For Small Fashion Brands, Help Is On The Way

Photo: Eamonn McCormack/BFC/Getty Images.
Right now, smaller, independent brands are undoubtedly the most vulnerable to economic hardship in the wake of the coronavirus. We, as consumers, can do our part to support small fashion businesses by interacting with them on social media or purchasing their merchandise online. But, ultimately, it shouldn’t be the job of consumers to keep brands in business during a crisis, as we, too, feel the financial burden caused by the novel coronavirus. (Ideally, it should be the government.) 
That’s where the British Fashion Council comes in. On Friday, the BFC announced the launch of the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund, an endowment created to help support independent fashion businesses and up-and-coming designers during the uncertain period ahead.
“These are unprecedented times and now more than ever the BFC is committed to helping all the businesses and people making up the fashion industry,” says The British Fashion Council’s Chief Executive Caroline Rush.
To start, 1 million pounds, equivalent to roughly $1.2 million, will immediately be divided up and sent to struggling young brands, as well as the most promising students enrolled in fashion programs around the U.K. The latter donation is part of the BFC’s ongoing effort to support the next generation of fashion creatives. As one can imagine, though, this initial pledge will only go so far.
“Simultaneously, we are launching a fundraising campaign to gather contributions crucial to the survival of our industry,” Rush says. The BFC is calling on the government to provide further funding for the fashion industry in the U.K. More specifically, the council is asking for long-term low-risk loans or grants, Grazia UK reports, both of which can be used for order cancellations and sell-through guarantees, otherwise known as insurance policies that protect retailers from brands that cannot make order deadlines. Due to government-mandated factory closures, many brands are worried that the supply chain disruption will lead to an inability to follow through with promised orders to retailers. Loans would help support brands and retailers as they navigate these unstable circumstances.
The BFC is also requesting a rent freeze to keep retailers and brands from having to vacate their offices, warehouses, and retail stores. 
“Now is the time to come together and support each other,” Rush says. “This is what the new Fund’s aim is."
For brands and/or designers looking to apply for funding from the BFC, Grazia UK reports that applications will open within the next week and will remain open until April 10th. 
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the NHS website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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