The United Kingdoms (UK) fashion and textile industry is worth £35 billion, and it is facing “decimation” according to an open letter sent to the UK Prime Minister. The letter was sent by over 400 leading figures within the industry and states that the industry faces “decimation” due to the bureaucracy and travel restrictions created by the new post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union (EU).
It was said that the ability to travel freely in the EU for work was vital to the industry as models could be assigned to a photoshoot with just a few hours’ notice. “The wealth of these creative industries is in our ability to move and change quickly”.
Samantha Cameron (wife of previous prime minister David Cameron) said that her fashion business was finding trading with the EU, post-Brexit “challenging and difficult”. The letter states that many of the 52,000 smaller businesses could not afford the professional assistance needed to navigate the new controls. Customers in the UK and EU have been rejecting purchases due to unforeseen tariff and VAT charges.
The chief executive of Walpole, Helen Brocklebank stated that “with 42% of all British luxury sales coming from the EU, the costs and administrative burdens of trading in continental Europe mean many of our members have concluded they simply cannot afford to continue selling to those countries”. Walpole is a luxury sector group whose members include Burberry and Alexander McQueen.
The chief executive of Connolly (Savile Row fashion brand), Isabel Ettedgui stated that the financial consequences of Brexit could be existential. “The result could be the possible closure of a 185-year-old company that holds the Royal Warrant”.
The 400 plus signatories have demanded “urgent action” from the government to protect the industry.