Into the void

What would Brexit mean for London’s fashion industry?
By Tempe Nakiska | Current affairs | 23 June 2016

Backstage at Charles Jeffrey SS17 photography Harry Clark

Top image: Charles Jeffrey SS17 backstage, photography Harry Clark

Today, Britain votes as to whether or not the UK should remain a part of the European Union. It’s one of the most major political decisions we’ll ever have to make, and one that’s sent the country into chaos in the weeks leading up to the referendum.

We’ve watched UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage lead a pro-Brexit flotilla of fishing boats up the Thames, only to be met by Bob Geldof’s on-water Remain rally. We’ve seen millions of young Londoners take to Trafalgar Square to protest Brexit. And on a slightly smaller, but no less relevant scale, we’ve watched designers like Charles Jeffrey, Christopher Shannon and Lou Dalton cast their SS17 collections (or models’ faces, in Jeffrey’s case) in red, white and blue as a reminder of the looming referendum. Designer Daniel W. Fletcher took it a level up, even staging his own rally outside London men’s fashion week a fortnight ago.

This decision is important on so many levels, from sovereignty and immigration to the economy – and culture. But actions like Fletcher’s bring home the impact of the vote on the UK’s fashion industry, especially for small businesses (ie. designers) reliant on the trade deals the EU currently holds with 52 countries. It’s a big deal. Just take the fact that the majority 90% of UK fashion designer businesses stated their preference to remain in the EU in a vote conducted by the British Fashion Council during London Collections: Men.

Digging a little deeper, we wondered what these individuals are thinking. So this week, we asked London designers their thoughts on the referendum, how they will be voting, and why. Have a read, and don’t forget to vote.


Lou Dalton

“I’m voting IN, because as an owner of a small/medium enterprise I’m principally concerned with the potential outcome an exit will have on my business. The uncertainty of a future outside of the EU is likely to have a significant impact on the market, reducing confidence in the short term and could threaten future stability.”

“This is a once in a generation opportunity, the result of which will leave a legacy that will last for generations. Therefore everybody needs to use their vote for what is likely to be the most significant political decision they will ever get to make. Whatever the outcome this will determine the long term future for this country.”

Read the full interview with Lou Dalton.

Daniel W. Fletcher

We cannot ignore the financial implications of a vote to leave, with nearly all of the top financial advisors in the world telling us the British economy will suffer if trade and other economic links with the EU are severed. However for me, the cultural blow to our country would be one of the biggest consequences. Alongside Europe we are a more creative, open minded and imaginative nation and our global creative success would be severely weakened by removing the cross-cultural mix EU membership brings through freedom of movement and vital arts funding.”

Read the full interview with Daniel W. Fletcher. 

Daniel Fletcher SS17 LCM ‘STAY’ rally

Christopher Shannon

“[The biggest consequence at stake from the vote] is that Europe hates Britain more than it does already, and that future generations don’t have the benefits of European rights which in many cases are more progressive than UK ones. Also do people really think that when we leave some giant golden wall will rise around the country and there will be palaces for everyone?  I work in a international business, my team and my colleagues are from all over the world as are our customers.”

“There is nothing beneficial for fashion as an industry to leave the EU.”

Read the full interview with Christopher Shannon. 

Phoebe English

“If we leave, we’ll be divided on humanitarian fronts. The refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis since the last world war, being a divided Europe when something as atrocious as this is happening would be a disaster for these people. We have to stand and work together as a joined Europe to help this awful situation which is so vast it will be going on for our entire lifetime.”

Read the full interview with Phoebe English. 

Matthew Miller

“I think my generation needs to understand that this vote will affect us the most, we will have to live with the consequences far longer than any of the older generations. The baby boomer generation have their houses, pensions and education. And now they want to ruin the one last thing! One last thing to take away! They’ve ruined the housing market, destroyed any kind of social mobility through the commodification of education and now they want out of the EU. Our united Europe! A free Europe! With no borders!”

“The baby boomers can go and fuck themselves!”

Read the full interview with Matthew Miller. 


“The EU has been at the forefront of human rights and is there to fight prejudice and unfair treatment. OK we agree that perhaps it needs a shake up and that we are looking at things with very EU rose-tinted spectacles but like any relationship worth being in it takes communication from both sides, this is our time to say, “Wait, this works but this doesn’t.” We are already a fragile world when it comes to democracy, why destabilise ourselves further?”

“Should we leave there naturally will be a destabilisation of the pound. There will be business who will have no choice but to move out of the UK. Whether we like it or not there will be the inability to move freely and trade freely with EU countries which, on a very personal level for a small fashion business trading and selling in Europe, is a real worry.”

Read the full interview with Sibling. 

The referendum takes place today, 23rd June, between 07:00 and 22:00 BST. Counting will run overnight until the final result is declared. 

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