The industry is crucial to our economy and Government must have a clear understanding of the policies needed to ensure jobs and livelihoods, sustainability and to maintain best practice. We must consider ethical design, diversity within the industry, support regional growth alongside international trade and of course, navigate the impact of Brexit.
We are delighted therefore to have Dr Lisa Cameron MP take up the role of Chairing the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion during this crucial period, one of its most successful, yet challenging eras. Graduate Fashion Week showcased in Parliament in November 2018, with a celebration of the immense talent of our up and coming designers from across the UK. It was enlightening to meet and to discuss pertinent issues with the graduates, many of whom use locally sourced textiles and materials and all of whom are influenced by our rich culture and heritage in their design.
These UK trained talents, will go on to work in Fashion Houses across the globe, championing the international footprint of the UK industry and working alongside iconic UK brands like Burberry, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Pringle and Harris Tweed. Whilst it is true that the strength of the textile and fashion sector has meant record increased sales since the Brexit vote, this is believed to be attributable largely to the weakness of UK sterling.
Many crucial issues remain unanswered that may have a significant bearing on the future of the industry including the arrangement for EU students within our fashion colleges, visa requirements for our graduates who seek employment in major EU design houses, the impact of restrictions on freedom of movement for work placements/internships not to mention its impact upon manufacturing costs, trade and movement of our goods. It is critical therefore that policy negotiations work with industry to ensure long term sustainability of jobs, livelihoods and this significant contribution to our economy.
One of the main tasks of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion is going forward delineating the challenge of Brexit alongside supporting and championing new design, business development, manufacturing, and trade. It is widely recognised that the industry reaches much further than itself into many other creative industries, the service industry, transportation, innovation, and technology spheres. Any retrograde steps will have a knock-on effect for our full economy. It is crucial to ensure diversity and we will be looking at who is making that happen in the textile and fashion world – in terms of inclusion for disabled people, ethnicity, fashion across the lifespan and healthy body image.
Fundamentally, we will be working to promote the industry’s progression and ensure that its’ future contribution, of which we all are proud, remains sustainable, successful and world-leading.