Fashion week impacts: Brexit, climate change and tension with China
With the end of New York and London Fashion Week and the start of the Paris nine-day fashion marathon of its spring-summer shows we thought we'd have an overview of how fashion week and the industry itself has been affected by our ever-changing world.
At New York Fashion Week this year, we have seen designers respond to an ideological shift in the country as they delve deeper with the messages behind their designs. Some of the most poignant messages that were visible on the runway were "celebrating curvy bodies and every age of womanhood" and "the experience of being black in America."
Behind the scenes, escalating tension between American and China regarding trade tariffs created concerns as well as shifting economic and consumer behaviours affecting the fashion industry.
In an interview with Forbes, the founder of Decades, Cameron Silver said “NYFW and the fashion industry, in general, is in an existential crisis at present. The way younger generations consume in a shared economy is ultimately providing huge challenges and fashion shows no longer engage the same way with customers. Visceral connections with fashionistas remain one of the most effective ways to create transactional relationships. Consumers want to know the creators of the items they purchase and social media has created a platform that provides transparency and access.”
Here in London, the concerns are different but just as poignant as people worry about the risk that Brexit poses. London Fashion Week generates over £100 million annually in clothes orders and in the UK, the fashion industry is worth over £32 billion pounds and employs more than 10,000 European staff.
This is why Brexit sparks such a strong conversation in the fashion community. When we leave the EU, market sources are assuming a "designer exodus" as 90% of designers voted to Remain in the 2016 referendum. The BFC (British Fashion Council) stated that leaving the EU could cost the industry £900 million as a result of increases in tariffs on imports, manufacturers and materials.
London Fashion Week was also affected by worries over a climate emergency as Extinction Rebellion activities called for LFW to be cancelled entirely, pouring fake blood on the floor, creating a bleeding red carpet to draw attention to the negative effect the industry has had on the environment. PETA were also at LFW protesting as they condemned the industries relationship with leather, claiming that tanneries were one of the worlds biggest polluters. With Paris Fashion Week starting today, they too will be bracing for similar climate change and animal rights protests.