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Brexit’s Effect on the UK Fashion Industry

The British Fashion Industry is a major contributor to the UK economy, directly contributing £28.1 billion to the UK GDP in 2015 and employing an estimated 880,000 people.

According to figures published by the British Fashion Council, the value of the British Fashion Industry is on the rise. In fact, the value of the sector rose from £26 billion in 2013 to £28 billion in 2016, an impressive 8 percent increase. However, there are concerns that such growth could be stymied by Brexit, particularly if negotiations do not go well.

If Britain were to lose access to the EU single market as a result of Brexit, British businesses would likely face tariffs on their exported goods into other European countries. The British fashion industry, specifically, could face additional tariffs of more than $1 billion after Brexit.

For example, the Guardian estimated that the customs bill for non-knitted clothing exported from the UK to Italy could alone be $30.8 million per year. That could spell trouble for British firms that rely on exports to Italy to stay in business.

However, others are confident that the industry will be able to weather any storms caused by Brexit. “I’m not worried at all. I think London and British fashion is growing and I think that London is a great city for creativity and I think it’ll be absolutely fine,” fashion designer Anya Hindmarch told CNBC at London Fashion Week in late February.

Ultimately, Brexit’s true impact on the UK fashion industry will only become clear as negotiations proceed. A hard exit will mean more tariffs for the industry, whereas a soft exit, in which Britain still has access to the EU single market, may make things easier for the industry. Only time will tell how things will ultimately play out.

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Brexit’s Effect on the UK Fashion Industry


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