With Brexit looming and the potential loss of commerce with other European nations, the U.K. fashion and textile industry is increasing its focus on the American market.
At the men’s trade shows in New York this week, nearly 50 designers and manufacturers of men’s wear brought their wares to the city. Among the brands showing at Project, MRket, Capsule, Liberty Fairs and Man under the tag line “Brits in New York” were Alan Paine, Austin Reed, Barbour, Edward Green, Ettinger, John Smedley, French Connection, Trickers, Derek Rose, Ted Baker London, Troubadour and Richard James.
Paul Alger, director of international business development for the U.K. Fashion & Textile Association, said, “If Brexit happens, we need to make sure we replace the business we’ll lose in continental Europe with other markets. And the U.S. is tops on that list.”
As a result, the UKFT provides grants of 1,200 pounds for brands to show internationally up to six times.
In addition to the U.S., the grants are available to manufacturers showing at Pitti Uomo in Florence, where Alger said 100 U.K. brands were represented at the latest edition in June, as well as at shows in Paris; Lyon, France; Shanghai, and Berlin.
Although the UKFT doesn’t have the financial clout of the Italians, which bankroll a large number of manufacturers to travel the world and also provide larger stipends, Alger believes British brands have their place.
“We bring heritage on one hand and quirky design on the other,” he said.
Alger said that like the U.S., the business climate in Britain is also challenging these days. But one of the primary reasons for the large showing in New York is to ensure American retailers that the U.K. market is alive and well.
“The U.S. is very important for us and we want to reassure the market that we’re still here,” he said.