Ever since news of the Britons planning to sever ties with the European Union (EU) rose to global consciousness, there have been lots of speculations on the ripple effect such a move will have on various sectors in the United Kingdom and the EU. Now a referendum has been made and the UK sits as one of the first nations to exit the European Union. Amidst various permutations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, one disturbing speculation stood out as a glaring fact – the negative ripple effect on the fashion industry. The fashion industry in the UK is anchored on bilateral cords with sister EU nations and relies on the avalanche of talent embedded on the citizens of the international community. So in the build-up to the D-day of the Brexit, while Prime Minister May is gearing up for the show, her fashion industry is reluctant to join her in the exit. The British fashion industry is rooting behind the EU with over 90 percent of its fashion designers voting on clinging to the European Union and on this we can’t help but peep into the implications of such divergent parts taken by the UK and her dear fashion industry.
There are some likelihoods in the fashion industry that will characterize the famous Brexit that has raised unsettling dust in the air ever since it was first conceived in 2016. Some of these likelihoods are:
Hard Brexit: Where all existing commercial bridges will be burnt, it means designers, manufacturers, and retailers would have to pay mind-boggling sums to ply their trade within the European Union. The consumers on the end of the supply chain will receive the biggest blow because tariffs will be added on clothing and footwear which is estimated to inflate up to about 11 percent, no doubt the price of one denim will threaten to go along with one arm and a leg.
Look at the next possibility
Soft Brexit: This softer possibility would give way to a free-trade relationship between EU countries. However, there’s a thick uncertainty lingering on the air about the nature of terms that would characterize this seemingly lighter fallout of Brexit. Most EU member states would demand certain latitude on their citizens in terms of business operations in the UK and more flexible taxation on their exports or even ruling out the taxations entirely. Amid that uncertainty, one thing is certain, prices of clothing are expected to flare up since the UK rely on other EU nations for raw materials to make their clothing and also depends on same EU nations to provide a safe harbor for their ships to export materials.
And the third possibility
The UK Still in the Customs Union: This would have cushioned the effect but Theresa May has already opted out of this route, so it virtually leaves the fashion industry of the UK on a steep cliff waiting for the D-day to just fall off unless there is some sort of salvation which we’d be looking forward to. A £28 billion sector is at the brink of a fatal tragedy and at the mercy of PM Theresa May, not to forget that the UK imports close to £10 billion worth of clothing and footwear from the European Union annually and the tons of staff from the EU member states working across various facets of fashion industry in Britain. Are you looking at an exodus? Let’s be realists for today, there’s going to be an exodus of EU staff.
So the influence this much anticipated Brexit will have on the fashion industry for both the EU and the UK will be quite terrific in the negative direction. Lots of fashion designers are already clamoring for the cancellation and demanding for a second referendum.
A Big Blow for Fashion Diversity
Chairman of the British Fashion Council Stephanie Phair has shared her concerns on the need for British breed talents to enjoy uninhibited access to international talents. The fusion of talents from across borders is one with very bright prospects for the fashion industry and Phair knows what’s at stake here. As the effect on the diversity of fashion talents is even more pronounced now than ever, the question lingers? Will the British survive the independence from international fashion moguls, remember Italy and France are in the picture.
Made in Britain Products, A Good Flip Side?
Brexit might, after all, come with a little positive side to it – the promotion of “made in Britain” products. After the exit, rigid terms of conditions on imports and exports might force the UK to start making all her fashion products herself and promoting local content. But, there is a problem. The staff; which are majorly from the EU nations, how do they intend handling them. Some are beginning to quit their jobs to show their aversion to the entire Brexit idea. Remember, the British even outsource manufacturing to industrial giants like India and China where it is cheaper so they rely heavily on foreign partnerships. Stricter immigration policies will be a thorn in the flesh of Brexit and they would have to start training their citizens in a fire brigade approach on manufacturing and the need for diversified investments.
Protection of Intellectual properties
How will fashion creations fare with Brexit? Most of these creations were done under the EU and assigned trademarks from the EU, will they now be reassigned to UK trademarks? This means that owners of UK registered trademarks will have to register and obtain another for the EU and the UK so they can successfully play their continental trade.
The Brexit saga is anti-fashion and in the uncertainty of the fallout, many are left at crossroads. Should they plan for alternatives or hope that it would not come to pass. The influence on the fashion industry will take years to recuperate and might forever change the fashion landscape of the European Continent. So in one simple answer to the question “how will Brexit influence the fashion industry? it’s a big “Negatively”.