Is sustainable fashion the answer to Britain’s fashion industry’s Brexit crisis?

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Brexit could mean that buying your favourite brand of clothing could cost you more…

The Problem:

Britain’s fashion industry has no made secret of its desire to remain a part of the European Union: in fact, 90% of the designers told the British Fashion Council (BFC) that they were voting to remain.

Shoppers could be hit by price increases as a result of a no-deal Brexit.

The £28 billion industry currently relies on international trade – according to the Evening Standard, “The UK imports almost £10 billion worth of clothes and shoes from Europe each year” and “more than 10,000 European staff work in the British fashion industry.”

Furthermore, Business of Fashion recently reported that Britain’s luxury sector – which includes top fashion brands like Burberry – could lose almost £7 billion in exports each year if Britain leaves the EU on a no-deal basis. This is because about 80% of Britain’s luxury goods go overseas, with Europe being the largest market.

Not only does Britain depend on Europe for much of its imported materials and items, Europe actually depends on Britain as a valuable key market – the United Kingdom has the fifth largest economy in the world and we really like to shop.

However, when tariffs are raised as result of Brexit, fashion prices for the consumer will also rise. And, will we want to purchase clothing with a noticeably increased pricetag to pre-Brexit times?

Beth Povey owns sustainable fashion brand Realm Designs.

Beth Povey, from Leek in Staffordshire, owns a small independent business where she sells sustainable clothing. She makes crocheted clothing, earrings and accessories as well as upcycled pieces with the aim to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Beth told StaffsLive that Brexit does make her concerned about the future of her Realm Designs business: “I do worry that the price of materials will increase, making it more expensive for me and my customers.

“I post my products all around the world and I don’t know if leaving the EU is going to affect postage prices which could discourage people from buying from me.”

The Solution:

21-year-old environmentally-friendly Beth isn’t sure Brexit will have a big impact on her though, as she sources many of the materials for her designs from charity shops and aims to get all yarn made in the UK using eco-friendly dyes: “A lot of clothes sourced in the UK are made in the EU so I’m not sure that Brexit will have a massive impact and it can only be a positive thing for the environment if the price of clothes does increase.”

“Our attitude as a nation needs to change. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting on Earth so hopefully the London Fashion Week Climate Change protests got some people to think about that.

Realm Designs proves that sustainable clothing can be fashionable with these crochet triangle bras. © Back Alley Production

“We need to think about what we are buying and if we are going to wear it enough. I hope that the pieces I create are something that people want to keep forever.”

“I don’t think people think about the amount of waste when making clothes. Whether that is during manufaxcture or when people are throwing clothes away after wearing them a few times. Clothing should be something you love and treasure. It shouldn’t be disposable.”

Beth thinks that we can all save money and the environment by purchasing fashion from sustainable brands like her own, or even by learning how to do it yourself: “I watched a lot of YouTube videos when starting out and there are also lots of great courses or one-off classes about.

“I am pretty much self-taught at making clothes so it is definitely possible.”

Purchasing clothes that guarantee longevity and demote the UK’s current throwaway culture will also save you money if and when Brexit’s tariffs hit.

Realm Designs’ releases its new collection this Monday (25th March), featuring embellished, 100% fair trade, organic cotton t-shirts. Shop the collection here.

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About Author

20-year-old Journalism student at Staffordshire University. Reporter for StaffsLIVE. Project Co-ordinator for the Staffordshire Youth Commission. Cheddleton Parish Councillor. Based in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

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