How does Brexit affect us (in the US), really?

- - Fashion Business

The dust has settled from the initial shock of Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union. Yet what so many Brits were concerned about for months prior to the vote, we in the US just seem to be processing. How does the UK’s decision affect us? And more specifically, how does Britain’s departure from the EU affect the fashion industry both here and abroad? We break down what Brexit means for us in the US.

Although the long term effects are unclear, what we do know is that the value of the pound has plummeted, and therefore prices on British luxury goods are plummeting as well. Need a concrete example? In a recent article Racked reported, “A pair of heeled Gucci loafers, currently available on Net-a-Porter, currently cost £420 — $580 at current exchange rates. A month ago, they would have cost you about $613. A metallic jacquard Mary Katrantzou dress from Selfridges, which goes for £1,785, translates to $2,468 at the moment — down from roughly $2,606 last month.”

In addition, if you find yourself inspired by all things British, now might be the time to take that inspirational trip – travel to the UK is cheaper than it has been in decades. Just today I received a text alert – “Great news by ASAPtickets: New York to London from $519 for travel dates in October through December!” I happened to visit London last October, and let’s just say that $519 sounds like quite a deal. On the bright side of Brexit, Americans are experiencing some historically low prices.

However, as the Brexit negotiations begin, there are possible ramifications for British designers that we could see across the pond. It comes as no surprise that in a poll prior to the vote conducted by the British Fashion Council, 90% of British fashion designers said they would vote against Brexit. In an outstanding summary on Fashion United, Vivian Hendriksz outlines (pre vote) how Brexit might affect the British fashion community:

  • Brexit could lead to the devaluation of the pound. This, of course, has come to fruition.
  • Brexit could cause the end of free trade for British designers with EU countries, which could put the growth of their companies at risk.
  • Eventually clothing prices could see a hike due to the increased cost of doing business, causing a loss of consumer confidence.
  • British fashion schools may miss out on funding, and therefore, foreign talent.
  • Brexit could inhibit free movement, making it difficult for artisans and craftspeople from neighboring countries to afford travel to the UK.
  • Conversely, British designers may no longer be able to afford travel to ateliers and studios outside of the UK as they once did.

In a global industry like fashion, it’s difficult not to feel the anxiety of “what could happen” for British designers. The luxury market has already taken quite a hit, as high spenders are being cautious with their dollars. Take the most recent numbers from Louis Vuitton – the French fashion house was among the luxury brands hit the hardest, reporting 73 percent less full price sell outs online in the days following the Brexit compared to the same period last year. For more on how luxury brands are faring in the wake of Brexit, take a look here.

Let’s face it – fashion is a tough industry to begin with – can you imagine limits being placed on where and how you do business? Nevermind if (beyond your control) your costs skyrocket and therefore, you must to charge your clients that much more? We are not sure how Brexit will play out in the long term, but we will be watching and hoping for the best in the months and years to come.

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.