As the thermometers drop into a minus figure and the frost starts to hit the cars, the UK retail industry can breathe a sigh of relief at the rarity of a season arriving on time for a change. A cold snap at the end of November can only mean droves of eager shoppers heading out for their first wave of winter wardrobe shopping in what has been one of the world’s most eventful years both in terms of fashion and politics. 2016 saw the worlds of fashion and politics colliding, often times with a bit of forward thinking irony as in the case of Karl Lagerfeld’s Cruise 2017 collection hosted in the now Westward-looking Cuba. The coincidental passing of Fidel Castro in November will certainly set the stage for fundamental changes for not only the island community but for the entire region.
Fashion as a whole was turned on its ear with movements like never before between many of the major fashion brands. Whether it was Hedi Slimane, Mari Grazia Chiurri, John Galliano or Raf Simons, 2016 was certainly the year of change. If that was the case this year, then what for 2017? Are we to see major brand over-halls? Could we even see the biggest, most established creative directors moving away from their current roles? With continued digital momentum, an even stronger call to fortifying brand’s heritage and craftsmanship core values, the role of the creative director has evolved more from a media-driven rock star to a veritable fashion Head of State. One must question whether the political events of 2016 will have an influence on how the luxury industry will shape and form in the years to come.
Fashion’s two most defining moments of 2016, however, were undoubtedly the UK’s bold move to distance itself from the European financial and diplomatic front with the controversial Brexit referendum and more recently the American election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. The fashion and retail industry stood firmly in the remaining camp only to find that they would be facing a world with Britain as a part player in the European political scene. However, with markets rebounding and the pound starting to rally even the most radical of remainers will be starting to see a potential light not too far in the distance. Certainly, the tills across the UK will be celebrating the situation when the coffers are counted. Record numbers were being achieved by major retailers following Brexit which saw the pound fall to levels not seen for a long time, this combined with the unfortunate events in Paris earlier in the year has brought a huge increase in foreign shopping tourists to London and lit up the faces on many Retail Directors faces.
We also woke up in 2016 to the news of Donald Trump in the US, who fought a bitter and aggressive campaign battle against Secretary Hillary Clinton, winning his seat as President -Elect and soon to be President of the free world. His first 100 days will be the first indicator of what campaign promises will be upheld. And though, like Brexit, his presidency has already been riddled with controversy, if his views on spending take a foothold, the American economy, and particular the luxury goods sector could benefit from what has been already considered the most radical of political moves of our times.
Grant Morris, CEO Elite Associates
Artwork: Peter Carrick