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Brexit kills British fashion, says top designer Katharine Hamnett

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“The post-Brexit trade deal is a disaster for the UK fashion industry and it could kill ‘Made in Britain’.”

The blunt warning from seasoned British designer Katharine Hamnett comes as the fashion industry gathers online for London Fashion Week this weekend.

Hamnett is known for his slogan t-shirts, first released in 1983, which have since been sported by pop star George Michael in his Wham! days, supermodel Naomi Campbell and Roger Taylor of the group Queen.

Hamnett’s fashion is fueled by political activism and sustainability. However, like the rest of the UK fashion scene, its concerns have recently turned to Brexit and its devastating impact on the country, which has left a mark on the global garment industry.

“Britain has always been at the forefront of manufacturing and fabrics and producing fleets of the world’s best designers who still work across the globe at all levels of industry,” says Hamnett , citing famous designers such as Phoebe Philo and Alexander McQueen.

British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has made waves with her trendy t-shirts. / CGTN

British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has made waves with her trendy t-shirts. / CGTN

The ethical designer added that the cream of the world’s creators are from Great Britain, but that they are “hampered by ridiculous restrictions on being able to perform the work and bring back the money they earn in the UK. United in the form of taxes “.

Hamnett explains that some of the problems Brexit poses for the country’s fashion designers include restricting travel and increasing VAT charges, which she says is “slaughtering UK exports” to the point that “some brands have even given up. to be exported ”.

The seasoned designer also draws comparisons with the UK fishing industry which, despite being a sixth the size of the fashion industry, has received a $ 32.1million package from the government. If a similar option were to be offered to the fashion industry, it would have to be $ 907 million, she argues.

“We [the fashion industry] are ignored, ”says Hamnett.

The UK fashion industry generates more than $ 49 billion a year, employs a million people and, in Hamnett’s words, “gets its throat cut” by Brexit regulations and tough export processes, which have already prompted many British fashion houses to settle in the EU. .

“I know you have to export at least half of your production, mainly to Europe actually, to be able to survive as a fashion brand,” says the designer.

“It’s taken away from people – the freedom of movement of fashion professionals, whether they are English working abroad, whether they are foreigners coming to the UK to help in the garment industry, that is completely massacred.

“The post-Brexit trade deal is a disaster for the UK fashion industry and it could kill the ‘Made in Britain’ which in Japan and South East Asia is considered a supreme brand of quality. dead stone. “

Many icons of the UK fashion industry are taking matters into their own hands and more than 400 personalities, including Hamnett, have signed an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that post-Brexit restrictions threaten their survival.

The letter says that “without urgent attention these issues will put the immediate and long-term future of the industry at risk” and that the Brexit trade deal did not promise future frictionless trade.

While concerns expressed by the fashion industry are similar to those also expressed in the music, fishing and automotive sectors, the letter also highlights the economic value of the UK fashion industry of world renowned for the country’s economy, contributing more financially than the three combined.

Looking ahead, Hamnett says: “We really need the business rules to be completely rewritten or we won’t have a ‘Made in Britain’ fashion business.”

Video editor: Sam Cordell

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