Britain’s £35billion fashion and textile industry is confronting devastation as a consequence of red tape and travel restrictions erected by the new post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union. Recently over 400 foremost fashion figures have written a letter to caution Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Brexit was upsetting complex international supply chains of the fashion industry.
“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. Yet we have been disregarded in this deal and our concerns overlooked,” fashion experts say in the letter to Boris Johnson.
Adding, “without urgent attention these issues will jeopardise the immediate and long term future of the sector”.
Designer Katharine Hamnett said, “Many firms could be weeks away from going under. We need a radical overhaul of customs arrangements including VAT on all goods shipped into the EU by the end of February, or British brands will die.”
While Isabel Ettedgui, Chief Executive of fashion brand Connolly said, “The trade rules were turning the industry into a Brexit trading post.”
“The result could be the possible closure of a 185-year-old company that holds the Royal Warrant,” Ettedgui added.
Several of the 52,000 smaller companies that make up the spine of the UK’s fashion industry, could not have enough money the professional aid needed to steer the new controls, the letter added, with consumers on both sides of the English Channel refusing purchases because of unexpected VAT and tariff charges.
While fashion designer Katharine Hamnett said, “We need a radical overhaul of customs arrangements including VAT on all goods shipped into the EU by the end of February, or British brands will die.”
Helen Brocklebank, Chief Executive, Walpole said, “The luxury sector group whose members include Alexander McQueen and Burberry, said the government needed to simplify the post-Brexit trading regime and boost the retail tourist trade.”
While the UK govt. 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.”
More than 400 signatories call for ‘urgent action’ from the govt. to protect the fashion industry that is very split but is projected to be worth 1.6% of UK’s GDP, according to research by Oxford Economics for the British Fashion Council last year. By contrast the German industry is worth 0.8% of GDP.
The UK Cabinet Office said it was working carefully with businesses in the fashion industry to regulate to the new trading environment and was responsive that some businesses were facing challenges.