UK Fashion Industry at Risk to be Destroyed over Brexit Trade Deal
It has been almost a year since the United Kingdom officially left the European Union, and the nation’s creative industries are suffering. At the beginning of the year, the UK government didn’t allow musicians to tour in EU countries without a visa. More than 300 thousand people signed a petition to get the parliament to revise the policy, and celebrities, as well as people in the business, shared their opinion and criticized this policy. The film and television industries are affected and they are expected to suffer consequences as the realities of Brexit start to take effect.
Now, the British fashion and textile industry are facing “decimation”, as a result of the travel restrictions introduced by the new post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union. The members of this industry are rallying together in order to try and prevent any further damage that may be induced because of Brexit.
In an open letter to the UK prime minister, icons and chief executives, including models Twiggy and Yasmin Le Bon, and designer Katharine Hamnett, state that Brexit is strangling the complex international supply chains and relationships that support their industry. It is said that the UK’s 35 billion pound industry is facing destruction and that prime minister Boris Johnson has been warned.
“The deal done with the EU has [left] a gaping hole where promised free movement for goods and services for all creatives, including the fashion and textiles sector, should be. The wealth of these creative industries is in our ability to move and change quickly. For once we need to be listened to and for the government to work with us before it is too late.”
In the letter, it is stated that this industry is dependent on international relationships, including shipping, fabric manufacturing, working abroad, and customs charges. Even though this industry employs more than a million people and contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy, there are no structures put that will help the fashion and textile sector.
It has been stated that other sectors, like the fishing industry, “contribute as much to the UK economy as East London alone does from the fashion and textile industry”, and they have been offered packages as high as 20 million pounds to handle exports, and the fashion and textile sector has been left empty-handed.
Critical workers and those who are working in the film sector have been offered exemptions so they can be allowed to travel without visas, however, models, make-up artists, and hairdressers have not been granted the same treatment. People who are a crucial part of the industry need to get a visa to be able to leave the UK and travel to countries that are part of the European Union.
Representatives of the music and film sectors have been invited to have a meeting with the government, while representatives of the biggest industry in the UK are still waiting for their invitation.
The fashion industry is facing an uncertain future that is getting more difficult by the day, not only because of Brexit but also because of the ongoing pandemic. Big names who have signed the letter include designers Bethany Williams and Phoebe English.
The open letter is expected to be presented to the government next week. A government spokesperson said:
“We are working closely with businesses in the fashion industry to ensure they get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe and seize new opportunities as we strike trade deals with the world’s fastest-growing markets. We are aware that some businesses are facing challenges with specific aspects of our new trading relationship with the EU. To this end, we are operating export helplines, running webinars with policy experts, and offering businesses support via our network of 300 international trade advisers. This is on top of the millions we have invested to expand the customs intermediaries sector.”