The essential link between fashion,
business, consumers and policy leaders.
Low-Level Letter Boxes – It is indicative of our peculiar Westminster system, that in a period dominated by uncertainty around Brexit and when Parliamentary time is so precious, that debating time was allocated to a discussion about changing the height of letter boxes. Fashion Roundtable has always tried to argue that Parliament will listen to fashion, as long as they shout loudly enough, and in the right direction. So if you’re reading this and you are frustrated, write to your MP with our help, and your message will be delivered (albeit it in a higher than usual letter box).
Approaching the end of November, we were posed with a difficult question: do we try and take the shocking events of that month and leave several unanswered questions going into December? Or do we batten down the hatches and review the end of year once the Christmas festivities have died down?
Furthermore, as we are well through the ‘100 days to go’ point, there are three self-perpetuating challenges that face the UK Parliament: there is no Parliamentary majority for the deal negotiated by the Government, there is no time or European appetite to renegotiate, Parliament has passed the bill to leave but hasn’t passed the bill that tells us how.
The build-up to the annual budget this year largely focused on whether this was going to be a Brexit emergency budget, or a business-as-usual budget. It proved to be the latter, but the Chancellor warned that in the event of a no-deal or a bad deal, it was likely a new budget would be required, with revised figures and targets. The Chancellor was not given an easy ride leading up to the announcement, as many in his party and in No.10 appeared to challenge some of his key messaging, but in general there was optimism about the proposals.
This article provides a fashion tint to the winners from this year’s budget.
“For fashion, the concerns remain around sourcing lower paid, skilled workers, whose wages fall below the £30,000 per annum wages bar of visa systems, such as Tier 2, to service the production of UK-made clothing and jewellery. Nonetheless, a more open engagement with non-EU migration is likely to improve the flexibility of workers and further entrench seasonal flows of labour.“
1) Protecting the UK High Street Supply Chain – we at Fashion Roundtable believe that the political debate about the high street needs to evolve from simply a question of protecting the stores and their consumers, to protecting the supply chain network that stocks them. Zara is a company that has made the decision to eradicate the risk of a complex supply chain and they are clearly benefitting. Because this is not a step all brands can take, we think the Government has a responsibility to provide supportive policies and to keep costs competitive.
2) Creative Industry Visas – we believe that it would be an important show of internationalism for the UK Government to look to create a Visa category that enables short term freedom of movement for all creative workers, into Britain. Giving Britain the opportunity to benefit from this labour would enrich our already strong domestic events and promotion market.
3) Sustainable Imports – Britain's departure from the EU could enable a dangerous dependency on cheap and unsustainable material imports in the fashion and textiles market. We think that there needs to be an effective rewards and regulatory environment protecting those producers making more expensive but sustainable production decisions, as is currently in place for organic goods.
We were pleased to see a surge in fashion-related debate in the Chamber, in May, but it has come at the price of silence in June. A key part of our work is ensuring fashion stays at the top of the political agenda. It is a sad indictment of our legislature that Foie Gras had more airtime than a multi-billion pound industry.
"The Government is considering a range of options for the future immigration system. We will build a comprehensive picture of the needs and interests of all parts of the UK, including different sectors, businesses and communities, and look to develop a system that works for all. We will make decisions on the future immigration system based on evidence and engagement. That is why we have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU. When building the new system, various aspects including the creative sector will be taken into account, to ensure the future immigration system works for sectors. We will set out proposals later this year."
APPG secures commons debate
The chair of the Fashion and Textiles APPG, Dr. Lisa Cameron, secured a debate in the commons with a minister from the Department for International Trade to discuss the impact of Brexit on the fashion and textiles industries. Whilst the substance of the debate was limited, it was good to see textiles advocate Barry Sheerman MP join with Dr Cameron in expressing the concerns we have raised through our work.
“If we have learnt anything from these elections then, it is that politics needs some disruption, an alteration to the status quo. If we do not stand up and allow our voice to be heard, we can be confident that the outcome from Brexit, will unlikely be in the form we wish.”
After the local elections, what do voters think about Brexit now?
Observations: Eszter Kantor - Division and Debate - Brexit and Trade
Fashion Roundtable In Conversation for SHOWstudio
Fashion Revolution #whomademyclothes
"Fishing delivers roughly £1.9bn to the UK economy, compared to fashion’s £29.7bn. Nonetheless, fashion is yet to have a debate dedicated to the industry, in the House of Commons, in two years. Which means fashion has not been debated during the entire EU referendum process. As aforementioned, fashion did have a debate in the Lords but it only lasted 8 minutes. Fishing, this month, had a debate dedicated to the subject in the Commons and it lasted almost an hour."
Trade Wars – The Threat of Isolationism is Beyond Political Rhetoric
Fashion mentioned for 8 minutes in a House of Lords debate.
Seasonal Migrant Workers
Observations: Navjyot Lehl - Division and Debate - What Has Happened in Brexit and Where Are We Now?
APPG For Textiles and Fashion Meeting at the Houses of Parliament: Fashion Trade with China.
Cars Versus Fashion
Gender Pay Gap
100 Years of Women's Suffrage
Observations: Eszter Kantor: US Denim - Division and Debate
Populism in Italy
Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace
HM The Queen Attends LFW
"It is also crucial, to ensure diversity that Parliament looks 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. Importantly, we also want to champion regional developments and will shortly be launching a challenge to MPs to meet with local textile and fashion companies and to nominate them for a ‘Best in the UK’ award."
Our Letter to MPs
Creative Gender Pay
Observations: Jack Tindale, Policy Connect - Division and Debate
Sufficient Progress with Brussels?
Social Mobility Commission Walks Out
Fashion mentioned in the House of Lords
Observations: Eszter Kantor: Fashion Roundtable's EU Politics Expert