The fashion industry now contributes £32.3bn to the British economy according to new figures released by the British Fashion Council on the eve of the 68th edition of London Fashion Week.
According to Oxford Economics, which compiled the 2017 figure, this represents a 5.4% increase after 2016 – when it last released its industry sizing research – a growth rate which is 1.6% higher than the rest of the economy.
Overall the fashion industry now employs 890,000 people, up by 1.8% since 2016, meaning that fashion is almost as large as the financial sector.
Over the next five days, some 80 designers will be showing on-schedule at the event (56 of which will be catwalks shows), along with 100 brands at the Designer Showrooms exhibition, which will be attended by guests from 50 countries.
The SS19 London Fashion Week is to be the first in its history to be completely fur-free as a survey of all the on-schedule designers at the event revealed that none intended to show real fur. This comes after British luxury giant Burberry, and its new chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci, confirmed it would be ceasing the use of fur an angora in all of its collections moving forward.
It's a hotly anticipated week, not least because Tisci will be unveiling his first collection for Burberry, some of which will be made available for sale on Instagram and WeChat. Victoria Beckham will be showing her mainline in London for the first time since its launch to mark 10 years of her label (traditionally she has shown it in New York) and Alexa Chung will be on-schedule for the first time.
Jenny Packham will also mark a significant anniversary at the event (her 30th) and MM6 Maison Margiela (led by British designer John Galliano) and footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood will show on the on-schedule catwalk for the first time.
For the first time the event has a Chinese sponsor, the e-commerce giant VIP.com, which today staged its C-POP Catwalk show at Store X to officially launch the event and to promote Chinese talent to a British audience. The tie-up between the BFC and VIP.com will also help promote British fashion to the Chinese market. Read our interview with BFC CEO Caroline Rush and Susan Sun of VIP.com here.
The official home for London Fashion Week SS19, which runs from 14-18 September, will be Store X (formerly the Store Studios) at 180 Strand.
Image: Mulberry LFW, February 2018