Fashion

British Fashion Council Has 7+1 Requests To Overcome COVID-19 Crisis

Mandy Meyer
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British Fashion Council (BFC) is calling the Government to step in and help the fashion industry overcome the COVID-19 crisis before it is too late.

The British Fashion Council press release starts by acknowledging the support measures implemented by the British Government, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the press release points out to a recent study which shows that many businesses [fashion-related] were unable to access the provided support schemes.

Covid 19 impact on fashion

The study that the BCF points out to, is from Oxford Economics.

The research puts emphasis on how the global pandemic has impacted the British fashion industry.




– Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on British Fashion

According to the study, COVID-19 lockdown has impacted the British fashion industry twice as hard when compared to the overall UK business landscape.

Covid 19 uk fashion impact - Burberry mask

The pandemic has wiped out the above-average growth achieved by the industry in the past ten years.

To understand the extent of the damage, know that the British fashion industry employs almost 1 million people.

British Fashion Council asks for support to battle covid 19 pandemic impact on fashion

According to BFC, because of the pandemic, a quarter-million people are at risk of losing their jobs.

Moreover, when we include other fashion-related jobs, such as supply chain and retail stores, the figure goes above 1/3 of a million.




Taking to total to over 350,000 people without employment.

To put the number into perspective, it equals to 1 per cent of all jobs in the UK.

Uk Covid-19 unemployment report

Source: www.ons.gov.uk

As a direct consequence, the level of contribution to GDP is expected to drop from £35billion in 2019 to £26.2billion in 2020.

Another sharp drop is predicted in revenues.

Data shows a decline in revenues from £118billion in 2019 to £88billion this year.

The data also shows that alongside the economic impact, an entire generation of creative talent is threatened to disappear.

Consequently, the UK’s position as the creative hub of global fashion will be in danger.

Therefore, taking action to retain and ensure future employment in the fashion industry is vital.

BFC Seven (Plus One) Measures To Overcome COVID-19 Impact

In this line, the British Fashion Council is asking the Government for concrete support through a series of 7 critical measures outlined below.

Yet, we feel the BFC has missed a vital measure (the 8th one) that we’ve outlined below:

1. Help Retail Stay Open

Low office occupancy and people working from home might seem like a solution right now.

However, even though office occupancy is low, businesses still have to pay full rent.

fashion retail

Nevertheless, paying rent is a problem in this current climate.

Without tourists – restricted by global lockdown – there’s no footfall and no customers.

As such, commercial leases and high business rates are challenging issues, impeding brands from sustaining retail operations.




We need to ensure that our cities and towns don’t see a swathe of closures.

To prevent mass job losses, and further reduced footfall.

Hence, the BFC asks for Government support to:

  • Enable lease re-negotiations where landlords aren’t acting responsibly.
  • Provide grants or long-term interest-free loans to offset the costs of leases.
  • Provide rent & rates relief for all businesses.

2. Funds For Small To Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs)

There are many SMEs that are not eligible for proposed Government measures.

However, these SMEs were functional and viable before COVID-19.

BFC asks the Government to:

  • Expand SMEs grants or interest-free loans.

3. Foster Fashion Innovation

Innovation, research and development for clean growth is a critical aspect of a better industry and future.

BFC asks the Government to:

  • Foster the creation of an ecosystem that allows the industry to reset and shift towards a sustainable future.

Will.i.am-Farfetch-innovation-in-fashionThat includes support for:

  • Smarter manufacturing.
  • Waste management.
  • Recycling, upcycling, and circular models for a world-leading British circular fashion economy.

4. Responsible Retailing

We need new regulations so that large retailers support small businesses.

It is to stop the cancellation of goods and sell-through guarantees on agreed orders.

BFC asks the Government to:

  • Alleviate the current inventory crisis through new regulations.

5. Grant Access to Finance And Future-Proofing

The global pandemic has further spotlighted the financial challenges of fashion businesses.

A fiscal framework must be created to help develop more robust businesses that are less reliant on leveraging cash flow within the supply chain.

BFC asks the Government to:

  • Explore and construct financial mechanisms that can de-risk businesses for the future, such as supply chain finance.
  • Make ‘Future Fund’ more appealing to private investors by offering EIS relief.
  • Create a new ‘Fashion Investment Fund’ with industry mentoring support and fiscal incentives for investment in business and inward investment.

6. Taxes

Without customers, sales or profits, fashion brands have no revenues.

Yet, any formed companies are legally obliged to continue paying taxes.




BFC asks the Government to:

  • A moratorium on payment of duty and tariffs to support the restart of international supply chains.
  • Further support liquidity and cash flow in the industry.

7. British Manufacturing & Local Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply

BFC applauds Downing Street’s commitment to producing 2 billion pieces of PPE in Britain, by British fashion manufacturers.

However, BFC feels the Government has to continue its work with the fashion industry by co-investing in British manufacturing and support.

The Government shouldn’t limit its support to PPE – required now.

Moreover, the industry needs further support for R&D and material innovation, to create a future-ready, resilient and environmentally friendly industry.

BFC asks the Government to:

  • Support the growing opportunity to re-onshore responsible fashion and textile manufacturing throughout the UK.

We can achieve this through investment in innovation, capital and skills, as part of the ‘Clean Growth Strategy’ while creating the right trading environment through tax relief and negotiations in new ‘Free Trade Agreements’.

As an example, the British Fashion Council continues to raise funds for its ‘Foundation Fashion Fund’ for the COVID-19 Crisis’ to support creative fashion businesses and individual to survive the pandemic.

8. Dedicated Media

And here we are, at the part we feel BFC could have also mentioned in its support please to the British Government.

Despite being 30 min walking distance from each other, it is not the close geographical proximity that brings together London College of Fashion, Westminster University, BBC, Conde Nast Britain, Business of Fashion and WTVOX Media.

London College of Fashion, Westminster University, BBC, Conde Nast Britain, Business of Fashion and WTVOX Media in London on Google map

There was, is, and will always be a symbiotic relationship between FASHION and MEDIA.

A large part of the fashion industry is the media.

Marketing, publicity, promo, the stories behind brands and designers, the image and aspirational content, all of it happens thanks to media.

And right now, convincing policymakers and stakeholders that the industry needs help, from retail, emerging designers, to shifting direction towards clean growth and positive change, requires media coverage.

Support Media = Support Designers

In May 2020, BFC gave financial support and mentoring to 37 British designer businesses.

The grants were taken from the £1,000,000 emergency fund and allocated to viable companies.




The assessment of these startups depended on financial urgency and their capability to come through and thrive post-crisis.

Emerging fashion students received the remaining portion of the funds.

The aim here was to underpinning the future generation of creative talent.

The fund will re-open for further rounds of applications so that more meaningful support can be given.

However, the fashion industry should acknowledge the vital role of dedicated media and include them in its Governmental request for support.

It is time for the industry to nurture and support dedicated fashion media platforms as well,  as these are an important part of the fashion ecosystem.

These platforms are the voice of British fashion, on a global scale.

Your take on this…

Do you think BFC should help dedicated media platforms?

What is one thing the British Government should do right now?

What are you, as a consumer, doing to help?

Would love to hear your thought and comments below!

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  1. Great article, love the ‘dedicated media’ inclusion. Indeed, fashion media is critical to our industry and it needs support from us and other bodies that it covers, so beautifully. I’ve attached a link to the British Fashion Council’s COVID Crisis Fund and how to apply. All the best!