Caroline Rush, CBE, opened London Fashion Week today with a call to celebrate the diverse and international nature of the London fashion industry; worth an estimated £28 billion to the British economy, Rush also praised the work of the 880,000 people the industry employs, finishing her speech by noting that London will be the leading city for luxury as soon as 2018.
In light of its vast creative and financial value, the need to support and nurture the diverse range of international talent in London is more important than ever. Rush added: ‘as an industry, we are as international in outlook and community as we were before the referendum last year.’
Against a backdrop of Brexit, this year sees one of the most international line ups at London Fashion Week to date, with major designers such as Armani, MM6, Tommy Hilfiger and Versace choosing to show in London, many for the first time this season. These major imports are accompanied by the landmark launch of the new London Fiorucci store (a party with a waiting list as long as Marques’Almeida’s sleeves), an on-schedule Nicopanda show and Off/White shows.
‘London is the most diverse, multicultural and open City in the world and we fiercely want to protect that reputation’, argued Rush, citing the newcomers as a welcome example of the fact that London was indeed open and thriving in spite of a difficult political climate.
As part of her speech the Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council also affirmed their commitment to the positive fashion initiative, which has been explicitly reinstated this year to champion diversity, wellness and sustainability amongst the British fashion industry.
One of the major announcements this morning was the green fashion initiative, which already has major brands such as Belstaff, Stella McCartney and Harvey Nichols signed up, as well as emerging talent such as Christopher Raeburn.
Positive fashion in terms of health and wellness was championed as a central focus too, with Rush paying homage to a scheme that has been active since 2006.
During London Fashion Week, models will be given space to relax and unwind in the ‘model zone’, ensuring a healthier and happier experience throughout the five days. This revival comes in the wake of announcements from major brands Kering and the LVMH group in Paris that they will impose stricter age and weight restrictions on the models they use in shows.
London’s fashion designers wasted no time in following through on these promises, with Teatum Jones SS18 offering an emotional start to the week.
The duo, who made waves last season with the first part of their exploration of the body, continued for SS18 with Part 2. Here the narrative of the collection was told through the experiences of Natasha Baker, a GB Paralympic dressage star, who has won eleven gold medals to date.
‘This is fashion made by human stories’, the pair declared in their show notes; their collection explored ideas of movement and the body through eyelet details, transparent organza, fine merino knits and light, printed silks. The clothes were shown to a backdrop of Natasha’s narrative, creating a powerful and moving composition.
Fashion as an industry is only slowly learning to take responsibility for itself and the aesthetic and environmental impact that it generates, but with London leading a force for positivity and responsibility, change will surely come faster and more readily.
‘What I have seen is that our industry is one that at times of challenge pulls together’, Caroline noted, and indeed, if the first day of London Fashion Week SS18 is anything to judge the city by, we’re certainly on the right track.