The fashion world must put on a “united” front in the wake of Brexit and divisive politics around the globe to prove that London is a city of “openness” and “multiculturalism”, an industry chief urged today.
As the biggest names in fashion descend on the capital for London Fashion Week, Caroline Rush, head of the British Fashion Council, said while the weak pound had boosted “shopping and spending”, she was concerned about the wider impact the referendum vote could have.
She said she “very much hoped” London would remain a centre for fashion and creative arts but insisted “unity was key” in times of “uncertainty”.
The BFC chief executive said: “I very much hope that Brexit will make no difference. London is very culturally open. We are known for that around the world. We have to, above all else, ensure that message of openness and unity is heard and resonates. As long as we continue to be culturally open, I hope we continue to attract the level of international talent we have done for years.” Asked if London was an “unstoppable” fashion force despite Brexit, she said: “I very much hope that is the case.”
Five thousand guests — including press and buyers from more than 49 countries — are expected to attend Fashion Week, which runs until Tuesday at The Store Studios off the Strand. There will be 51 catwalk shows and 32 presentations, with 50 per cent of the designers on show born outside the UK.
Rush said unity was also an important way of standing up to the Trump administration, adding: “Fashion wants to show that we are united and we are as one. London is one of the most diverse and multicultural cities on Earth. We want to show that off.”
Opening London Fashion Week this morning Natalie Massenet, chairwoman of the British Fashion Council, announced the BFC’s support of the Business of Fashion’s Tied Together campaign, calling on all involved in LFW to wear a white bandana on their wrist to show unity and togetherness in “a time of political uncertainty”.
Dame Natalie said: “We are here to kick off London Fashion Week and to celebrate the collections and showcase creativity turning the wheels of our fashion business.
“In a time of political uncertainty, that creativity will be channelled into fashion statements of a different kind. It is an understatement to say that we are living in a time of upheaval. We are seeing seismic political changes, not just here with Brexit, but in the US and in Europe. Change can be challenging at times but in this time of extraordinary innovation, we will thrive.”
She added: “Putting a spotlight on creative businesses at London Fashion Week is essential. Creativity, innovation and business but also inclusiveness are at the heart of British fashion.
“This is the start of London Fashion Week where all eyes are on London. We encourage the industry to show the world we stand for inclusivity and humility. Let’s make some positive fashion statements together.”