The British Fashion Council has confirmed that buy-now-pay-later payment service Clearpay will be the new principal partner of London Fashion Week, starting from this up-coming season kicking off on February 19.
On a Zoom call, Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, explained that Clearpay would be partnering with London Fashion Week in a two-year deal to champion emerging British talent, support the UK retail industry in its economic recovery due to the pandemic, and give consumers more access to designer brands.
Clearpay, known as Afterpay outside of the UK, have signed up for an undisclosed amount and will partner with the British Fashion Council to integrate “inclusive shoppable moments and dynamic interactive concepts - bringing the best of the British fashion industry to a wider group of consumers”.
In addition, Rush explained that Clearpay would also underwrite the BFC Foundation’s talent initiatives for 2021/2022, “as we rebuild and double down our fundraising efforts” including NewGen, the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund and the BFC Fashion Trust, which recognise excellence and provides support to the best British designers.
Rush added: “Through this partnership we’re able to plan for the future to support designers and play our part to reignite the UK retail industry, which in turn supports significant employment.”
Clearpay commits to a two-year partnership with London Fashion Week
Clearpay has been a patron and partner of the British Fashion Council for two years, and last year, the Australian-based company, contributed 25,000 pounds to the BFC Foundation Fashion Fund for the Covid Crisis.
“As we entered a significant period of change last year, and in light of the challenges brought by Covid-19 and Brexit, we pivoted and adapted the event very quickly, moving to a digital platform accessible to both industry and public with evergreen content published throughout the year,” added Rush. “We look forward to working with Clearpay to continue developing London Fashion Week, opening it up to a broader range of consumers and adapting it to the designers’ needs.”
Nick Molnar, co-founder of Clearpay, who joined the Zoom call from Australia, said: “The last 12 months have been a challenging year for many and to be in a fortunate position to have the chance to invest, with our retailers in the industry that supported us from day one in, through the good times and the more challenging times is really what the Clearpay brand represents.
“From our perspective we’re in a privileged position to help UK brands and retailers, get access to both an amazing local platform, and also a global customer base. Our platform sends tens of millions of leads to our retailers, every single month so to be able to put the power of our ecosystem and our platform behind, London Fashion Week is an amazing opportunity.”
Molnar, added: “The synergies between the British Fashion Council and Clearpay, and this amazing opportunity is incredibly evident to support the talent initiatives, to invest in the community and to really you know make this as special as it could be is, you know, an amazingly fortunate position to be in.”
Criticism surrounding buy-now-pay-later companies
There has been some criticism surrounding buy-now-pay-later products, and the potential for harm for consumers as these agreements become ever more popular. Earlier this month, the government confirmed plans to regulate interest-free buy-now-pay-later credit agreements by giving the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authority to protect consumers.
The proposed regulations would mean that buy-now-pay-later firms such as Clearpay and Klarna, would be required to carry out affordability checks on customers and ensure the vulnerable are treated fairly.
The government said that regulations are needed as many consumers do not view interest-free buy-now-pay-later as a form of credit, so do not apply the same level of scrutiny, and checks undertaken by providers tend to focus on the risk for the firm rather than how affordable it is for the customer.
In addition, it also notes that several buy-now-pay-later providers are planning to expand to higher-value retailers, or offer their products in-store, and that offers extra risks to consumers and means they could take on unaffordable levels of debt.
When the British Fashion Council was asked about the issues surrounding buy-now-pay-now services, it said in a statement over e-mail to FashionUnited: “The FCA has acknowledged the benefits of products like Clearpay in the UK and by regulating the industry, there is more certainty for the customers and merchant partners. It is important that consumer protection is recognised through regulation.
“Clearpay has always supported fit for purpose regulation that recognises the diversity of the industry and desire from consumers for flexible payment options that don’t trap them in long term debt. Clearpay’s support of London Fashion Week gives the BFC a new way to support the industry and help jumpstart retail and make fashion more inclusive and accessible to the British public.”
Image: courtesy of Clearpay