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British fashion faces challenges of pandemic and Brexit

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This year, instead of the front row and flashlights, London Fashion Week takes place throughout the weekend online, as a digital-only event.

Much has changed for the fashion world since the event of 2020 when CGTN Europe met stylist-turned-designer Deborah Latouche, who launched her “ modest fashion ” label Saborah on the runway. “I believe in the product, there is a huge gap in the market,” she said at the time.

When CGTN contacted her again this month as she prepared to list her brand in the show’s Emerging Creators category, Latouche described how the pandemic had affected her business.

“When the pandemic started, I had so many plans, so many things that you were supposed to do once you launched a brand and then all of a sudden I was home with my kids,” he said. she told CGTN Europe. .

“But actually I think it was really good because it gave me a lot of time to really think about how the brand is going to work for me and my family.”

Brexit issues

However, Latouche is not just facing the pandemic. She is worried about the impact of the changes brought by Brexit on her relations with the countries of the European Union.

Like the fishing, automotive and music industries in the UK, the fashion and textile sector is grappling with big changes in the way trade is done with the international market. nearest British.

“You have a variety of different issues, each of them is a perfect storm but all in all it’s nothing short of a tsunami, which could potentially wipe out the UK fashion industry “, warned Tamara Cincik, founder and CEO of the industrial group Fashion Round Table.

He recently sent an open letter to the UK government, signed by 455 brands and individuals, including designers Vivienne Westwood and Alice Temperley, as well as models and manufacturers.

Main streets in the UK are empty due to the current lockdown. / Catherine Drew

Main streets in the UK are empty due to the current lockdown. / Catherine Drew

Cincik said the fashion and textile industry, worth nearly $ 50 billion a year and employing nearly a million people, does not enjoy as wide coverage as others industries, eg fishing, which contributes much less to GDP.

Among the areas of concern are the end of the free movement of goods and people after Brexit. This creates additional paperwork, delays and expense, affecting everyone from small businesses to big brands and individual models and stylists.

The end of duty-free shopping for foreign tourists is another concern, especially for the luxury sector, and leaves the UK as the only European country not to offer this benefit. The fashion roundtable noted what it called an alarming shortage of garment workers and insisted that visas should be available for foreign workers, while efforts to train the workforce domestic should be continued.

So far, the UK government has not responded to the fashion roundtable, but insists it is actively seeking industry leaders to provide support and expertise in browsing the news. rules.

This means that, as this year’s London Fashion Week takes place, the UK fashion industry faces challenges many fear will cost it its influential role and reputation.

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