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With a Brexit deal confirmed, fashion services will suffer

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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After five turbulent years, the UK and Europe finalised a trade agreement just days ahead of 2021 that would see the start of Brexit with a new accord.

The agreement will see tariff and quota-free traded goods after December 31, with the exception of the services industry.

Services comprise of 80 percent of the UK economy, including fashion businesses, where models, castings, show and event producers, photographers and any fashion professional may face mobility barriers when doing business across the EU. And vice verse.

London no longer a hub

London to date has been a hub for fashion models, photographers and brands: shooting campaigns, look books and advertising by having a roster of international creatives available who could come to the UK without hindrance, even a last minute assignment. This will no longer be possible in the new year.

“London’s role as a talent hub for the global fashion industry will take a substantial hit as a result of new immigration rules being imposed after the Brexit transition period, according to several leading modelling agencies,” wrote the Financial times. “New visa requirements to enable British and EU models to work in each other’s countries after the ending of EU free movement on January 1 will reduce the attractiveness of London for models, stylists and photographers working in the industry.”

Creatives coming to the UK will now require tier 5 sponsorship or a visa, which may take significant time by the Home Office to process.

The good news is the agreement is the first the EU has ever reached allowing zero tariffs and zero quotas. For the EU, reaching a deal avoids poisoning relations with a key diplomatic and commercial neighbour for years, and provides a basis for further cooperation in future, said Bloomberg.

Neighbours, not partners

But the fashion industry is not an independent business activity that can thrive without international partners. From manufacturing to exporting, catwalk to closet, styling to sourcing and designing to development, the fashion industry is one of the most globalised trades, with goods often designed in one country, produced in another and sold in a third. For example, a British fashion company may source its fabrics in China or the EU, have the clothes manufactured in Vietnam, finished in Italy and shipped to a warehouse in the UK for distribution to retail outlets internationally. This chain of production will be hindered, if the person sourcing requires a visa to enter the EU or if the company is reliant on services from outside of the UK. The bottom line will be the challenges imposed and the affects they have on pricing, timing and competitiveness.

No more last minute photo shoots

As for that last minute photo shoot, booking a model from Europe for a same-day campaign will be a thing of the past. European brands may find it easier to shoot in Paris, Milan or other major EU cities, when incoming talent to London would need to meet entry requirements.

Image: Brexit via Pexels