Dezeen Magazine

90 per cent of British fashion designers oppose Brexit

EU referendum: A survey carried out by the British Fashion Council has revealed that 90 per cent of British fashion designers say they will vote to remain in the European Union.

Out of the 290 respondents to the online survey, 90 per cent voted remain, 4.3 per cent voted to leave, 2.4 per cent were undecided and 2.8 per cent said they would not be voting in the referendum on 23 June.

Designers weighed in on the debate during last week's fashion showcase London Collections Men (LCM), where Christopher Raeburn presented pieces emblazoned with the word 'In', and Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan of Sibling showed support by taking their final bow wearing 'In' T-shirts.

"For a host of reasons including staffing, manufacturing and exporting, we're very much in," Raeburn told Dezeen.

McCreery had additional safety concerns should Britain vote to leave.

"We sell in Europe, we work with European factories closer to home, many of our friends and our models come from Europe," she said.

"We strongly believe that we are stronger in and that being in only strengthens our unity on the World stage, a stage that at the moment – post-Orlando, post-Paris and post-Brussels – feels very precarious."

The British Fashion Council's results are echoed by a previous survey of the UK's Creative Industries Federation members, which showed that 96 per cent were in favour of remaining in the European Union.

Vivienne Westwood was among 282 leading creative figures to sign an open letter opposing Brexit at that time. She also urged the public to vote to stay in a blog post.

"We must vote remain in the UK referendum," she said. "It's about cooperation not competition, about peace, tax reform, working together."

The industry's leanings on the EU referendum were obvious from the outset at LCM. In his opening-day speech, culture minister Ed Vaizey stated that LCM was a "Remain event", and pro-EU posters designed by photographer Wolfgang Tillmans were displayed in the reception of the British Fashion Council, where many of the shows took place.

Central Saint Martins student Philip Ellis based his graduate collection on the vote, incorporating traditional English proverbs, like "birds of a feather flock together", into each garment.

"I think that, on a personal level, my life wouldn't be as great without the EU," he told Dazed & Confused.

"I've decided to move to Paris as soon as I graduate and have friends on my course who have come from across Europe – they wouldn't be able to study or live in London without the opportunities the EU presents."

While the fashion industry is nearly in consensus, general polling suggests the UK-wide vote will be a close one, with a TNS poll released on Tuesday showing voters split 40-47 in favour of Brexit – that is, a British exit from the EU.

Wolfgang Tillmans EU Referendum posters
Pro-EU posters designed by photographer Wolfgang Tillmans were displayed in the reception of the British Fashion Council during LCM

The Remain campaign is being spearheaded by cross-party group Britain Stronger in Europe and supported by the UK government through online, TV and print media adverts.

On the opposing side are two organisations: Vote Leave, associated with former London mayor Boris Johnson, and Leave. EU, supported by the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP).

British designer Tom Dixon told Dezeen in April that a potential Brexit could damage London's status in the design industry.

"It might mean that London becomes much more insular and stops being the international platform that it has become, which is really exciting for design," said Dixon.