Naomi Campbell wasn't the only national treasure being celebrated at Tuesday's British Fashion Awards. With the support of the London Development Agency, London Fashion Week contributes around £100 million to the economy, according to City Hall. But when asked last month whether the LDA's £4.2 million grant would continue to be paid to British Fashion Council, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was unable to answer.
And though we may think that the Mayor's particular and personal interest in Fashion Week ends at the legs towering in Louboutins, the British fashion industry does, in fact, directly contribute £21 billion to the economy. Indirect spending, notably on Magnums of Cristal, nights at the Dorchester and first class flights bring in a modest contribution of £37bn every year. 816,000 people in Britain work directly in the fashion industry - nearly three per cent of the total workforce. In an industry that brings twice as much economically to the public purse than publishing (£9.9bn) and car manufacturing (£10.1bn), it is a shame that the government is yet to confirm whether the LDA will be able to hand over the grant after the 2010/2011 season.
At the beginning of the spring season Fashion Week in London, Johnson commented: "It is a city where boundless imagination and creative talent emerge from our colleges, and out of leftfield, onto the catwalks and into stores around the world.
"We have just published a report that shows how important fashion and other creative industries are to London's success - and will continue to be as our economy emerges from the recession. That is why I am committed to supporting London's creativity through skills development and as part of our ongoing economic recovery action plan."
Following the Browne report into the funding of higher education, the coalition has shown an interest in cutting government funding to arts and humanities subjects - in favour of 'priority subjects' - ignoring the value that creative subjects and industries have in the British economy. The government's attempt at creating a tiered system within subjects will only create a divide in the amount students pay to study, not in the importance of a subject.