Scots fashion guru hits out over political bickering at awards ceremony

The figurehead of the Scottish Fashion Awards has complained that the country is being held back by arguments about political borders, a failure of ambition and the lack of a '˜can do' attitude.

Tessa Hartmann launched the Scottish Fashion Awards 10 years ago.

Tessa Hartmann opened the glittering event in London with a plea for Scots to “start thinking bigger” and embrace a culture of “optimism and risk-taking” in business.

Ms Hartmann, who launched the event in Stirling Castle 10 years ago, has come under flak for moving it to London, but insisted the industry was strong enough for it to be staged in “any city in the world.”

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She said the fashion was a classic example of how Scottishness was an “essential” element of British identify, citing tartan, Harris Tweed and cashmere and the likes of Vivienne Westwood, the Sex Pistols and Alexander McQueen.

Mr Hartmann, one of the most high-profile opponents from the creative industries of Scottish independence, also used the occasion to call for internet “trolls and haters” to be “kicked out the back door”.

Her speech was a controversial start to en event which saw Lanarkshire-born Christopher Kane, who launched his own label 10 years ago, named designer of the year. New Burberry star Jean Campbell, daughter of the 7th Earl of Cawdor and former British Vogue editor Isabella Cawdor, was crowned the nation’s top model.

Tens, the sunglasses brand founded by three friends in the Highlands who went on to win the backing of Sir Richard Branson, was named the nation’s best fashion accessory while Burberry’s store in Edinburgh was named luxury retailer of the year.

Celebrated deisgner Pam Hogg, the Glasgow School of Art graduate who took the fashion and music worlds by storm in the 1980s and 1990s and went on to work with the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga and Kate Moss, received a special “icon” award.

Holly Fulton, the Edinburgh-born designer who launched her own label seven years ago, was honoured as “innovator of the year.”

The relocation of the awards to London in 2013 was backed by the Scotland Office and the ceremony at the Rosewood Hotel was co-hosted by Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

Ms Hartmann added: “On a regular basis, I get asked ‘why have the Scottish Fashion Awards in London’? Normally I would defend my position vigorously and remind everyone we built this event from the ground up, supported only by the private sector, not the Scottish Government, and did indeed hold it in Scotland for seven years.

“But, frankly, I’m now so tired of the parochial arguments and barrage of social media exchanges. I’m not ashamed to state I’m proud to be both Scottish and British. Scotland and England, together with Wales and Northern Ireland, have built one of the greatest nations in history.

“Isn’t it time we stopped arguing about political borders and instigated a culture of optimism and even risk-taking? Isn’t time we started thinking bigger and thinking; ‘ yes, we can take these awards and celebrate Scottish fashion and its valuable contribution to any city in the world’?

“We can’t afford necessarily to feel secure and comfortable in a world economy where market fluctuations are volatile and financial projects are somewhat bleak?

“But we can focus on success. We can celebrate the creativity, retailers, business and fashion leaders that are changing the landscape, we can dispel negativity, and trust in our hearts and instinct.”

Mr Mundell said: “Fashion is of huge importance to our country, contributing £28bn to the UK economy and supporting nearly 900,000 jobs. The fashion industry is a global leader in trade, creativity and innovation, and the value of the UK’s textiles and apparel exports is well over £7 billion.

“These awards illustrate that Scotland punches above its weight in the global fashion marketplace and that’s something that I’m delighted to be a part of.”