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British Fashion Council Assembles $1M+ Fund for Virus Relief

The British Fashion Council (BFC) has a plan to help out creative fashion businesses and individuals with a new emergency fund enacted to fight back against the coronavirus crisis.

On March 27, the fashion industry group launched the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund, an emergency resource for designer businesses. Pulling from a variety of other funds, including the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund and the JD.com-supported BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund, the new resource brings all of the group’s charitable initiatives into a single pool worth 1 million pounds ($1.24 million).

“Now more than ever, we are committed to support the businesses and people that make up our industry,” BCF chief executive Caroline Rush said in a statement. “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.”

The money for the Covid Crisis Fund was previously marked for BFC talent support grants that would have helped early-stage designers and existing business growth prior to the pandemic. In order to support the ongoing health of the fund, the non-profit industry group is also asking for donations from the industry.

Along with its financial support, the BFC has called upon the government to step up its efforts with a “significant industry stimulus.”

“As a not for profit, the BFC can act as a vital resource during these uncertain times,” the group said. “Since the beginning of the crisis, BFC has worked tirelessly to brief [the] government on the challenges facing the industry but also to keep all stakeholders up to date through letters, social media updates, digital town hall meetings and newsletters.”

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The BFC is asking for liquidity support via grants and long-term low-risk loans to fight back against the cascade of closures and cancellations. The group has also requested support for sell-through guarantees, a move that it believes will prevent additional disruption to the supply chain and a “potential domino effect of failure.”

The BFC said it supports rent holidays for offices and retail stores in order to protect employment. Under its proposal, freelance designers would also be eligible for income protection.

Applications to the fund will be open within seven days of the announcement, the group said, and will be accepted up to April 10. Businesses or individuals that wish to apply must be established designer fashion businesses in the U.K. that do not consist primarily of bridalwear or childrenswear.

Grant money must be used for a clear purpose to protect the business over the next year and will not apply to designers or brands that receive outside equity funding “in any material amount.”

Partners for the foundation include Arch & Hook, British Vogue, Browns, Burberry, depop, GQ, JD.com, INC, Label/Mix, Paul Smith, Rodial and Value Retail.