UKFT and GFW reception at the Houses of Parliament
Celebrating the UK’s world-leading fashion and textile talent and calling for more support to ensure the industry continues to thrive
The UK produces £9 billion worth of fashion and textiles every year and is home to some of the world’s best designers, brands and manufacturers, whose creativity knows no bounds.
UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) and Graduate Fashion Foundation, the charity behind Graduate Fashion Week, hosted a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 13th November to celebrate the industry, bringing together key industry figures with the brightest young graduate talent and key policy makers.
UKFT chairman Nigel Lugg said: “UKFT believes it is vital we support the emerging talent within our vibrant industry and for the sixth year running we are delighted to partner with Graduate Fashion Foundation to unite leading industry figures and key policy makers at the Houses of Parliament.
“To ensure the industry can continue to grow, UKFT has very ambitious plans to encourage a pipeline of talent into manufacturing to allow these designs to become a reality, as well as making sure that future designers have the appropriate knowledge to work in a rapidly changing retail industry, where collaboration with manufacturing is critical to success.”
“The event has been a great accomplishment for both fashion industry and the young creatives that are now part of it, “ said Martyn Roberts, creative and managing director of Graduate Fashion Week.
“We are delighted to feature our graduates’ work and put on display all the benefits the Graduate Fashion Foundation brings to the UK creative sector. We’re here tonight with some of the greatest industry experts and our accomplished graduates to advocate the significance of the Graduate Fashion Foundation charity.”
Host Damian Collins, MP – chairman of the Culture, Media and Sports Committee, opened the reception, followed by Hilary Alexander OBE, Graduate Fashion Foundation’s Industry Trustee and passionate supporter.
Despite the view of many, UKFT chairman confirmed that the UK fashion and textiles industry is growing at a rate that has not been seen for many years. Last year UK textiles manufacturers recorded their best sales figures since 2008, while apparel manufacturers generated their strongest figures since 2014.
Investment in manufacturing reached £403m, up 43% on the previous year, as firms look to capitalise on growing demand for UK-made fashion and textiles.
UK fashion and textiles exports are now worth £9.6bn – a rise of 22% over the last five years, aided by the dedication of the UKFT export team. Throughout that time, UKFT has worked with more than 3,500 companies delivering more than £3m of export support.
But Lugg warned that the industry needs more support from both government and retailers to seize the opportunities that the UK leaving the EU may bring and to create the right environment for our sector to thrive for many years to come.
This includes significantly increased funding for exports, meaningful action on UK manufacturing and help in making our skills and training programmes accessible to all who need them.
Lugg underlined the importance of securing trade deals that allow UK brands and manufacturers to continue to trade with overseas partners, both in Europe and elsewhere.
“A deal with Europe must be the top priority, with the European Union accounting for just shy of three-quarters of all UK textiles and apparel exports,” he said.
UKFT is also lobbying government for clarity around those classed as non-skilled EU workers that typically work in our manufacturers and retailers, as well as issues surrounding intellectual property, R&D support and the regulatory framework.
He concluded: “We, the fashion and textile manufacturing industry, face the biggest economic challenge and uncertainty as the reality of Brexit looms ever closer. Our future prosperity will be voted on in this House over the next few days. I urge you all to stand up and be counted and unite as an industry to ensure our future and our industry continues to lead the world in innovation, design and retail inspiration. We have a responsibility to ensure our voice is heard and I pledge to work with you all to make this a reality.”