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Fashion industry worth £21 billion to UK Economy

16 Sept 2010


The direct value of the UK fashion industry to the UK economy is nearly £21 billion according to a major new research study released today. Fashion’s wider contribution to the economy further influences spending in other industries, ranging from IT to tourism,

a calculation estimated at more than £16 billion, making the total economic contribution over £37 billion.

The ‘Value of the UK Fashion Industry’ report, commissioned by the British Fashion Council, defines the industry and analyses the true breadth and economic value of the UK fashion industry for the first time.

The industry’s direct economic contribution to UK GDP was collated by analysing the industry’s profits and wages (known as gross value added (GVA)) across a wide range of fashion products and items – including womenswear and menswear through to handbags and shoes – plus the contribution of fashion education, fashion marketing and fashion media. The report also highlights the pivotal role of cutting edge British design, and showcasing events such as London Fashion Week, in driving innovation and growth within the industry itself, as well as attracting millions of visitors from across the globe to the UK every year.

Interesting figures include fashion as the 15th largest industry (out of 81) in UK – similar in size to the food / beverage services and telecommunications industries and bigger than the wholesale and retail of automotives, sports activities, chemical manufacture and advertising/video sectors. Other key factors about the UK fashion industry are:
  • is evolving and innovating – with growth in online fashion retail, sustainable clothing lines, as well as modern textile R&D and manufacturing - such as sweat resistant sports fabrics.
  • has some of the best fashion colleges, designers and retailers in the world
  • drives tourism with its highly desirable high street and shopping hubs
The report highlights key challenges facing the sector, such as a lack of business skills among many smaller fashion businesses and limited awareness of the diverse opportunities in the fashion industry amongst young people and career advisors. Also the impact of the recession and limited access to investment for the fashion manufacturing and designer sectors. Also the growing international competition from other showcasing capitals could challenge London Fashion Week’s and London’s reputation as the most creative capital, calling for actions to incentivise and encourage growth of British manufacturing.

Minister for the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey said: “British Fashion has the talent, creativity and skills to rival anywhere in the world. Our new and established designers and fashion labels are internationally renowned for their unique vision at the cutting edge of this hugely important global industry. “This new research published today, on the eve of London Fashion week, shows that fashion makes a significant contribution to the UK economy and confirms British fashion’s status as one of our most important creative industries. I look forward to continuing to work with the British Fashion Council to make sure that the Government does what it can to further support the industry.”

Image: Lily Cole save the future tee