London Fashion Week Celebrates Its Big 40 at 10 Downing Street

LONDON — Fashion industry professionals and patrons of the British Fashion Council gathered at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the 40th anniversary of London Fashion Week.

In the reception area inside the residence and office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, designers including Stephen Jones, Sandra Choi, Andreas Kronthaler, David Koma, Emilia Wickstead, Aaron Esh, Anya Hindmarch and Anna Jewsbury of Completedworks exchanged ideas while enjoying petit high tea classics like cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and eclairs.

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At the same time, well-heeled BFC patrons were busy catching up with each other before Lucy Frazer, the U.K.’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, addressed the room and voiced her support for the British fashion industry.

“Our fashion industry is vital — worth 28.9 billion pounds to the economy and providing 800,000 jobs in 2021. With a plan to grow the creative industries by 50 billion pounds and create a million more jobs, our 2 million pounds of support for NewGen will continue to support the Alexander McQueens of tomorrow,” she said.

David Pemsel, chair of the BFC, followed up on Frazer and reiterated that the U.K. fashion sector has been “a crucial economic and social driver” as the current scale of the British fashion industry is comparable to the legal services and greater than the car sector.

Faced with a challenging business landscape, Pemsel said the BFC’s focus continues to be creating opportunities for businesses of all sizes and working with patrons, sponsors and the government on the levers it has to support growth for the sector.

“While we are excited to reflect on the past 40 years — what is clear is the relentless innovation that drives us forward, we are famed the world over for our ideas, originality and uniqueness, which are essential for the next 40 years and beyond,” he added.

Caroline Rush, chief executive officer at the BFC, agreed that business is tough. It has been the subtext of the conversations she has been having for the past year.

But as London Fashion Week enters a new decade, Rush said she prefers to focus on creating opportunities for growth, and providing pathways for young people from all backgrounds to access successful and rewarding careers in the industry.

She praised Jimmy Choo’s support of Conner Ives this season as an example of how big businesses can help emerging talents grow.

Rush also believes that the government’s continuous support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Business and Trade, U.K. Research and Innovation and the Mayor of London, will be crucial as well.

“To help us compete post-Brexit, we need at least a level playing field, which if can’t be trade-free tariffs, needs to be about funding to build international businesses through more targeted export promotion,” Rush said.

She also voiced her support for bringing back tax-free shopping in the U.K. as a thriving retail sector would be the backbone of the country’s creative industry.

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