This week we at the British Fashion Council (BFC) celebrated the international fashion industry at the iconic Royal Albert Hall for The Fashion Awards.

In partnership with Swarovski, 2016 saw us take the leap to position this event with a global focus, celebrating not only the best of British, but also a host of international winners.

During the ceremony we raised funds for the BFC Education Foundation, an initiative designed to attract, develop and retain future talent for the fashion industry.

The BFC is committed to raising £10m in 10 years, giving opportunities to talented young people.

As well as supporting MA and BA scholarships for young designers, the BFC Education Foundation and the University of the Arts London have also started an apprenticeship scheme in 2016 to reflect that institutionalised education and specific design courses are not for everyone and that there are multiple ways of entering the fashion industry.

The apprenticeships represent the huge number of roles within the industry and will deliver skills including production development, sales and logistics and fashion marketing and communications.

Talent and infrastructure

The UK is known for its young, emerging talent and London Fashion Week is a huge celebration of creativity. We feel our role is integral to keeping that reputation and originality.

The UK has outstanding fashion retailers and online platforms that are very open to supporting and nurturing our young designers, from buyers like Mrs B at Browns Fashion to digital pioneers such as José Neves at Farfetch.

It is the digital landscape where the UK is continuing to make strides. Online fashion sales were up 16% to £12.4bn last year alone, with many pioneering British ecommerce businesses such as Farfetch and leading the way.

Not only are they buying brands from established to emerging designers, but they are also engaging with consumers at different price-points and ages.

We are seeing many British businesses leading the way on the runway, with small businesses and mega brands such as Burberry demonstrating leadership by adapting to new ways of working, putting the customer at the heart of all activity and delivering desirable product that the consumer wants to buy.

  • Caroline Rush is chief executive of the British Fashion Council
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