almost one year ago). With the clock ticking down, we asked key voices of the industry to share their concerns about the delays, the political landscape and consequences for their businesses.
Mia Wallenius, Director, Klaus Haapaniemi, a lifestyle, interiors and fashion company: “The main reason we are leaving the UK is the uncertainty of what happens after the Brexit. We started 9-years ago in London, where we have a wonderful loyal customer base and press following in UK, that has helped us to grow also globally. But the majority of our customers are in the EU and they just wouldn’t order our products if they had to pay customs. Our European wholesalers have made it clear too, that our products would be too expensive for them including custom tariffs. The past two years have already been difficult with sterling going down and UK consumers being more cautious. Instead of waiting to see how it will all turn out and affect us, we found it easier and less stressful to move all of our business to EU. At the moment we print all our fabrics in UK and manufacture fashion and home products in Estonia, we have already looked for alternative printing factories in EU to avoid paying customs for our materials being shipped to factory where the products are made. Brexit really has made it impossible for us to stay.”
For a flourishing independent shop and retail business to decide to leave the UK their shop in London’s iconic Shoreditch, their UK manufacturers and of course their domicile taxation, is worrying as fashion faces the on-going political confusions head on.
Jenny Holloway CEO of Fashion Enter/FashionCapital, a manufacturing and educational hub in North London, explains what she would like to see for the public and the industry and why her company in spite of Brexit uncertainties, has decided to stay and indeed expand into exportation options to the EU.
“Fashion Enter have to forge our own way forward and absorb calculated risks. We are investing six figure sums into new plant and machinery thanks to the Good Growth Fund and our Tailoring Academy is now underway. This is to train up a new generation of stitchers and skilled technicians as Brexit has seen the end of skilled labour from Eastern Europe. We have launched our own range with the sole aim of export – we have never exported before, but we now have our first account in Spain.”
In light of the People’s Vote March on Saturday and in alignment with 96% of the fashion industry who voted Remain in the EU referendum and wish to have their say, designer Katharine Hamnett CBE said:
“We have to have a second referendum, with expats allowed to vote just to check that Brexit is still what the majority of British citizens still want. More democracy is not undemocratic. It is even undemocratic to suggest that it is. Britain should field candidates for the European Elections in May, just in case the Referendum result is Remain. The government should ask the EU for an extension of Article 50 for 6 months to facilitate this, as this is how long it takes to get a referendum organised and it should also be asking for an optional second 6 months to be able to properly prepare in case the referendum result is Leave. If the EU refuses, Britain should repeal Article 50, hold the referendum, and re-instate Article 50 for 6 months after the referendum if the country votes Leave.”
Nearly two years since Article 50 was triggered, one year since we published our Fashion and Brexit Paper and with just over a week until the UK is due to leave the EU, Fashion Roundtable call on all sides to finally come together to find a solution which is viable for business, prevents a talent exodus and listens to our evidence on implications for optimum outcomes.
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