In or Out: Fashion and The Brexit Vote

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Britain’s decision to leave the EU has already shown economic ramifications, and it stands to reason that the UK’s fashion industry will also be affected. A recent poll by the British Fashion Council showed that 90% of the UK’s designer businesses preferred to remain in the European Union. A similar survey conducted by the Creative Industries Federation revealed that 96% of those polled desired to remain, and over 300 actors, writers, and other artists have signed an open letter supporting the decision to remain in the EU. Their efforts, however; have narrowly failed, with 52% voting to leave the EU, according to the BBC.

Famed British designers like Vivian Westwood have been showing their opinions on social media, with Alexa Chung posting a broken heart emoji to twitter. Others have shown their opinions before the referendum results were shown, with Cara Delevingne Instagramming a quote saying, “I wanna be inside EU” and Victoria Beckham posting a bold picture that simply says, “IN.”

Photo Credit: Victoria Beckham Instagram

Photo Credit: Victoria Beckham Instagram

Vivienne Westwood was among the more outspoken members of the fashion community. Her reactions are posted publicly on social media, with Westwood’s Instagram showing a picture of the Sex Pistols’ handbill for the song “No Future,” and a handwritten note saying “Brexit. End of Union=Everyman for himself CR. More important than ever. –link/ unite with all N90’s. Speak with one voice. IOU. More important than ever. Intellectuals unite.” The note references Westwood’s project Climate Revolution. On Climate Revolution’s website, a letter was also posted stating why leaving the EU would be a tragedy.  She said, “I want to remain in the EU because I believe in co-operation. I believe wealth lies in co-operation. I want to make the world a better place with a fair distribution of wealth, no Poverty and Peace. The EU is a step in that direction, Britain can’t do that on its own. And Europe could do it. In other words, we need a green economy.”

Photo Credit: Vivienne Westwood Instagram

Photo Credit: Vivienne Westwood Instagram

The fashion industry contributed an approximate 26 million to the UK economy in 2014 alone, suggesting that if the decision to leave the EU is bad for fashion, it’s bad for the UK. Not only would leaving affect the value of the pound (which has already happened, with its value decreasing drastically since Thursday at midnight), it would also end free trade between the UK and the rest of Europe, as well as negatively impact fashion institutions and schools such as the Royal College of Arts and UAL. A major percentage of the fashion students at these schools are undergraduates from other European countries, but that number is likely to fall as funding for foreign students is cut. It remains to be seen how exactly the fashion industry will be forced to adapt in light of the referendum’s vote. However, if Westwood and others are correct, fashion business may be facing major changes.

I'm an avid reader and love writing more than anything. My favorite authors include Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and J.K. Rowling. I love fashion, and though you'd never tell by looking at me, I'm a horror movie junkie. Painting is one of my talents, and my ultimate career goal is to be an author.

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