This weekend, Britain voted to leave the European Union and the news sent stock markets plunging and hammered the British pound, which hit its lowest point in decades.
Although it will likely take years for Britain to untangle itself from the EU, many in the fashion industry are left questioning what the change could mean for their livelihoods. Of course, London is a major fashion player, with the fashion industry contributing an estimated Dhs139.5 billion to the UK economy in 2014, according to the Business of Fashion.
A weak pound and uncertainty about new tariffs could mean major challenges for UK-based businesses, which often source fabrics and produce in other parts of Europe.
Before the vote, the British Fashion Council surveyed its members and found that the vast majority — 90% of members — wanted to remain in the EU. (Nearly 500 designers opened the e-survey, with 290 responding.)
"There was an overwhelming support from our designer survey for the UK to remain in Europe and there will no doubt be upset and dismay at the result that will prompt an outreach to our friends, partners, business colleagues in Europe," Caroline Rush CBE, Chief Executive, British Fashion Council, told Elle.com. "We now have a role to play in keeping the government updated on our industry's priorities and keeping the designer community updated on any likely impact to business as our country prepares to leave the EU over the coming years."
This turmoil is predicted to affect prices of items coming into and out of Britain, as well.
"The cost of a weaker pound impacts all retailers, so it will be passed on to consumers," Brun Monteyne, senior analyst at Sanford Beinstein, told the Financial Times.
And it's this uncertainty that experts think will play a major and immediate role on luxury businesses. Stocks for fashion houses like Burberry, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo dropped sharply Friday morning.
"The biggest impact of Brexit is increased volatility in the market that is already volatile which probably means a decrease of consumer sentiment," Mario Ortelli, Senior Research Analyst at Sanford Bernstein, told Business of Fashion. "This is not good for the luxury goods companies and if we look at the trading of the shares of the luxury goods companies, probably this Brexit decision will increase the pressure of the market going down, probably the luxury goods companies valuation will falter in the short term amidst this volatility."
Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery of Sibling wore 'IN' shirts at their menswear presentation last week
How Brexit will affect travel and immigration is also a huge question mark right now. London-based designer Christopher Kane, who is Scottish, told The New York Times his business has "all of these amazing seamstresses from Italy, from all over Europe, that have been working with us for five years … How much would it cost for us to get them Visas?"
Travelling into and out of the UK for business and events like fashion week could also be met with new barriers, depending on the agreements reached in the coming years.
Still, the British Fashion Council confirms to Elle.com that London Fashion Week will take place this year as originally planned.
In the week leading up to the vote, the British designers of Sibling, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery, took to the runway of their Men's Fashion Week show in T-shirts saying "In," to show their opposition. In February, Christopher Bailey of Burberry was one of more than 100 business leaders to sign a letter in the Times of London that argued, "Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU."
Today, designers including Vivienne Westwood have posted their reactions on social media.
As Kane told The Times, "The fashion industry is not going to know what hit it. It's quite scary."
Via Harper's Bazaar Australia