The Threat Facing Fashion

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In response to the constant unpredictability and threat that is dooming large over the fashion industry, THE British Fashion Council (BFC) has announced the launch of the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund.  

Fashion Month seems like a distant memory right now, the creators of AW20’s shows were casting predictions for the years ahead that, for most of us, seemed entirely possible. The first indication that something was on the horizon came to me courtesy of Agnes B who, despite facing wide criticism, cancelled her Paris AW20 show out of concern for the safety of models and attendees alike. I’ll admit, I too thought that it was an overreaction, but, how wrong we all were.

Events across the globe have been cancelled and postponed due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, and there seems to be no slowdown to the precautionary measures. Business of Fashion reports that both London and Paris Men’s Fashion Week events have now been cancelled, along with Paris Couture week.

Originally scheduled for late June and early July, The Board of Directors of the Fédération de la haute couture et de la Mode announced that Paris‘ Spring/Summer 2021 menswear and couture events will no longer go forward as originally intended saying, “The Federation is actively working with its members on possible alternatives.”

The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana reported that the Milanese men’s fashion week, planned to be held ahead of Paris’ events from June 19 to June 23, will be postponed so as to be merged with the city’s womenswear week in September 2020. “We are aware that great efforts will be made in order to have the new collections ready by June to start an innovative selling campaign,” the group’s statement read, hinting at digital alternatives to conventional runway shows. “The 800 Milan showrooms will have an active part in this new storytelling.”

Finally, the British Fashion Council confirmed that it to has made the decision to cancel all planned LFWM SS21 menswear events scheduled for June, but has already reported that it’s currently “looking at new ways to [digitize] their fashion showcase platforms,” a move that comes hot on the heels of the growing livestream initiatives that are fuelling not only fashion, but, a plethora of creative and traditionally interactive performances and antics.

Several large fashion labels, including Chanel and Dior, recently put a halt to their cruise show plans due to coronavirus fears, but these Fashion Week cancellations are perhaps the largest fashion gatherings to be quashed to date. The only match may be the now-cancelled 2020 Met Gala.

In the meantime, the fashion industry at large is reacting to the coronavirus epidemic with gusto. Clothing companies both accessible and luxurious are making use of their facilities to create essentials for medical personnel, alongside various charitable programs.

Since the beginning of the crisis, many creative businesses have been fighting on several fronts. The BFC calls for support for liquidity in the form of grants or long-term risk loans that address retail cancellations and sell-through guarantees, which in turn, will help businesses address disruption to supply chains and a potential domino effect of failure in a bid to keep creative fashion businesses and individuals afloat during the pandemic.

The British Fashion Council, through its charity the BFC Foundation (which brings all BFC charitable initiatives under one umbrella) is making £1,000,000 of emergency funds available, which will largely support designer businesses. A proportion of the funds will also be allocated to students in order to secure the future generation of creative talent.

All of this has been made possible through pooling the BFC talent support grants that would have traditionally been awarded for either early stage showcasing support or business growth and promotion.

While £1 million is a great start, the scale of the need is much greater than this. The BFC has therefore called on both the Government and individuals within the industry to support the Covid Crisis Fund through donations so that more businesses can be supported at this extraordinary time.

As a not-for-profit organisation, the BFC can act as a vital resource in unprecedented times such as these. The BFC also asks for rent holidays for office and retail stores to further protect employment.

As a member of the Creative Industries Federation, the BFC has also campaigned for additional financial measures to protect the income of creative freelancers who play such a significant role in the fashion industry.

Caroline Rush, Chief Executive BFC said: “Now more than ever, we are committed to support the businesses and people that make up our industry. With the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund and the donations raised, our hope is to support those British businesses that need additional subsidies, beyond Government stimulus available, to address their most urgent challenges.”

Businesses and individuals can apply for a grant from now for one week, with applications closing on 10 April. For more information and to apply or donate, head this way.

Words by Daisy Sells