British Designers Take A Stance On Brexit

British designers have been vocal ahead of the landmark European Union referendum scheduled for Wednesday, taking a firm stance against a potential Brexit.

Last month, a number of designers were among the signatories of a letter released by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. They included Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett, Bella Freud, Patrick Grant, Annoushka Ducas, Kit Neale, Hussein Chalayan and Daniel Fletcher.

Other members of the British fashion industry such as British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman and executive chairman of the Dune Group Daniel Rubin were also included among the signatories.

Access to different markets within the EU and EU funding, as well as free movement of talent, are among the main reasons to stay, according to the letter.

Christopher Raeburn
Designer Christopher Raeburn.
CREDIT: Giovanni Giannoni.

It says 56 percent of all overseas trade in the creative sector is done within Europe, and that the country has been benefiting from the European Commission’s 80 million euros, or $117 million, Horizon 2020 innovation fund, which gives money to various creative initiatives.

“Britain is not just stronger in Europe; it is more imaginative and more creative and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away,” the letter states. “From the Bard to Bowie, British creativity inspires and influences the rest of the world. We believe that being part of the EU bolsters Britain’s leading role on the world stage.”

It also describes the referendum as “the biggest democratic decision of our time” and argues that leaving the EU would mean “a leap into the unknown” for the 2.8 million people employed by the creative economies of the country.

Simultaneously, Britain’s Creative Industries Federation released a survey stating that 96 percent of its members support the U.K.’s stay in the European Union.

During Graduate Fashion Week — a four-day event that takes place in the British capital to showcase graduate students’ collections — Burberry chief executive and creative director Christopher Bailey, who attended the awards ceremony on the final day, stressed his support of remaining in the European Union, saying that “we have some of the best design talent in the U.K. including talent from Europe.”

Sibling Fashion
Backstage at Sibling.
CREDIT: Kuba Dabrowski.

Recently, a number of men’s wear designers utilized London Collections: Men — which took place between June 10-13 — as a platform to voice their views on the upcoming referendum. Christopher Raeburn, E. Tautz’s Patrick Grant and Sibling’s Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan all took their bows in T-shirts featuring pro-Europe slogans.

Up-and-coming designer Daniel W. Fletcher used the question of Brexit as one of the main references in his collections, which featured blankets and bomber jackets emblazoned with the message “Stay” at the front. Fletcher also staged a flash protest outside his show venue rounding up family, friends and models to support the campaign.

After the four-day event, the British Fashion Council also released results from a survey highlighting U.K. designer businesses’ preference to remain in the European Union.

According to the survey, more than 500 designers opened the e-survey with 290 responding. Some 90 percent of those who responded stated their preference to remain, while 4.3 percent voted to leave. Meanwhile, 2.4 percent were undecided and 2.8 percent said that they would not vote.

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