(13 Feb 2017) LEAD IN:
London has always been one of the world's leading lights in the fashion industry - but has Brexit dulled some of its shine?
At the Pure London fashion retail show - and with London Fashion Week on the horizon - brand owners and designers give their views on doing business in Brexit Britain.
On the catwalk at Pure London it's business as usual.
The models strut their stuff to the music and packed crowds squeeze in for a glimpse of the latest trends.
But behind the flash and the glamour - is London still an attractive venue for fashion brands?
With Britain voting to leave the EU, and uncertainty hanging over all sectors of industry, the UK's fashion talent is preparing to weather the storm.
Maggie Song studied fashion in Beijing but came to the UK 13 years ago to make her name in the industry she loves.
In this time she has founded three labels, her most successful brand is Jolie Moi which can be found in some of the UK's largest department stores (John Lewis, Debenhams, House of Fraser).
She considers her business to be small to medium sized. Her clothes are designed in the UK but the materials and production happen in China.
When the result of the Brexit vote was announced she was on a business trip in Beijing and recalls her horror at hearing the news.
"I was shocked (when she heard the Brexit result). I couldn't think anything and also I couldn't speak, so, I was watching the exchange rate on the Internet, I can see the drop, the pound, this dramatic drop to the dollar and immediately I realised how tough it will be for small business," she says.
Song is expecting a tough 2017 as the low value of the pound starts to bite. She expects she will have to lower her margins to absorb the impact of Brexit.
But not everybody is suffering from the falling pound, according to Pure London's show director Julie Driscoll.
"So the exchange rate means for international brands it's really easy for them to enter the UK market, so more than ever before we're seeing international companies, international fashion collections wanting to come to the UK to explore opportunities and indeed this means this is our largest Pure London ever," she says.
One of the foreign fashion brands visiting Pure London for the first time is French jewellery maker Pas Si Sages Bijoux (Not So Wise) from Lyon.
Their funky, Bohemian-inspired jewellery is low/to mid priced and is all designed and produced in France. They are now looking to expand into the British market.
Chloe Chenu, the director of Pas Si Sages Bijoux, demonstrates the latest product - a back necklace.
She believes Brexit has not changed anything in the fashion world and thinks the UK is still a great place to do business... perhaps thanks to the eccentric English style.
"London is always the place for fashion, the most important in the world, even after Brexit, that doesn't change anything. We always come to sell products, English people are always eccentric and they want French products," she says.
It's the same story for Turkish designer Ece Kavran, whose range called Urun features minimalist, classic pieces.
She says London is still top of her list for places to do business because of its pace and willingness to try new brands. She says in France and Italy the market is much slower and more traditional.
"But England is an expandable market, it's forever open to the new idea, to the new brand, and I think that's what makes it, England, very compelling for us," she says.
But fashion is more than just sales and spreadsheets, it's about creating brands - and there is no bigger brand than a country itself. So has brand Britain been tarnished by its decision to leave the EU?
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