APPG for Textiles and Fashion: Visas and employment in the garment manufacturing sector recommendations from the APPG for Textiles and Fashion.


After decades of decline, British clothing manufacturing has seen renewed interest from brands and is facing interesting growth prospects. However, the EU exit process and its implications on freedom of movement sparked worry across employers in the sector – most of their workers are EEA citizens. After hearing growing concerns from the sector, the APPG for Textiles and Fashion convened a meeting to investigate the sentiments regarding Brexit and the future of UK manufacturing, counting with the presence of factory owners across the UK, as well as academics, machinists and government officials. Attendees had a chance to voice their concerns during the meeting, as well as responding to a questionnaire that sheds light on the current state of the sector.

The Fashion and Textiles Industry

The Fashion and textile industry employs almost 1 million workers nationwide, with a huge potential for increase as brands are returning to the UK in a shift towards local manufacturing. However, if manufacturers cannot meet current demand for staffing, the future growth of the sector faces severe risks. 

Following a sharp decline in UK manufacturing since the 1980s, the textiles, footwear and clothing manufacturing sector has experienced a period of growth starting from 2011. Reasons include a shift to lean production models, which favour quick turnaround times by producing locally, and the international appeal of the ‘Made in Britain’ tag. 

However, sector stakeholders expressed hesitation and uncertainty: in addition to feeling unsupported by local governments and business policies, the event of the EU exit poses a huge threat to access to skilled labour. There is interest from brands in British manufacturing, but respondents to the survey suggested that the lack of skilled talent is the most pressing obstacle to growth, as many UK citizens do not currently have the necessary high level skills or interest to take up machinist technicians and garment manufacturing roles. 

To address these concerns, this paper explores the idea of including machine operator and garment manufacturing roles in the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) allowing for machinists to be hired internationally. 

Skills in the Shortage Occupation List

The UK is due to leave the European Union since the triggering of Article 50. With Brexit, free movement between the UK and EU member states will cease and EU citizens seeking to move to the UK for permanent employment will require a visa. Under the current visa system, the Tier 2 route is utilised for general work. The Tier 2 visa has a number of requirements, including an immigration cap, a salary threshold, sponsorship from a certified organisation, a skills requirements and a citizen test. The Home Office is responsible for overseeing migration practices, with migration policies falling under the scrutiny of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office.

The Tier 2 provides a number of barriers for non-EEA citizens to access jobs in the UK, but there are systems in place to ensure that immigration is supporting the UK economy. Compiled by the MAC, job roles that are considered to be in shortage of supply in the UK are included in the SOL and are exempt from a number of requirements.

The conditions for roles being added to the SOL are: 

  • Skill level RQF 6 and above, with skills level being lowered to RQF 3 after the EU exit implementation period
  • £30,000 salary threshold for established professionals
  • Eligible for the Tier 2 (General) route

Applicants being considered for roles in the SOL are exempt from some Tier 2 visa requirements:

  • There is no need for applicants to pass the resident labour market test,
  • Jobs are prioritised if the Tier 2 (General ) limit of 20,700 is reached, and in practice, jobs in the SOL cannot be turned down when the cap binds,
  • No requirement to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required for obtaining settlement after 5 years

Manufacturers operating in the textiles, clothing and footwear sectors are struggling to fill current vacancies and Brexti will cut an important source of labour. This paper explores the idea of including the following roles in the SOL, to facilitate employment after Brexit: 5411 Weavers and knitters, 5413 Footwear and leather working trades, 5414 Tailors and dress-makers and 5419 Textiles. However, given the current conditions for jobs to be included in the SOL, this paper also outlines recommendations for new criteria for the SOL.

Textiles, clothing and footwear manufacturing in the SOL

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion surveyed manufacturers across the UK to map the current state of employment in the UK garment manufacturing sector. Out of the respondents surveyed, more than half employed EEA citizens for machinist roles, and only around 20% employed non-EEA citizens. Manufacturers based in Greater London boasted the highest number of EEA machinists relative to their machinist workforce, whereas manufacturers based in the East Midlands, which includes manufacturing hotspots such as Leicester, had the highest number of domicile workers. Across all regions, no manufacturer employed more non-EEA citizens than they did either British nationals or EEA nationals.

Furthermore, more than 80% of respondents currently have unfilled machinist vacancies, and out of the manufacturers who have openings, the number of vacancies account for an average of 65% of existing positions. One respondent reported six open positions for every position filled. When asked whether the UK currently has sufficient domestic skill and interest to fulfil the empty roles, more than three quarters of respondents answered ‘No’. Furthermore, more than half of respondents think Brexit will contribute to an increase in machinist vacancies – a worrying amount, considering that respondents have cited up to 30 machinist vacancies per factory. If employers are currently struggling to recruit, the process will be further complicated after freedom of movement with the European Union ceases.

Respondents also noted that in manufacturing hotspots such as Leicester, there is very high competition for labour supply, which puts smaller manufacturers at a disadvantage. Bringing in foreign workers would increase the labour supply, allowing the industry to further prosper as it would sustain the operation of existing companies without taking local jobs. The lack of skilled labour could potentially risk local jobs, as factories that are unable to continue their operations due to lack of labour could choose to relocate. 

Job recognition

Currently, the MAC has four SIC codes for roles that would be relevant for the textiles manufacturing industry: 5411 Weavers and knitters, 5413 Footwear and leather working trades, 5414 Tailors and dress-makers and 5419 Textiles, garments and related trades not elsewhere classified. The jobs listed within these occupations do not fully encompass the spectrum of functions within the sector, and the SIC roles do not distinguish between bespoke tailoring services and larger production (i.e. to fulfill brand orders), which require different skills. Stakeholders identified three main roles within garment manufacturing: machine operators, pattern cutters and garment technologists. According to the National Careers Service, the roles of Pattern cutters, Garment (sewing) machine operators and Garment technologists are the following:

Machine operator

  • Changing machine settings for different jobs
  • Feeding material through the machine
  • Stitching together clothes or other items
  • Checking finished work against the pattern instructions
  • Cleaning and oiling machines
  • Sewing different fabrics like cotton, wool, leather or industrial textiles

Pattern cutter

  • Draping pieces of material over a dummy, shaping and pinning them around the ‘body’ until they fit correctly, then cutting out a pattern based on the pieces
  • Altering and shaping flat, standard pattern ‘blocks’ into a style
  • Modifying non-standard pattern ‘bases’ taken from the company’s pattern library
  • Working with machinists to make up samples
  • Using computer-aided design programs to make up some patterns
  • Using traditional hand-drawing methods
  • Working closely with the in-house sample machinist or manufacturer to make up an example garment
  • Working with designers and garment technologists to produce the final pattern

Garment technologist

  • Suggesting changes to clothing pattern designs
  • Giving advice on suitable fabrics
  • Making sure garments can be produced within budget
  • Overseeing fabric testing and fittings of first samples
  • Making sure that the correct garment construction methods are used
  • Responding to product queries
  • Analysing product returns and faults
  • Producing quality control reports


  • Adding a distinct occupation for Garment machine operators
  • Adding a distinct occupation for Pattern cutters
  • Add a distinct occupation for Garment technologist
  • Distinguish between tailor and Seamstress/ dressmaker

Skills level

Currently, the Migration Advisory Committee sets the skill level for Tier 2 at RQF 6 for all occupations, with an exception to the creative industries, where the minimum requirement is an RQF level. The RQF level requirement is not in relation to the applicant’s education, but the educational requirements of the role. Machinists and garment manufacturing workers are currently listed as RQF level 3. 

Highly skilled does not always mean highly paid: this is seen again and again across the fashion and textiles sector. More than 80% of respondents consider stitching to be a high-skilled job, the rest consider it to be medium skilled. No respondents thought it to be a low skilled job. The skill requirement is further evidenced by the five years of training necessary to become a skilled operator. One respondent noted that there may be up to 14 different operations necessary for the completion of a garment, which is not a task for a low-skilled workforce. The Home Office declared their intention to reduce the RQF requirements for Tier 2 visas from RQF 6 to RQF 3 after the end of the EU exit implementation period.

It is recognised that investing in local skills should be a priority, and should not be replaced by bringing international labour, a point flagged by a respondent and emphasised by the MAC. However, respondents also noted that machine operating jobs are not of interest to the UK workforce, therefore providing training would not solve the skills shortage. F


  • Revising the level qualification framework which looks beyond traditional qualifications
  • Including RQF 3 level jobs in the SOL

Salary level

The Tier 2 visa requires a minimum of £30,000 annual salary as an experienced hire, and £20,800 as a ‘new entrant’. The MAC’s justification for the £30,000 threshold is £30,000 is the level of household income at which an average family of EEA migrants starts making a positive contribution to public finances. Gauging appropriate salary levels is an imprecise feat: according to the ONS, the weekly average earnings of the Manufacturing – textiles, footwear and clothing sector is £428 (July 2019). 

The MAC puts the average salary for those SOC roles at £18,100, which would be £348 weekly salary. The majority of respondents claimed their machinists earned between £280 and £380 weekly. These did not take into consideration regional discrepancies, but according to the data collected by the APPG, the manufacturers offering the highest average weekly salary were based in Greater London, with an average of £488, followed by the South East at £319.75. The lowest weekly averages were in the North East £231 and £264 in the West Midlands. 

The MAC is currently carrying out a consultation on the future immgration system in the UK, which will review salary levels, as their recommendation to maintain the £30,000 threshold set out in the review of the SOL was not accepted by the government. One respondent observed that UK workers would not earn £30,000 in a machinist role, therefore it is unrealistic to expect non-UK workers to earn that amount.


  • Make salary thresholds industry-specific
  • Take into consideration regional discrepancies
  • Revise minimum working hours


Overall, a loss of skilled workers across the industry’s extended supply chain would severely impact the vibrant £33bn fashion sector, and could trigger manufacturers to move from the UK to EU territory generating negative consequences for the country’s economic prospects. As well as supporting industry growth, fostering local production has strong environmental and socio-economic arguments. These include boosting the local economies and developing resources for provision of skills, as well as reducing emissions from transport due to a reduced the distance between producer and seller. It can also be argued that local production allows for better monitoring and regulation of labour conditions and including machinist workers in the SOL could be a useful way to secure safe and transparent labour, as undocumented workers risk seeking jobs in unregulated factories thus being subject to exploitation. 

A coherent education, immigration and business government strategy is necessary to secure the prosperity of the sector – government should support a framework that provides an attractive landscape for new players and to provide certainty for existing manufacturers so that they can make the necessary investments to grow their businesses. 

Tamara Cincik CEO of Fashion Roundtable, Secretariat for the APPG for Textiles and Fashion said: “the General Election has taken place and now it is important that the concerns of the fashion industry are front and centre of immigration policy post Brexit, ensuring that our thriving UK fashion sector remains buoyant and successful. By advocating that fashion manufacturing workers are added to the shortage occupation visa list, we hope the UK fashion sector, which relies heavily on immigrant skilled workers will not be decimated by a huge exodus of talent. We recognise the need to build these skills back into the UK’s educational provision, something which flagships, such as Fashion Enter have worked hard to support, with their educational platforms. Fashion is a UK success story and we aim to ensure it continues to remain through transition and beyond.”

Please note that the All Party Parliamentary Group For Textiles and Fashion will be hosting its parliamentary AGM and planning meeting for the year ahead in January.



11:40: Meeting begins.

Tamara Cincik, CEO and Founder of Fashion Roundtable

Welcomes attendees, apologises for Bethany Williams’ absence. Asks for meeting to be respectful, positive, and to focus on opportunities and solutions.

Dr Lisa Cameron, Scottish National Party MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

  • Deliverts introduction and asks for all attendees to introduce themselves
  • Cozette McCreery Speaks instead of Rahemur Rahman
  • Comments on Brexit and the proroguing of Parliament 
  • The work of the APPG for Textiles and Fashion spans across many aspects of the fashion industry, and is very valuable: the Group champions sustainable young designers, inclusion, diversity and is taking evidence from BAME and marginalised groups for the Representation and Inclusion in the Fashion Industry Policy Paper. 
  • Fashion and world of fashion has many stereotypes, and the APPG wants to showcase all of abilities in the industry
  • The APPG for Sustainable Clothing and Textiles has recently launched, and will focus specifically on sustainability, conducting their own research and consultations
  • How can the people in this room support both APPGs and how can the APPGs support sustainable industry growth
  • The UK’s brands and manufacturing have an international reputation
  • Sustainability requires the industry to move forward, and policies need to foster growth, which is why the involvement of stakeholders is essential
  • The Issue of Extinction Rebellion (XR) calling to cancel fashion week requires dialogue, support and respect

Asks Sara Arnold, Extinction Rebellion, Boycott Fashion Team to outline key issues as Lisa is blown over by new designers, what they are doing and where their work will lead the industry to.

Speaker: Sara Arnold, Extinction Rebellion Boycott Fashion Team

  • Asks to take a moment of silence to think of people, plants and the earth: we are all here for a common cause
  • There is a twelve year deadline for fighting climate
  • Change needs to happen immediately, 2050 is too far
  • Increasing Carbon emissions by 10% would result in a 2 degree warming
  • Government needs to support stopping emissions, so that the temperature does not rise by 0.5 – 1.5 degrees, which could set off a Feedback Loop Mechanism that could not be stopped i.e. Arctic and Permafrost melting releasing trapped gases and the Amazon forest becoming a carbon producer instead of a carbon sink
  • Rise in 2 degrees means deaths and extinction 
  • Only 4% of wild animals remain in the planet, we are losing fertile soil which can be completely gone in 30 – 40 yrs, there has been a significant drop in the number of insects and oceans are acidifying
  • A climate crisis will result in war, such as the war in Syria 

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Asks for the conversation to be focused on the fashion industry

Sara Arnold

  • If the industry continues under business as usual, we will not able put food on plates
  • Everyone here to make business sustainable but we have run out of time
  • The creativity in the fashion industry can be channelled to create change, but the current system does not work
  • London Fashion Week is a cultural hub, and if it carries on it sends the message that things are ok; XR’s call asks for culture to stand up and take responsibility

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • We are not here to continue on business as usual, and players in the fashion industry need to question how they can use their influence
  • The fashion industry has the potential to shape choices of the consumers

Tamara Cincik

  • What is XR doing to target high street and fast fashion
  • Agrees that LFW is a high-light event and not producer of fast fashion, which is the main culprit behind the pollution and emissions of the sector

Sara Arnold

  • Actions taken at/ by LFW echo through world wide network – asking to cancel LFW is symbolic
  • This is not an ask, it’s a protest

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Fast fashion happens across the world
  • LFW is Iconic, and if it champions sustainable fashion it and can be seen as moving industry forward

Floor – Roxy Erickson, Director at Sunbeam Studios

  • Despite most of the people in the room conducting business in a ‘sustainable’ manner, what Sara is trying to say is that it is not enough
  • The industry has to manage extinction, or there will be no fashion industry
  • Ask Parliament to be far more revolutionary that it currently is
  • XR’s role is not to provide solutions, but to highlight the problem

Sara Arnold

  • We need to ask parliament to shut down Fashion 

Karen Binns, Fashion Director at Fashion Roundtable

  • Shutting down fashion and LFW is not the answer, the first target has to be high street and fast fashion brands

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Do you think consumers are aware?

Cozette McCreery, Brand Ambassador for Iceberg

  • Cancelling LFW is not the answer
  • If Jamie Oliver is able to get Sugar tax through Parliament, the fashion industry can propose a similar measure
  • The industry need to change structure, so that consumer pays for items knowing their real cost
  • From a PR perspective, it is important to think of how to convince customers that making an outfit for £20 is unfeasible, and the costs are usually cut by poor working conditions and pay below minimum wage

Tamara Cincik

  • Fashion Roundtable are working with Baroness Lola Young to address these issues
  • The Environmental Audit Committee made 18 recommendations in their Fixing Fashion Report, and none were adopted by the government
  • Feels that the government should introduce tax incentives to encourage transparency and good practice
  • The aim of these sessions is to formulate policy asks and put them forward to Parliament


Why are Bristish Fashion Council (BFC) not here?

Tamara Cincik, clarifies the BFC were invited and are invited to all APPG meetings

Jodi Muter-Hamilton explains that XR have met with BFC 

Tamara Cincik

  • We need to create a positive and inclusive sector, but the sector still follows a 20th Century model

Bernice Pan, Founder and Creative Director at DEPLOY

  • Brands, manufacturers, consumers, press and government are all working against each other, and the system has been failing for a long time
  • BFC needs to work with the Department of Education and educational institutions to deliver a coherent fashion education
  • As consumers, we have power to affect change
  • When designers and creatives make something, they need to remember who the products are being designed for, rather than assume and invisible consumer
  • Mindset needs to change
  • Fashion business needs to change structurally through education so that professionals are aware of what they are designing: fabric that are toxic, and how they are made
  • British education is better than most

Rebecca Munro, Communications Director for the London College of Fashion

  • In the last 10 years, LFC have worked on providing a well-rounded education to students, but have seen resistance from the sector. Currently, students are required to take a module on Ethics and Sustainability
  • We are teaching the next generation of students that they need to make money responsibly
  • BFC needs to look at how and where they invest their resources

Bernice Pan

  • Notes it’s great Burberry is present, but where are creative directors and designers in the room?
  • Creative directors and designers need education on the environmental and social repercussions of fashion – pollution and human exploitation in the supply chain


  • Consumers are getting fashion information through the media, which has the purpose of incentivizing consumption. The impacts of fashion are not taught in school or university. 
  • Anecdote: an attendee met a geologist who was ignorant of the environmental impacts of fashion
  • Big brands have a lot of money, and should have a responsibility of educating consumers, but instead play a role in perpetuating the lack of information

Bel Jacobs, Extinction Rebellion Boycott Fashion Team

  • Fashion should be a cultural vehicle for change
  • XR is not calling for the end of creativity or creative expression, but the end of the fashion industry
  • The creativity of those in the fashion industry should be used to come up with climate change solutions

Karen Binns

  • There is little benefit in shutting down LFW and its brands and doing nothing to target high street brands and fast fashion, which have the biggest due to their size: agriculture, workforce, supply chain, production.

Bel Jacobs

  • Overproduction is damaging to the environment

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks Burberry team what they think their role is

Cecilia Coonan, Corporate Relations Director at Burberry

  • Burberry takes a transparent approach to their production and supply chain, and has set transparency and sustainability targets, e.g.:
    • Transparent supply chains 2030
    • Transitioning to circular supply
    • Tracking carbon footprint of fashion shows

Dr Lisa Cameron MP notes she is unaware of Burberry initiatives and asks for them to be looked at by APPG

Tamara Cincik notes the importance of gathering opinions from the attendees to formulate concise policy asks

Bernice Pam

  • Rather than asking for changes in taxation, made it required for brands to disassemble unsold stock. This will push brands to re-evaluate production quantities and produce clothes using fibres that are easier to recycle.
  • Recycling is not the solution – we cannot recycle plastic fast enough to address the problem

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks attendees to be pragmatic in their asks: what can we take back and things we can push

Marko Matysik, Founder and Creative Director of Marko Matysik

  • Tax toxic materials – but this would require a review of what is considered toxic, as plastic and certain dyes are toxic for the environment but are not considered to be
  • Rewards and incentives for brands that adopt ethical and sustainable practices

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks for attendees to submit examples of best-practice

Roxy Erickson

  • Look at the end of life of products
  • Certifications for SMEs is so difficult needs to be free
  • Ban fabrics and dyes dangerous to humanity
  • Education and information to be made available on tags

Dr Lisa Cameron MP 

  • Block chain technology can used to track the products that make a garment
  • Highlights the potential usage of a system such as Traffic light system, similar to what is in use for food items

Jodi Muter Hamilton

  • States she has been working on a garment traffic system for several years and there are many challenges of constructing a traffic light system for clothing:
    • Accuracy of data, as many times the brands do not know what happens in their supply chains. The information/rating is only as good as the data
    • There are many certifications and organisations that have created their own ratings that would need to be included, a collaborative approach is essential
    • A lot of information to aggregate, technology can help. Brand can be verified operationally, but then each individual product would be certified

Dr Lisa Cameron MP asks if London can champion sustainable fashion?


  • There are many positive/ sustainable/ ethical fashion initiatives in London, but these are smaller and fragmented
  • Initiatives and events do not have the same visibility as the Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Sara Arnold

  • Wants the BFC to engage in conversation, so that LFW can be used as a platform to champion solutions 
  • Actions happening over fashion week please join us
  • Focus on XR’s 3rd ask, that government use citizen’s assemblies

Dr Lisa Cameron MP: introduces speakers

Cozette McCreery will be talking about:

  • Designers in LFW working with artisan skills
  • Government supporting UK manufacturing, as government support is vital but severely lacking
  • Support and recognition to give them voice 
  • Fashion not taken seriously, it is seen as a hippy idea so policy makers and institutions think it is coming from bad standpoint
  • Discussions about manufacturing center around cars, fashion and textiles is mostly overlooked

Cozette McCreery

  • We need to look at our image
  • Creative directors – know their responsibility and it is difficult using celebrity to promote positive change
  • There is a change from people within the industry but this is different to having a voice
  • There is discrepancy Marketing and support noting in the best interest of BFC
  • BFC – not working and they need to get into conversations

Dr Lisa Cameron MP, industry, consumers and policy makers should be more aware of sustainable fashion initiatives, such as those outlined by Burberry. Another example are trainers made using ocean plastic.

Speaker: Patrick McDowell, Founder and Creative Director of Patrick McDowell

  • Works with waste fabric from Burberry, but this has come from financial rather than sustainable considerations
  • Important to have more designers in the room, as designers have a responsibility, it is easy to become lazy
  • Education is very important
  • Creative Directors play a huge role, they are very rarely denied what they want for shows
  • Designers should adopt the mentality of using what already exists: lots of waste fabrics
  • The fashion system that currently operates was started by Worth in late 19th Century and has not changed since
  • Life without plastic and with less production is possible; mentions this was his GRandmother’s reality and she is still alive

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Packaging has to be addressed
  • Sustainable Education as part of the curriculum

Floor notes the power of marketing, and that things need to appear cool and attractive to the individual

Cozette McCreery

  • Suggests using Edward Enninful at Vogue to promote sustainability

Claire Lissaman, Director: Product and Impact at Common Objective

  • Need to devise a strategy to clean up the industry
  • Media and industry has to share stories about what is happening – positives and negatives
  • 2020 has sense of emergency 
  • Burberry has looked at science and revenue, but all of their initiatives are all voluntary
  • Current pace is not fast enough, we need to take it up 20 notches

Floor – Not seeing designers and journalist successfully communicating environmental implications of fashion to the consumers, magazine titles not interested in what we are saying

Tamara Cincik reads Bethany William’s statement:

‘I believe that London is a place of growth and change. I’m part of a design community which really is trying to find sustainable solutions and this community needs to be protected and supported. We need positive critique and positive solutions so we can all move forward together’.

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

  • Policy can use nudge theory, tactics that make it more convenient for the consumer to make the ‘right’ choices. E.g. Football violence fell by changing games from Saturdays to Sundays

Sara Arnold

  •  We are facing a climate emergency: if global temperature rises by 2 – 3 degrees we will not be able to put food on our plates, and yet we are talking about clothes
  • We do not want fashion to end, but the fashion industry is over and we need to understand how to transition from that

Dr Lisa Cameron MP final remarks and thanks attendees

13:07: Meeting ends.

Statement by Rahemur Rahman, Creative Director of Rahemur Rahman, who was originally attending at a speaking capacity but was unable to make the meeting:

“Fashion is a huge industry, and one that supports many people who aren’t as privileged as ourselves. Talking about sustainability is a privilege we can’t take lightly; the majority of the people I work with and grew up with were sustainable because of the lack of economic freedom. Sweeping comments taking out London Fashion Week show the lack of research done by the people supporting it. Around the table sit designers, who like myself, are creating new systems of fashion that aren’t anything like fast fashion. Our beliefs and ethics overlap. I hope you can see that cancelling London Fashion Week also cancels how my business works, which upholds sustainable practices and supports the lives of weavers and artisans in Bangladesh who otherwise would be working in fast fashion. London Fashion Week supports a lot of people and businesses and unless we find a sustainable way to create new jobs for all these people to go to, we have to work more sustainably in its current system, which I think a lot of new and established designers are achieving. I agree that the industry needs to change, but it won’t be like this. It has to be through policy making and fashion being in political spaces where decisions are had. We are stronger together, because our aims are the same, so why create more divides when we are constantly surrounded by them.”


Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Scottish National Party

Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

Tamara Cincik

Fashion Roundtable 

CEO and Founder

Amelia Curwen

Fashion Roundtable

Brand and Marketing Specialist

Roberta Kirosingh

Scottish National Party

Personal Assistant to Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Rafaella de Freitas

Fashion Roundtable

Policy Research Assistant

Bella Web

Central Saint Martins

MA Fashion Journalism student

Esther Maughan McLachlan

The Communications Store

Senior Director, Purpose and Sustainability

Rob Jones

Teatum Jones

Creative Director

Catherine Teatum

Teatum Jones

Creative Director

Catherine Bowman

Modus BPCM

Managing Director

Laura Gibson

Black Neon Digital


Sarah Kent

Business of Fashion

Senior Correspondent

Tamison O’Connor

Business of Fashion


Patrick McDowell

Patrick McDowell

Creative Director

Cozette McCreery


Connector & Brand Ambassador

Bel Jacobs

Extinction Rebellion

Boycott Fashion Team

Sara Arnold

Extinction Rebellion

Boycott Fashion Team

Laura Frandsen

Extinction Rebellion

Boycott Fashion Team

Alice Wilby

Extinction Rebellion

Boycott Fashion Team

Marko Matysik

Marko Matysik


Bernice Pan


Founder and Creative Director

Claudia Simms


Marketing Director

Roxy Erickson

Sunbeam Studios


Clare Lissaman

Common Objective

Director, Product and Impact

Rebecca Munro

London College of Fashion

Acting Head of Communications

Pamela Batty


Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility

Cecilia Coonan


Corporate Relations Director

Paul March


Global Director of Asset and Profit Protection

Phillipa Cowburn


Corporate Relations Manager 

Fiona Carter 

Fashion Roundtable

Minute taker

Fashion Roundtable and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles launch London Fashion Week Representation and Inclusion in the fashion industry campaign to drive evidence and survey respondents.

Representation and Inclusion Policy Paper

Today Tuesday 3rd September 2019, marks the soft launch for Fashion Roundtable and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles Representation and Inclusion in the Fashion Industry #areyourepresented campaign. During London Fashion Week (13th – 17th September) our street teams will meet with fashion insiders to ensure our survey connects with all within our fashion sector, driving evidence and survey respondents for our upcoming Representation and Inclusion in the Fashion Industry policy paper. 

Fashion generates a £60bn turnover each year for the UK economy, as the largest part of the fastest growing sector, the creative industries are forecast to grow to £150bn GVA by 2023. Yet BAME and those from less advantaged backgrounds with access to jobs in the fashion design economy are currently cited at just 9% for both groups, according to data released for the launch of the Creative Sector Industrial Strategy last year by DCMS and NESTA. This is visibly lower than the BAME figures for London which are currently at 33% of the population. Globally there are 1.3bn people with disabilities, representing a market the size of China, and in the UK the spending power of disabled people and their households, known as the purple pound, is worth £249bn. 

Fashion Roundtable’s Representation & Inclusion in the Fashion Industry Paper will focus on will focus on BAME and Equality Act Disabled persons and consider religious and LGTBQ+ identity. This is the first time that fashion has been called to give evidence and share its insights across such important issues and offers a fantastic opportunity for the industry to not only raise its concerns, but also generate solutions. 

Tamara Cincik CEO and Founder of Fashion Roundtable said: “I am so excited to be launching this important and timely policy work. Fashion has always led in cultural narratives with amazing visuals which make all our minds soar with dreams and aspirations. But it is time for fashion to be as inclusive as a business as it is magical in its visuals. We cannot carry on having fashion shows in wheelchair inaccessible venues and consumers who are marginalised by a lack of inclusion: be that non-binary citizens, who are unable to try on clothes in-store, to a focus on youth markets which doesn’t cut through to consumers over 27, and of course a structural imbalance, which means despite this being a sector filled with super talented women, we still have men at the top of the career triangle, meaning the gender pay gap is actually going backwards. By creating this work, we hope we can highlight and indeed reverse these inequalities and thereby improve access, reach and opportunity for many more within our wonderfully creative community to realise their potential.”

The policy work is being led by Dr Royce Mahawatte, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at CSM, with an advisory committee including Caryn Franklin MBE, Karen Binns, Sara Ali, Eden Loweth from ArtSchool London, Claire Barnett from UN Women, Meg Ellis from iWeigh, Grace Woodward, Cynthia Lawrence John, Michelle Noel, Lottie Jackson, Jamie Winddust, Alex Pleasants from APPG for Diversity, Tolu Coker, Zowie Broach Head of Fashion from the RCA, Zebedee Management and more.

During London Fashion Week our street team will aim to gather oral evidence and survey responses, to add to the qualitative and quantitative research for the forthcoming paper. We shall then host our evidence sessions at the Houses of Parliament.

Notes to editors

If you would like to support the campaign please see and contact or click on the link here to be supplied with additional imagery and information. Please also follow on social media #areyourepresented 

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Fashion Roundtable LTD is the only fashion-focused consultancy providing industry leading events, public affairs and policy. Fashion Roundtable Organisation LTD is our NFP which covers our APPG and policy work. 

Fashion Roundtable’s founder, Tamara Cincik, has over 20 years’ experience in the industry and since the launching Fashion Roundtable, has spoken publicly on Fashion & Politics with a range of high profile business press including SKY TV, Vogue Business and Business Of Fashion. 

Fashion Roundtable’s community includes the most influential Fashion Activists and politicians such as Katherine Hamnett CBE, Nick Knight OBE, Sarah Mower MBE, designers including Ashish, Richard Malone and Bethany Williams winner of this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Award For Design, as well as All Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion members including Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Dame Eleanor Laing, John McNally MP, Rushanara Ali MP, Catherine West MP and Andrea Jenkyns MP.

APPG for Textiles and Fashion Meeting on 10/09/2019 with Extinction Rebellion


The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion have organised a meeting bringing together voices of the fashion industry, to discuss Extinction Rebellion’s call to cancel London Fashion Week, in respect of the urgent climate and ecological emergency.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday, 10th of September, 11:30 – 12:30 at the Houses of Parliament. Please confirm attendance as soon as possible, with as spaces are very limited. If attending, please do allow 45 minutes to go through parliamentary security.

APPG for Textile and Fashion x Fashion Enter: Visas and Employment in the Garment Manufacturing Sector Agenda


Monday 8th July 2019


  • Tamara Cincik Secretariat for the APPG for Textiles and Fashion


  • Caroline Nokes MP, Minister of State for Immigration
  • Lord Young of Norwood Green
  • Jenny Holloway, CEO and Founder of Fashion-Enter
  • Professor Jonathan Portes, Senior Fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe
  • Peter Gambrill, Economist for the Migration Advisory Committee
  • Kate Hills, CEO and Founder of Make it British
  • Jack Tindale, Policy Manager for Design and Innovation, Policy Connect

Speaker: Caroline Nokes MP, Minister of State for Immigration

  • Notes the importance of the creative industries for the UK, and that this is at least the fourth event about the creative industries that the Minister has attended recently
  • The Home Office is undertaking one year of engagement with industries on the proposed post Brexit skills-based immigration system

Jenny Holloway, CEO of Fashion Enter

  • The skill level of machinists are not recognised in government standards, according to data being collected by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion, 81% of manufacturers believe fashion machinists are highly skilled, and the rest of respondents believe machinists are medium skilled
  • Issue with salary threshold being too high, £30,000 is not a realistic wage for machinists, the average pay according to respondents is £11 – £19.

James Stewart, Burberry

  • There is a disconnect between skills and salary. Machinists are under-valued in and by the fashion industry, when in fact they are very skilled.

Caroline Nokes MP 

  • Questions whether salary is a good proxy for skill
  • Questions how to best reflect the worth and value of a job role
  • Notes that different skills have to be defined, but this is not a straight-forward task.

Floor – Dawn Foxall, Foxology

  • We need to teach skills and work ethic. 
  • £30,000 threshold does not acknowledge regional disparities: it goes nowhere in London, whereas in Castleford £30,000 goes a lot further because the cost of living is lower, for example, people can walk to work.

Charlie Baker-Collingwood, Henry Herbert Tailors

  • As well as skilled workers, there is a need for good managers to inspire work ethic
  • It appears that UK graduates are interested in the glamour of the fashion industry rather than in the craft skills
  • From their experience, EU workers have the craft and technical skills lacking in the UK workforce

Caroline Nokes MP

  • The UK cannot rely on immigration to solve challenges in its labour force; the lack of skills needs to be dealt with via education
  • The problem of Brexit will not come from the current EU nationals leaving, but instead from EU migrants not being able to enter
  • Even though immigration is negative for some EU countries (e.g. Polish citizens are leaving the country), it remains positive for other EU countries such as Romania
  • Emphasis on the importance of listening to different industries to make sure that immigration policy will not be harmful for the UK economy.

Tamara Cincik

  • The importance of a coherent government strategy for encouraging the growth of the sector, one department cannot be emphasising the importance of STEAM when the DfE is promoting STEM through the EBacc
  • It is difficult to find sewers for UK manufacturing if children and young adults have never sewed in school, hence why it is so difficult for Jennifer Holloway at Fashion-Enter to find skilled domestic labour.

Caroline Nokes MP

  • The Minister noted that her personal view on education is to encourage children and youth to be passionate about something: “Passion is the most important thing for any child to have towards their learning.”

Tamara Cincik 

  • There is an underappreciation of the arts in relation to other sectors, the arts generate more than banking and the car industry, with fashion as the largest component of the creative sector
  • It is necessary to encourage domicile talent to support the sector.

Jenny Holloway

  • It is problematic that secondary school education does not support needlework and stitching as previously. The agenda is different. T-levels are vitally important but they need esteemed parity with A levels. There is support for Tlevels with manufacturing. 

Caroline Nokes MP

  • Students need to have the option of studying a variety of qualifications, and the reputation and value of art and STEM subjects should be equal

Alastair Knox, CEO of ASBCI

  • As a voice of suppliers to industry, I am keen to make the education system work, providing skilled workforce. We currently endorse the Handcraft Tailor Scholarship Award, coordinated by the Handcraft Tailor Academy – with support from Dugdale Bros & Co., The Textile Institute and the ASBCI
  • Drew parallels with Navid Neiper’s Academy.
  • David Leaper Company took the initiative and have built links with local schools to develop home grown talent and not rely just on overseas skilled labour

Caroline Nokes MP

  • The need to invest in how manufacturers are attracting people, for example, the Minister spoke to the CEO of a factory firm, who had not advertised for 10 years and was wondering why they have no skilled staff

Helen Lax Director of Fashion District

  • Schools need to encourage careers in Fashion and arts other than the bits into all the other possible routes
  • T-Levels and other technical and creative qualifications provide a 360 qualification
  • It is no longer the case that generations from the same families work in manufacturing, and families working for generations in manufacturing are encouraging their children to enter other professions.  
  • The career pipeline needs to be refreshed, as employees are not going in, in the way they used to

Jenny Holloway

  • It takes 5-6 years for a machinist to be trained to a high standard

Caroline Nokes MP

  • The Home Office consultation for the new immigration system will be open until 2021, and government appreciates the importance of getting it right

10:27 Caroline Nokes MP leaves

Tamara Cincik Introduces Lord Young of Norwood Green 

Speaker: Lord Young

  • Noted that it is very positive that the Minister was present and engaging
  • Seeking to train with local schools and be more than just a think tank
  • In speaking to manufacturers, Lord Young noticed that many graduates do not know how to make the garments they design, and it is frustrating that Fashion degrees are deficient in this aspect

Jenny Holloway

  • At FEL their Fashion Technology Academy offers training and qualifications in all aspects of fashion production from level 1 – 5
  • The £30,000 threshold is based on a weak assumptions that high wage is indicative of high skill and a low wage is indicative of low skill
  • Retailers both within the UK and  overseas are looking for local production, which offers a potential for growth within the UK. 
  • Emphasis on the importance of maintaining high quality of working conditions if the sector is going to further expand
  • The technology used at FEL secures transparency at all stages of production.

Lord Young

  • Factories need to pay minimum wage and think about London wage
  • UK offer greater work flexibility, the full-time model is no longer fitting for the UK labour force

Tamara Cincik

  • The government needs to reduce legal hurdles, so that it becomes easier to employ skilled staff overseas

Lord Young

  • Good working standards are essential if the aim is to make the industry and job more attractive to youth and graduates

Jenny Holloway

  • There is a need to recognise that fast fashion is not a dirty word, fast means lower quantities of buys that sell out so there is  less waste and greater sell-through. Production can be made 2-3 weeks so it’s trend lead and hence best seller. 


  • Jenny is opening a Tailoring Academy thanks to the GLA’s Good Growth Fund but are currently finding it difficult to employ highly skilled tailors.

Jenny introduces Yan sample machinist who has worked with her for several years and could bring other Chinese staff who are well trained, but cannot without a visa. 

Jenny Holloway

  • FEL  “desperate” for highly trained  staff to fulfil growing orders; lost 2 immediately after the Brexit vote, and another 6 since
  • Yan brought 3 highly skilled machinists to meet Jenny, but they could not be employed because they did not have the correct visa

Speaker: UK in Changing Europe Deputy Director – Jonathan Portes

  • Impact of Brexit has been estimated at 2.3% to the UK economy
  • The value of the pound fell
  • Labour market is resilient at all time high mostly full-time
  • Last few months have seen the worst impacts, due to the uncertainty of how Brexit will be carried out
  • There has been a reduction in business investments
  • Economic growth slowing and will potentially become stagnant


  • The fall of half million in immigration is not that substantial
  • The change of regime provides an opportunity for a more lenient immigration policies, as Theresa May has been the most restrictive PM in living memory in terms of immigration


Speaker: Peter Gambrill, Migration Advisory Committee

  • The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is a list of job titles that have a shortage of workers in the UK, and recognises the need for overseas workers to fill the positions
  • Being on the SOL grants certain expectations in the Tier 2 Visas, such as not having to meet the £37,000 threshold after five years and not having to pass the Resident Labour Market Test (RMLT)
  • Decisions about occupations that should be added to the SOL are made using a two-pronged approach: use of indicators such as the number of vacancies advertised, and feedback from stakeholders
  • Arts and fashion were not on SOL but eligible for Tier 2

Questions directed to Jonathan and Peter

  • The role being discussed (machine operator) is not a creative or artistic job, so it cannot be grouped with the ‘creative jobs in the creative sectors such as artists and designers
  • Temporary migration routes are being re-evaluated, but one year is not enough and is not viable for the workers employed in the sector, who are mostly mothers and need to consider schools, etc.
  • If immigration becomes restrictive to the point that businesses are struggling to recruit, it becomes an incentive for businesses to relocate to other European countries, and the UK will import rather than produce products
  • The MAC uses the ONS skills hierarchy in combination with other indicators to determine skill levels, but it is clear that this does not capture the skills necessary for the work of a machinist
  • Apprenticeships have a low take-up, and the system has to be improved

Speaker: Kate Hills, CEO and Founder of Make it British

  • Make it British came from the need to connect designers and buyers
  • Production in the UK is becoming more attractive, as margins are shirking, it is no longer cheaper to produce in India
  • Retailers are looking to produce in the UK, but manufacturers are limited on resources and cannot meet the demand
  • One of the main constraints to growth is the lack of skilled workers
  • Garment manufacturing currently generates £9bn to the economy, a figure that could double if manufacturers could employ more staff
  • Many manufacturers in the UK are micro companies, which employ less than 10 staff
  • If retailers are not able to satisfy their demand from UK manufacturers, they have an incentive to move to suppliers in other EU countries

Tamara Cincik introduces John McNally MP

John McNally MP, Falkirk

  • Was very impressed by Fashion-Enter
  • There is a skills crisis in the UK, as not enough people are interested in highly specific jobs. Another example is with butchers
  • If the UK garment manufacturing industry is not attractive to buyers, they will choose to supply their products from another country

Kate Hills

  • The government and industry needs to act now to ensure that the potential for growth is taken advantage of

Tamara Cincik

  • The fashion industry is missing a coherent and unified voice, from manufacturing to sales, to advocate for the industry’s needs
  • The uncertainty of Brexit and the change in consumer behaviour is already proving harmful to the fashion industry, and it cannot risk not taking advantage of the interest of brands supplying to the UK

Speaker: Jack Tindale, Policy Manager for Design & Innovation, Policy Connect

  • For the T-levels to be successful, they have to be given the same recognition as A-levels
  • The success of T-levels will only be seen in the long-term, approximately 10 years
  • The 5 term cycle of politics means that politicians do not have an incentive to implement long-term programmes or wait for successes
  • The change in PM means that many policy strategies will be changed, the change will be more dramatic in the case of a general election
  • Stakeholders and industry need to communicate to new government what policies are working and what policies they do not want changed
  • There is a lot of potential for tech and innovation in the fashion industry, which is attractive to investment
  • Example of space material, which is a combination of technology and fabric


  • Apprenticeships require innovation – they should not replicate a centuries old model
  • Apprenticeships have dropped 15-20%, but this is not grounds for worry
  • London saw a drop in 13%
  • The North of the UK saw a drop in 33%
  • It is important to strive for gender parity in apprenticeships
  • Apprenticeships need to be attractive to young people, as is the case in Germany
  • Apprenticeships need to be more representative of the UK

Questions directed to Jack Tindale

Tamara Cincik 

  • Asks what is the position of the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party in regard to apprenticeships

Jack Tindale

  • Sees appetite for apprenticeships from both parties
  • The national education service is not limited to university
  • Brexit takes up a lot of space in Parliament, leaving little room for other matters such as education to be discussed
  • There has to be a push from industry

James Stewart

  • Mentions a visit to Sheffield
  • What is the likelihood of government sponsoring apprenticeship programmes?

Jack Tindale 

  • Notes that Sheffield’s industrial strategy is very strong
  • The government has finite resources, and will focus on the strongest areas, or the areas with the most potential

John McNally MP

  • Northern powerhouses want their own systems and say that government could improve dialogue with stakeholders

Jack Tindale

  • Notes that elected mayors are good at speaking with the community
  • Recommends speaking to mayors as they can be more effective than waiting for government

Lord Young

  • Notes that the apprenticeship levy system needs an update
  • Notes that a review of Higher Education is necessary

Tamara Cincik asks manufacturers from Leicester how heard and represented they feel by their local governments


Alkesh Kapadia, Barcode Fashion

  • Has tried to set up a training academy but had no support from local government
  • There are too many Fashion Design graduates but no machinists, and the Fashion Design students are not learning skills to produce what they design
  • Their factory currently employs 55 workers and have vacancies, but there are no workers to fill those vacancies
  • There is also a lot of competition between factories to hire graduates

Tamara Cincik asks if they have met their local MP

John McNally

  • Noted his work with the Environmental Audit Committee, which looked at fast fashion and manufacturers in Leicester

James Stewart

  • The fashion industry requires constant production to satisfy demand
  • Compared the fashion manufacturing industry to the car manufacturing industry because of the continuous production and the need for local manufacturing

Floor – Fionnuala Horrocks Burns, Skills and Education Policy Advisory, British Retail Consortium

  • Attempt at engaging manufacturers got very little traction
  • The lack of skilled workers might be a case of perception or of structure

Kate Hills

  • Thinks it is a case of perception, as the government is not aware of the skills and jobs needed in the garment manufacturing sector
  • There is no longer a ‘dressmaker’ role, but this is listed as an occupation

Fionnuala Horrocks Burns, British Retail Consortium

  • A culture change is necessary to encourage interest in these jobs
  • There used to be pride in working in mills

Jack Tindale

  • English garment manufacturing has a very strong legacy, an example is Savile Row tweed

Kate Hills

  • People assume that clothes sold in Savile Row are made in Savile Row

Fionnuala Horrocks Burns

  • People do not understand what factory work entails, and it carries a negative image

12:00 meeting finished, thanks to everyone who attended