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Fashion Roundtable submitted a response to the Parliamentary Inquiry on the Sustainability of the fashion industry, for the Environmental Audit Committee chaired by Mary Creagh MP. This “investigates the social and environmental impact of disposable ‘fast fashion’ and the wider clothing industry. The inquiry examines the carbon, resource use and water footprint of clothing throughout its lifecycle. It will look at how clothes can be recycled, and waste and pollution reduced.”
The fashion industry will also be influenced by the UK’s future industrial and international trade policies. The British Government is very keen to agree new trade agreements outside the EU; the nature of these could vary significantly for the fashion industry. For example, a trade agreement with the USA could be beneficial to trade in fashion services but currently looks unlikely due to the focus of US policy. Another possibility is that the UK agrees a comprehensive deal with India or China. This could benefit British designers who may gain access to cheaper textiles imports but could further hurt UK manufacturing due to the availability of cheaper labour and lower labour standards in these countries.
A year from #metoo and #aidtoo we have to understand the impacts that women feel across all areas of policy. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, has confirmed that some families will be worse off with Universal Credit. Every year we know that from the end of October women are working for free compared to men. The austerity programme introduced in 2008 by Cameron has impacted women 86% than men. With female homelessness on the rise at one end, and the10% difference in male and female graduate employment we need to understand what is happening and why women are still more negatively impacted men?
I attended the Gender and Politics Conference by The UK in a Changing Europe to learn what experts were thinking about how these issues will manifest after Brexit.
The US President is the news we wake up to most days and the Tweets we read on the way to work. Donald Trump’s use of social media and choice of team and family members to lead his Republican Presidency have been as unusual as the US choosing a multiple bankrupt TV star facing multiple sexual abuse allegations, with no political experience, to enter the White House. What are the President’s powers and why does who control the vote in the Senate matter? Why does who he chooses for the Supreme Court and what does this mean to important legislature such as Roe Versus Wade, US Trade Deals or global relationships?
Fashion’s Dirty Secret: Stacey Dooley Investigates (BBC One) reveals the extent of damage caused by the ever-growing consumer demand for fast fashion. There have been recent claims that the fashion industry is one of the top five most-polluting industries in the world, alongside the oil industry. Investigative journalist, Stacey Dooley first set out to explore how the cotton industry has turned the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan into an arid desert. Up until 1960, the Aral Sea was filled with wildlife but the rivers sustaining this life were then diverted to provide water for cotton farms. ‘An area of water nearly the size of Ireland has disappeared in four decades,’ explained Stacey. ‘I had no idea that cotton was capable of this. It’s also a really unsustainable crop, and uses more water than any other fibre – just one pair of jeans requires 15,523 litres of water!
Last month Marks & Spencer was hailed as ground-breaking following the launch of its new adaptive clothing range for children with disabilities. The “Adapted for Easy Dressing” line includes everything from trousers and shorts with poppers (instead of zips), T-shirts with soft velcro fastenings at the back of the neck and dresses with discreet pockets for a feeding tube.
Brexit: Next leads the way as the retailer to prepare for the potential impacts caused by the UK’s divorce from the EU, and brands are beginning to understand the impacts of boarder controls and traffic jams that may result from those. The rise and expansion of modest fashion opens a new market and challenges fashion stereotypes and retail experiences a post summer slump. Tensions escalate between the US and China, and ECB warns against the harms of a trade-war.
With the UK due to officially leave the EU on March 29th 2019, we now have less than 6 months to not only fully understand how the EU works, but what it does for those on the inside and what effects not being at the decision making tables at the European Parliament in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg will mean for the UK. Did you even know that the EU meets in not one, not two but three cities across Western Europe, with meetings for the whole Parliament taking place in Brussels and Strasbourg and admin being done primarily in Luxembourg? Second only to India for the size of the electorate, the power and impact of the EU cannot be underestimated. Educational programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus and key to its value, with the former acting as the largest EU Research and Innovation (R&I) programme with over €80bn of funding over 7 years between 2014 – 2020. The sheer power of this as an economic driver for advances in science, medicine, tech and the creative industries cannot be underestimated, creating a genuine single market for knowledge, business opportunity as well as R & I.
28 countries across Europe, soon to be 27, with a shared agenda across finances, IP and sustainable initiatives, creates a powerful trading bloc which represents over 500m people.
“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.“
Last Monday, I was invited to Brussels by The British Council and the European Cultural Foundation, where along with more than 60 other leading experts from the cultural and creative sectors, we met at Bozar, The Centre For Fine Arts Brussels, to discuss, workshop and then submit urgent concerns to Brexit negotiators. These focused on mobility, funding and partnerships and the legal questions facing the future relationship between the UK and the EU in a post Brexit landscape.
Last week, Fashion Roundtable began our series, demystifying the at times, bewildering world of politics with A Fashionista’s Guide To Politics. Politics determines not just the big stuff: whether a country is or isn’t inside the EU, goes to war, or has the death sentence as part of its penal code. It also determines the things we take for granted: whether you have to pay for school lunches, or child’s nursery school, when you can collect your pension (and whether they will even exist when you reach pension age. There isn’t a single issue which doesn’t get raised by campaigners and activists, by lobbyists and policy makers, which doesn’t get debated and then decided upon across local and national government. If there is something you feel strongly about, there is a real chance that others do too. Fashion Roundtable believe strongly that by breaking down the echo chambers of fashion and politics, our hopes and dreams, as well as concerns and worries, will be heard by those whose votes decide so much of our lives.
Brexit and LFW never fail to surprise - last week the fuss was all about the new developments of fashion and in politics. Not so surprisingly, the week also brought more evidence of the troubling landscape in the retail sector, with John Lewis experiencing a drop in weekly fashion sales and Orla Kiely closing down stores in London and Ireland. On the other hand, online retailers are experiencing a boost of confidence, with Farfetch completing its IPO in the New York Stock Exchange and Boohoo experiencing a change in management with a new CEO.
At first glance, politics and fashion are polar opposites, and political affairs may seem irrelevant to someone in the fashion industry, especially in the creative aspect of the sector. A designer or stylist might think they are removed from politics: except as Brexit shows, our previous freedom of movement for goods (textiles) and services (work in Europe) is a part of the on-going Brexit negotiations. Game of Thrones has been discussed in the Chamber (what you see on TV for PM’s Question Time where MPs vote) multiple times more than fashion.
How do you take things up a notch when last season Her Majesty the Queen excited even the most jaded amongst us by attending her first ever fashion show, for Richard Quinn at London Fashion Week. I did wonder how she would take the floral gimp masks, but her enthusiasm and smiles were endless. We all left feeling truly like the Queen had shone her support on UK fashion, at a time when during Brexit and after austerity, it has been a difficult time for our industry.
Finalists in the 2018 Green Carpet Franca Sozzani emerging designer Award, International Woolmark Prize and British Fashion Trust Winners Teatum Jones, have just been appointed by the BFC as the 'Positive Fashion’ representatives for London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2019. This season Teatum Jones have partnered with Youtube, Google and The British Fashion Council in support of United Nations Women for their latest collection ‘Global Womanhood Part Two, 16 Days Of Activism.’
Over the past year, the fashion industry has made huge strides to becoming more inclusive, committing itself to represent a wide spectrum of genders, ethnicities and cultures. However, there is one consumer group that remains severely underrepresented- individuals with disabilities. The release of Grazia’s Big Fashion Issue this week aimed to address this exclusion.
Chanel has decided to simplify its structure by moving its global corporate operations to a single location, London. Currently, Chanel’s international operations, such as financial, legal and accounting, are spread across the globe, although most take place in New York, the city which serves as the brand’s global headquarters.
Expectations for London Fashion Week, the stepping down of Alibaba’s Chairman and decisions made on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market - the news of this week reflects anticipation and speculation on the changes happening across the industry.
Last Wednesday Fashion Roundtable partnered with The Hox Holborn for our Body Image and Identity Politics Event. The panel, chaired by Tamara Cincik and featuring Caryn Franklin MBE, Farrah Storr Editor of Cosmopolitan, Chidera Eggerue intersectional feminist and founder of #saggyboobsmatter, Jules Von Hep celebrity spray tanner and body positivity advocate, Grace Woodward TV presenter and stylist and Jacob Mallison Bird Drag artist, model and Oxford PHD student, discussed identity and body positive body image with a focus on inclusion, diversity and representation.