Business of Fashion: Britain’s Fashion Industry Relieved at Scotland’s Vote to Stay
In a historic referendum yesterday, 84% of Scots took to the polls in a vote to secede or stick with the United Kingdom. Scotland voted to stay. Worries over terminating the country’s 307-year union with Great Britain extended beyond London’s parliamentary chambers as British retailers braced themselves for economic uncertainty
In April, a survey by ICM Research found that a third of consumers across Great Britain would be less likely to patronize Scottish companies if Scotland seceded. Last week, a poll for The Sunday Telegraph found that almost 80% of FTSE 100 business leaders believed a “yes” vote on the referendum would seriously impact the UK economy. Sir Charlie Mayfield, chief of upscale department chain John Lewis, said British retailers would be compelled to increase prices significantly in their Scottish locations to combat the cost of doing business across the border.
Still, top designers took advantage of the European fashion calendar to proclaim support for Scottish independence. At London Fashion Week, Vivienne Westwood sent models down her runway sporting the campaign’s blue “Yes” badges. The 73-year-old designer didn’t mince words for reporters backstage: “I hate England,” she said. “I like Scotland because somehow I think they are better than we are. They are more democratic.”
In Milan, Giorgio Armani said that he too is for secession, a statement that coincided with his bold and empowering spring collection.
But the British Fashion Council is breathing a sigh of relief at Scotland’s decision to stay put. The BFC, which boasts first lady Samantha Cameron as a spokeswoman, launched its own counter-campaign under the slogan “Let’s Stay Together”. Speaking to Women’s Wear Daily on Tuesday, the organization lamented a potential loss of Scottish textile heritage that was long-allied with Britain and supported by British businesses.
At London Fashion Week, a number of prominent talents showing were Scots: such as Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, and Holly Kane. A foreign border would also have spiked educational costs for Scottish students wishing to attend British universities, a potential hindrance to attracting and fostering talent in the UK.