By Mark Hanrahan
London kicked off fashion week on Friday to pleas from the local fashion industry to protect the city’s international outlook as uncertainty about Britain’s impending departure from the EU hung in the air for the second year in a row.
Five days of catwalk shows include a wide array of British talent with star turns by high-profile international brands Emporio Armani from Italy and U.S. designer Tommy Hilfiger.
“Our industry, our businesses, our creatives and our talent are international – literally in citizenship, but also in outlook,” said Caroline Rush, CEO of the local industry body, the British Fashion Council.
The fashion industry wanted tariff-free access to the EU, “friction-less” borders and government support for bringing international talent to Britain.
“Our plan really is to champion the creative industries in London,” Justine Simons, London’s deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, told Reuters.
“We have a Brexit task force and we’re talking with the government about how we get the best deal for the creative industries.”
London’s fashion event will feature around 90 shows and presentations, as well as a designer showcase for domestic and international trade buyers and media.
Richard Malone, a young Irish designer, kicked off the festivities, showing a spring/summer 2018 collection including asymmetric dresses and pant suits featuring lined patterns and accompanied by patterned thigh-high cut-away boots.
British talent on show during the event includes Ralph & Russo, Amanda Wakeley, Christopher Kane and Julien Macdonald while British fashion house Burberry will also attract significant interest.
Hilfiger’s event – dubbed Tommynow – closes the festival on Tuesday and comes on the back of high-concept shows in New York and Los Angeles during which the label effectively built amusement parks, complete with a Ferris wheel in New York.
The event will also see the labels increasingly adopt the “see now, buy now” model, where clothes seen on the catwalk are available to consumers online immediately after the show.
Brands including TopShop, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry will be doing “see now, buy now” shows in London.
Online retail giant Amazon is seeking to go a step further, teaming up with former Diesel creative director Nicola Formichetti’s Nicopanda label to offer delivery of items to some customers in London within an hour.
(Additional reporting by Jayson Mansray, editing by Ed Osmond)