Two weeks ago, the United Kingdom voted via a referendum to permanently leave the European Union — a decision which has since thrown the country into crisis. The “Brexit” vote came as a shock to a huge part of the country, but for the British members of the Highsnobiety team, it’s especially painful.
Most people think of us as a New York-based publication, but our head office is actually in Berlin. The European Union allows people from all over the continent to work across borders without visas or permits, and to date, Highsnobiety employs a total of 12 British nationals. Most of them sit in Berlin, alongside people from Germany, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Now that the dust has settled and the significance of Brexit has really sunk in, here are a few thoughts and feelings from some British members of the Highsnobiety team. Find out how the UK’s designers feel about the situation, too.
“It’s like our country has broken up with us. I was in Paris at the time of the Brexit announcement, and most of the London menswear scene was in a bit of a daze about it all. Now that the news has properly sunk in it’s hard to shake the feeling that everything is now really, really fucked. Brexit has confirmed that the UK isn’t the liberal, outward-looking country that me, my Facebook feed and The Guardian thought (or at least hoped) it was.
The fact that none of the Brexit campaigners actually thought about what would happen next — and have all since quit their positions – is only more infuriating. Worst of all was the vile atmosphere that filled the air during the Brexit campaign — lying politicians, lying newspapers, a murdered MP and billboards that looked like Nazi propaganda. It’s an ugly, shameful time for our country and I’m not sure if it’ll ever feel the same again.”
— Alec Leach, Junior Editor
“It’s a strange thing to watch the country you once called home tear itself apart. For four years I’ve watched from Berlin as the place I grew up in becomes something I no longer recognize or want to know. I moved to the capital of Europe’s strongest economy to find work, which I did within three weeks. This was after spending six months in the UK working part-time in a Manchester casino with a degree and an industry qualification while claiming job seeker’s allowance to top up my meagre minimum wage in order to live. I am the poster child of the EU generation, the millennial struggle.
There is no doubt that Brexit was a stupid decision, but I can almost sympathize with those who voted Leave: when you live in a country that has drained you of your energy and your sympathy for your fellow man, then of course you lash out, of course you take the first opportunity to affect change. It’s like being promised eternal life in exchange for cutting off your own arms: perhaps a great idea, just disregard the hemorrhaging blood loss and the fact your arms are really fucking useful.
The Brexit lie is unravelling now as fast as the future is plummeting and I just want to catch the first plane back and re-engage with the place that I once called home, to help rebuild it and recapture it back from the joke that it has become. But then I turn towards apathy and selfishness and a cruel kind of amusement where that German word, schadenfreude, suddenly seems pretty apt.”
— Jack Drummond, Sponsored Content Editor
“The result was shocking yet expected, in its own paradoxical way. As a first generation immigrant I’m acutely familiar with the English people’s islander nativism. Most of them don’t truly feel a part of Europe, and while some might tolerate outsiders, even progressive, open-minded cosmopolitan types have a cliquey tribalism about them, and it’s rare that they truly ever accept us as one of their own.
The bloated English national ego doesn’t do unions, it does empires, and presenting a choice between high-minded ideals and animalistic populism to the country’s least educated and most bigoted was only ever going to go one way.
It’s a crushing defeat. Britain, for me, is gone. I have severed ties with people that I used to call friends because of their decision to vote Leave and I did so in the harshest of terms to eliminate any room for reconciliation, because with something like this there can be no forgiveness nor diplomacy.
Of course, this a layered issue, one that has as much to do with economics and political alienation as it does immigration. If we can take one positive from this whole miserable debacle, it’s the conclusive proof that neoliberal capitalism is antithetical to a functional, cohesive society. I just hope that the rest of EU takes note, otherwise, this could go down in history as the first blow in the death of the European ideal.”
— Aleks Eror, Staff Writer
“The Leave campaign relied heavily on lies (no surprises there) and xenophobia (again, no surprise). Speaking to people who were voting for Leave, you realised very quickly that they thought they were voting against immigration rather than the EU. That realisation, alongside some of the rhetoric around the Leave campaign, left an awful impression on me, a second-generation immigrant.
Even putting all that aside, there was clearly absolutely no plan from the Leave campaign other than ‘well we’ll leave and then be great again!’ The fact that Boris Johnson refused to run for Conservative leader and Nigel Farage quit to ‘get his life back’ is only proof that there was never a long-term plan for the Leave campaign. Well, you’ve won, so now what? Britain is essentially in financial limbo and the signs are pointing towards a recession. How many countries can say they voted themselves into a recession? It’s a proud distinction.
My first thoughts after Brexit was ‘well, that’s shit’. Now, after seeing the news over the last week or so? It’s really shit. You know when you look back on history at something so stupid you think ‘god, how did anyone agree to that?’ Brexit is that.”
— Jason Dike, Editor-at-Large
“I haven’t felt angry once since waking up to the news that we’d voted to leave the European Union. Instead all I’ve felt is sadness. A futile but inescapable sadness.
Sad that I no longer feel nor want to be British. Sad that we’ve lost the right to live and work in 27 countries. Sad that self-serving politicians sold the working classes the lie that immigration restrictions are the answer to the decades worth of destruction wrought on their economies and communities. Sad that the working classes believed them, and sad that they’re now being blamed for doing so. Sad that our grandparents knew voting Leave would directly harm and go against the wishes of their grandchildren, but did it anyway out of a nostalgia for the Britain of their youth. Sad that only 36% of today’s youth could even be bothered to vote.
Brexit showed that, unlike any other time in our lives so far, anything is now possible in Britain. If we want change, we need to organize something bigger. Something that appeals to people outside of London and people who aren’t interested in revolutionary left wing politics. Something that can resurrect the future friendships, relationships and experiences that we’ve just lost. But we won’t, and that’s the saddest thing of all.”
— Daniel Pearson, Staff Writer
“In the past few months, my social feeds have been populated with the thoughts and feelings of a generation enthused by politics and eager for a productive and rational debate on Brexit. I was proud to see a collective demonstration of responsibility for the fate of the UK, a feeling that only added to my shock at the result.
Having moved to Germany only two months ago I hardly expected this to happen. Our nation has decided to leave a union that is struggling to help the worst migrant crisis since World War II. How does that make us look to our ex-counterparts in Europe? Not only in politics but on the street?
I think it looks like we are turning our backs on those most in need and God knows how this will be reflected when we attempt to negotiate the terms of our departure. If the leave campaign was so concerned with the money we send to the EU every year, then perhaps they should have picked up a calculator and worked out the impact of having no trade agreement with Europe.
The worst part is that I can’t even tell Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage to fuck off because they already have!”
— Tom Garland, Assistant Project Manager
“I’ve been living in Berlin since 2009, so the thought of having to pack up and head back home to Dundee, Scotland, seems pretty abysmal. While at university I’d taken part in the Erasmus exchange program, which was an important period for me as a young man heading out into the big scary world. It’s pretty much why I decided to make the leap over to Germany after graduation to live the European dream.
What will happen to the Erasmus program after Brexit? I’ve met so many important people in my life through it and it would a huge shame if future generations were denied that opportunity.
In any case, the Scots will get a second chance, since every region in Scotland voted to remain in the UK. Why the hell should we be forced to leave if the whole country actually wants to stay? There will probably be a repeat of last year’s Scottish independence referendum, and this time the Yes campaign will win hands down.”
— Robin Thomson, Junior Video Editor
“I came to the UK in 1977 as an immigrant. My Dad had just got a contract at the BBC World Service. Shortly afterwards we entered the reign of the Margaret Thatcher and some of the nation’s toughest years.
I feel that the ill informed, led by over-educated and over-zealous leaders of Britain’s ‘democracy’, have sent us backwards in economics and humanity. I voted Remain for the sake of my children’s future within a united Europe, for them to be able to learn from other cultures and enjoy the choice and freedom that I have today.
I’m very proud to work with people from a wealth of cultures and backgrounds at Highsnobiety, but Brexit has left myself, my family and friends with a deep sense of betrayal and isolation. What lies ahead is an unknown that we didn’t want.”
— Atip W, Editor-at-Large
- Cover Image: Huffington Post