Government Relations

The British Fashion Council’s Political Engagement Programme aims to make the fashion industry’s voice heard by government

The BFC has engaged directly with government and organisations including the Creative Industries Council (CIC) and Creative Industries Federation (CIF), whose remit is to represent the whole of the creative industries to ensure that the challenges and opportunities of the fashion industry are presented to government in one coherent message.

The following four priority areas continue to be our focus for Brexit:

1. TALENT It is an essential part of the fashion industry to be able to source, retain and move talent and workers across the EU.  

  • Skills shortages exist, particularly in certain technical areas.  
  • There are fears that the shortage will be further compounded by the changes to arts education. 
  • Current visa arrangements already pose issues, that would be further compounded by Brexit, for example in the modelling industry.

2. TRADE Understanding the impact of Brexit on movement of goods, particularly as the industry relies on movement of components and samples.  Reaching workable trade agreements, particularly in our key markets: EU, USA, Japan, South Korea etc.

3. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Protection of Intellectual Property is a key issue for the fashion industry, which relies on creativity, design and brands.  The industry relies on Unregistered Community Designs, however in the EU this relies on disclosure in the EU first, which would present series consequences for designers showing in the UK.

4. FUNDING The fashion industry has benefitted from European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) for development of the industry and businesses within in, enabling the industry to work collectively to test new showcasing platforms and support emerging talent.

The below timeline outlines the BFC’s engagement with the government on behalf of the fashion industry. 

October 2019

  • Please note that export tariffs of 25% are coming into effect today for 17 fashion & textile related products manufactured in the UK and exported to the US. Here’s what you need to know:  
  • Fashion & Textile Products:
    The current list of products that will be facing a tariff of 25% spans 17 product lines and includes cashmere jumpers, anoraks, swimwear, and bed linen. This is in addition to the normal duties which will apply and will only impact UK-made products. The details of the tariffs on products sold can be found on the UK Fashion & Textiles website here, please note that these could be subject to change and should be reviewed regularly.
  • UK and EU Government Actions: 
    The EU and UK government are lobbying to resolve this, calling on the US to reconsider these “retaliation tariffs”.  UKFT have estimated that the annual sum would equate to £8.8m of tariffs and they are calling on the government to subsidise this. We will continue to communicate the latest updates as they occur with Press Releases and further information from the Department of International Trade (DIT) found here.
  • BFC Advice for Businesses:
    Monitor the list of products affected in case of future changes. Review existing contracts with US buyers, whether goods are being imported to the US are “ex works” or “landed” to assess the implications. Encourage US buyers and designer counterparts to lobby the US government that the increased tariffs are not in the interest of EU/UK. To find out more on how this might affect your business, please email

 August 2019

  • The BFC delivers second seminar for Designers to understand the potential impacts and preparation required for a No Deal Brexit

 June 2019

  • BFC attended Creative Industries roundtable meeting on the Immigration White Paper, chaired by Minister for Creative Industries, Margot James MP, and attended by Minister for Immigration, Caroline Nokes MP to highlight concerns with its implementation:
  • Welcomed the “industry need” approach set out in the White Paper with the removal of the cap on Tier 2 visas and recommendations including the streamlined digitised process, the scrapping of the Resident Labour Market test and digitisation of the application process, however;
  • £30k threshold is not a measure of skill for the fashion and textile industry. In manufacturing this is a particularly acute issue with relatively low salaries for highly creative and specialised roles. 
  • Current Tier 2 shortage occupation list does not cover any roles required by the high-end fashion industry. The recently published review of the SOL by the Migration Advisory Committee recommended that Clothing Designers are not added to the SOL, however the report failed to recognise the issue arising in clothing manufacture. This should be reviewed as a matter of urgency
  • As a global industry that relies on the movement of talent, the proposed reduced length of time to process visas must be implemented
  • The cost of visas can be prohibitive to creative works and therefore should be reviewed
  • Self-employment is not fully dealt with in the new proposals and we ask that Government considers a Freelance Visa
  • BFC and UKFT submit aligned responses to the Department for Education consultation on the Review of Post-16 Qualifications at level 3 and below in England.  A copy of the response can be found here.

March 2019

  • The BFC delivers seminar for Designers to understand the potential impacts and preparation required for a No Deal Brexit

February 2019

  • Communication to the BFC designer network to signpost to available resources and information that can help business prepare for a no deal scenario if this is the outcome on March 30th 2019. Find out more information here.
  • The BFC constituted a Technical Working Group to specifically tackle the challenges for the fashion industry in the case of a no deal Brexit.  Terms of reference.
  • Government announces Fashion Studio Assistant Apprenticeship as the 400th apprenticeship to be approved for use at London Fashion Week. Find out more.

January 2019

  • The BFC, BFMA and Home Office and DCMS have been working together to look at improving how international models enter the UK under the Tier 5 visa system.  This work has lead to the creation of a Code of Practice that will provide guidance to UK Visa Sponsors (model agencies) on how to bring models into the UK and ensure that they work within their sponsor’s licence.  Parliament approved the change to the Immigration Rules as of 10th January that refers to the new Models Code of Practice.
  • Further to the rejection of the EU withdrawal deal presented by the Prime Minister on the 15th January, the uncertainty and confusion posed by a No Deal Brexit scenario, and the industry’s preference to remain (based on all polls pre and post referendum), the British Fashion Council is supporting the call for The People’s Vote as the preferred current option to minimise the impact to industry. For further information please click here.
  • The BFC submitted a response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence in their review of the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List.

November 2018

  • Conversations between the BFC and the Home Office have led to work to explore how the modelling industry remains compliant with the UK immigration system, in particular given the unique nature of the industry and London Fashion Week.
  • BFC designer survey of over 500 designers to continue annual assessment of current issues around Brexit

October 2018

  • BFC submitted a response to the government’s consultation on the potential new Free Trade Agreement for the USA, part of the government’s preparations for an independent trade policy to implement after the EU exit
  • New industry Co-Chair Tim Davie is appointed to the Creative Industries Council, BFC continues to sit on CIC and its sub-groups covering Trade, Finance, Regions, Innovation & Technology, Marketing and Education
  • BFC sits on first meeting of the new Creative Industries Council Trade Board
  • BFC is interviewed as part of research into UK export performance, undertaken by Kings College London and Barclays, to inform government on how to support exporters with a particular focus on differences between sectors and regions
  • BFC appointed to sit on T Level development Panel for Creative and Design run by the Department for Education, ensuring fashion is at centre of education reform

September 2018

  • Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, speaks at opening of London Fashion Week September 2018
  • The Prime Minister hosted a reception for International Trade at Number 10 Downing Street to close London Fashion Week September 2018
  • Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC, writes a private letter to the Chair of Environmental Audit Committee highlighting the work of Positive Fashion to their inquiry into the social and environmental impact of disposable “fast fashion” and the wider clothing industry (link to inquiry here)
  • Launch of Fashion District, a strategic partnership formed in 2016, led by London College of Fashion, BFC is a key partner in industry-led cluster to reposition London’s east London based fashion sector as a creatively-led digital manufacturing centre

July 2018

  • Launch of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for Fashion Designers.  In partnership with Arts Council England, and the Home Office, with the support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the BFC works to expand and promote Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas to fashion industry applicants.  The BFC takes role of Independent Assessor for applications in the fashion industry.

June 2018

  • BFC invited to join the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Council for Sustainable Business, which was formed to advise Defra on how businesses can help achieve the aims of the 25-year Environment Plan.

April 2018

  • BFC submited consultation response to the Department for International Trade Export Strategy Terms of Reference, reflecting on the challenges that the fashion industry faces preventing growth of exports to foreign markets, and the specific needs of the fashion sector, as well as the current offer of support available 
  • Amid growing concerns around decreasing art education in schools, which would impact the talent pipeline, the BFC signs the BACC for the Future campaign, to underline that the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) excludes creative, artistic and technical subjects from counting in key school league tables, which is undermining creativity in schools

March 2018

  • As part of the Industrial Strategy White Paper, the government launches the Creative Industries: Sector Deal (link to document here).  Led by the Creative Industries Council, the BFC fed into the document, setting out how the Creative Industries will benefit from government and industry support to continue the UK’s position as a global leader in the field
  • As part of the GREAT Festival of Innovation, Caroline Rush CEO of the BFC hosted a cocktail reception to celebrate British fashion, design and creativity in Hong Kong with a group of designers

February 2018

  • Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC, is called as a witness to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee to give evidence to their inquiry Brexit: trade in non-financial services (evidence session can be watched here)
  • BFC worked jointly with UK Fashion & Textiles, the Sector Skills Body for the fashion and textile sector, to respond to the consultation on T-Level Programmes and Occupational Maps for Creative and Design, welcoming the new T-level provision whilst flagging issues that may be of concern for the fashion industry and learnings 

 November 2017

  • BFC responded to Migration Advisory Committee on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industry strategy

Summer 2017

  • BFC held 3 roundtables to inform Fashion Industrial Strategy in three key areas: Business, Education and Retail
  • BFC joins All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design in Education to highlight issues arising from the decline of arts education

 June 2017 

  • BFC submitted a response to Trade in Services Review by the Department of International Trade Policy Group and the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport.

April 2017

  • Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC, gave evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry: The impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and digital single market (a transcript is available here)
  • BFC submitted a response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper consultation. The BFC continues to feed into the Creative Industries 'Sector Deal' proposal through the Creative Industries Council. A copy of the response is available to download here

March 2017

  • The BFC hosted a roundtable with key sectors from within the fashion industry in the presence of The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture policy. The fashion industry sectors represented were: designers, brands, retail, e-commerce, photographers, model agents, manufacturers, investors, legal and education
  • The BFC Annual Designer Survey will include questions specific to issues surrounding Brexit to inform government and aide them in their negotiations, findings available in March
  • The House of Lords Internal Market Sub-Committee publishes its report Brexit: trade in non-financial services 
  • BFC submits to International Trade Committee inquiry into support for exports and investment

February 2017

  • The British Fashion Council updates stakeholders on activity to date
  • The BFC attended a reception hosted by The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
  • The BFC has been invited to contribute to the Creative Industries industrial strategy
  • A BFC representative attended a roundtable The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport with stakeholders from the creative industries to discuss the issues the UK’s exit from the EU
  • The BFC met with retailers to discuss the potential challenges around leaving the EU single market, in particular in relation to tariffs and frictionless movement of goods – 15th February 2017

January 2017

  • The Prime Minster, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, sets out her government’s 12 point plan for Brexit
  • The Prime Minster, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, launches Industrial Strategy Green Paper, highlighting creative industries as a one of five early sector deals
  • Roundtable hosted by Sharon Hodgson MP, for members of the fashion industry including a representative of the BFC, attended by The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Exiting the EU Select Committee
  • CIF roundtable hosted with The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Exiting the EU Select Committee for the key representatives from creative industries including the BFC
  • The Creative Industries, including fashion, were represented at a DCMS Select Committee hearing by John Kampfner, CIF and Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, Chair of the CIC and Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, who gave evidence at the first hearing of the select committee examining the impact of Brexit 

December 2016

  • The BFC submitted evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry: The impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and digital single market (written submission can be found here)
  • The BFC met with Vicki Forde MEP to discuss the Digital Single Market Bill and Brexit
  • The BFC hosted a roundtable for British based manufacturers to discuss the issues around Brexit

October 2016

  • The BFC responded to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, which launched an inquiry on the subject of trade in non-financial services after Brexit, including the creative sector, this official response is publicly available and sets out the findings from the round table
  • BFC contributed to a report [click to view] by the CIF and the CIC to highlight the impact of leaving the EU on the UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural education and what should be done. This report was presented to government and DCMS
  • The BFC attended a meeting with CIC, CIF and DCMS to present the findings of the report
  • The BFC Responds to the DCMS Brexit inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market

September 2016

  • London Fashion Week September 2016 focused around promoting the message “London is Open” in support of the Mayor of London at a press conference in the City which engaged business media and expanded reach beyond the creative industries
  • The BFC met with counterparts in Milan and Paris to discuss the implications of Brexit 
  • The BFC submits evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee on the review of Tier 2 migration 

July 2016

  • The BFC hosted six roundtable discussions with representatives from 82 British based designer businesses and PRs, of which the following issues were identified as the key challenges for our industry leaving the EU:
    - Talent & Skills
    - Customs Tariffs & Red Tape
    - Trade deals with non-EU countries
    - Intellectual Property
    - Post EU incentives for growth
    - Reputation as being open for business
  • BFC representative attended a roundtable discussion with Vicky Forde MEP (Member of the European Parliament) and Chairman of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee
  • The BFC lobbied the Treasury, Department of Communities and Local Government and the Mayor of London to unlock the pause on European Development Funding (ERDF).  The BFC receives funding from ERDF to promote designers and support their international development
  • The BFC engaged in conversation with counterparts in Milan and Paris regarding Brexit 

June 2016

  • Before the referendum, the BFC conducted a survey asking 500 designers their view on Brexit. Of the 290 who responded, 90% stating their preference to Remain, 4.3% voted to Leave, 2.4% were Undecided and 2.8% stated that they would Not Vote
  • The BFC worked with the CIC on Create Together, a growth strategy for the UK creative industries, developed for industry and by industry with support from government. It represents a shared vision and is action-orientated to support the growth of the creative industries for the next five years.
  • The UK voted to leave the European Union
  • The Prime Minster, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, hosted an event during London Fashion Week at 10 Downing Street to celebrate British fashion, with a focus on the strength of the industry, its inclusiveness and education

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