British Fashion Council Launches Relief Fund for Businesses Affected by the Coronavirus

Ana Colón

"Now more than ever, we are committed to support the businesses and people that make up our industry."

Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, at the opening of London Fashion Week in February 2020.

After the CFDA and Vogue announced they'd be repurposing their annual Fashion Fund to provide relief to U.S. fashion businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the British Fashion Council launched its own effort to help the U.K. designer community through the ongoing public health crisis. 

The BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund aims to provide monetary support to "creative fashion businesses and individuals" that are feeling a financial burden as a result of the coronavirus, including designers and students. It has taken £1,000,000 from existing talent support grants to provide these emergency funds, but is calling on the U.K. government to provide a stimulus for the fashion industry (plus to take other measures to protect business owners), as well as on individuals to donate if they can. 

"The crisis has seen creative businesses fighting on several fronts," the BFC wrote in a press release. "BFC calls for support for liquidity in the form of grants or long-term low risk loans that address retail cancellations and sell-through guarantees [that] will help businesses address disruption to supply chain and a potential domino effect of failure. BFC also asks for rent holidays for office and retail stores to further protect employment. As a member of the Creative Industries Federation, BFC has also campaigned for additional financial measures to protect the income of creative freelancers who play such a significant role in the fashion industry."

Applications for the BFC Foundation's Covid Crisis Fund will go live "within the next seven days" and will remain open until April 10. There are guidelines for what businesses are eligible to receive aid: 

1. Applicants should have an established designer fashion business.
2. The applicant’s collection should consist primarily of womenswear, menswear, accessories, millinery or fine jewelry – not bridalwear or childrenswear.
3. The applicant's company should be based in the UK and be registered with Companies House or a sole trader.
4. The applicant's company should be majority-owned by the Designer/Creative Director and not have had outside equity funding in any material amount.
5. Grant money requested should relate to a clear purpose to support the business survive over the next year.

In a statement, Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the BFC, said: "Now more than ever, we are committed to support the businesses and people that make up our industry. With the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund and the donations raised, our hope is to support those British businesses that need additional subsidies, beyond Government stimulus available, to address their most urgent challenges."

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