Reflecting on the successes and challenges of the last financial year seems out of step with the challenges we now face. However, the hard work of the team at the BFC and the extended network of advisors and mentors should be recognised. Their voice to industry has never been more important.
BFC regularly contribute to briefings and advisory councils on issues the industry will face as we exit the EU. Key issues they are prioritising are: access to talent from CEOs to machinists, movement of goods from samples, component parts to finished goods and tariffs that may lead to market access barriers, putting British businesses at a disadvantage. Moving to WTO tariffs rather than EU negotiated tariffs and free trade agreements without a transition period will cause significant issues from manufacturing to wholesale to retail.
The UK fashion industry’s willingness to continue to trade globally was a key message and the rationale for continuing to host events and build the existing portfolio with focused trade missions to the EU, US, China and South Korea.
BFC's global events from Fashion Weeks to The Fashion Awards not only showcased excellence in creativity, but also championed those pioneering new ways of working, addressing environmental change. They also hosted the first Positive Fashion Exhibition at LFW, partnered with the UN Office of Partnerships to celebrate Positive Change at The Fashion Awards and in February, launched the global initiatives map at Downing Street as a key initiative for the Institute of Positive Fashion.
Despite reduced partnership revenue for The Fashion Awards due to Swarovski’s move from Principal Partner to Presenting Partner, the British Fashion Council was still able to maintain revenue and make a £750,000 donation to the BFC Foundation at the end of the Financial Year. The BFC Foundation, a new entity combining all BFC active charities including BFC Education Foundation, was established in this year. Protected funds for existing initiatives such as Scholarships, and BFC Fashion Trust, sit within the charity’s reserves.
The charities would usually release approximately £1m in the year to support creative businesses or scholarships. Although this was released as usual in 2019, the decision was taken in March 2020 to focus £1million of funds for the future year on supporting businesses in need to survive the impacts of COVID-19. Further fundraising efforts will continue through 2020 to support more businesses at this time and ensure future funds for the BFC Foundation.
They are actively and urgently addressing the lack of diversity within the BFC, from executive board, advisory boards and committees, mentors and team. They are also in the process of establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee that will address issues of access to both education and employment, career development and industry-wide allyship.
Although they met the majority of our goals last year, we are re-assessing how we as an organisation re-set to best empower businesses to achieve positive growth and support creative talent in the years ahead with reduced resources.
BFC CEO Caroline Rush shares; "As the BFC finalises this piece of work, we can share that our commitment will be to positive growth, increased responsibility, reducing our industry’s environmental impact and breaking down barriers to increase diversity and inclusion.
The BFC Designer Membership was successfully launched in 2019, with a moratorium on Membership payments to January 2021 agreed by the Executive Board enabling members to continue to benefit from access to business resources and representation to Government through these challenging times."