The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology Collaborative R&D Partnership

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Arts London
Department Name: London College of Fashion


The Collaborative Research & Development (R&D) Partnership project will work with the Fashion Textiles and related Technology (FTT) industry in order develop research-led solutions to business growth, technological and consumer change. This will include working closely with small firms who make up the vast majority (80+%) of the sector, in fashion design, designer-making, manufacturing, retail and in related services that are fed by the fashion & textiles sector, e.g. events, interiors, publishing, performing arts, media and other creative services, as well as a wide range of textiles applications in manufacturing, medical and product design.

The research will be delivered by a partnership between several universities led by the University of the Arts London, who together specialise in fashion and textiles design, business, manufacture and marketing, including specialist research centres in sustainable fashion and circular design, sustainable prosperity, materials and textiles manufacturing, in London, Leeds, Loughborough and Cambridge. The R&D project will be based around the East London Fashion & Textiles cluster and the connected production growth corridors of the Thames Gateway and Lea Valley/M11 (London-Cambridge) where opportunities for FTT workspace and manufacturing expansion are evident.

The R&D work programme will include short and longer term research projects and enterprise support with small firms/SMEs to identify and develop solutions to the growth of their business, products and markets and related skills needs; work with larger fashion brands to develop more sustainable products through innovative design, manufacture and waste processing; research consumer experience and needs in material/fashion brands and retailing, including the future place of high street retail, store design and online markets; test new and existing synthetic and natural materials for new product development; and explore markets for more sustainable UK fibres/chemical processes and opportunities for regional UK textile production. The R&D programme, which will be co-designed with FTT companies and industry associations, will also identify the related skill and training needs which accompany the economic and technological challenges facing the FTT industry, and design through the university partners and other training providers (e.g. FE Colleges) and enterprise support organisations, new and novel training and Continuing Professional Development programmes.

Planned Impact

The Collaborative R&D programme targets the FTT cluster, which will develop a series of R&D projects and enterprise development activities working closely with SMEs, larger firms and industry associations and regional government agencies.

The primary impacts expected to be realised through this project and impact pathways are:

1. Enhanced resilience and capacity of FTT firms, particularly enabling SMEs to realise opportunities for business growth and access new markets
2. New product, process and service innovations - including consumer/market experiences and engagement
3. Reducing environmental costs and creating new market opportunities through sustainable product and material design, manufacture and waste treatment
3. The generation of new markets and sustained economic uplift and growth measured in GVA, employment and investment
4. Innovation in FTT skills (business/enterprise, technology, design) and widening participation and maintaining talent
5. Improvement in productivity and performance of the sector, through design/innovation in business and technology
6. Increased research capacity in HEIs and industry R&D through industry-led PhD projects and KT/KTP activity
7. FTT-specific policy formulation and take up by government/agencies including policy in other sectors, including agriculture, product design and manufacture, digital economy and education
8. To create a sustained audience and public awareness of the FTT cluster, industrial challenges and innovations, through high profile cultural and dissemination programmes
9. To create a legacy in the form of an FTT R&D Institute and world leading Showcasing facility to inform, promote and support the growth of the FTT cluster into the future
10. To generate academic debate, exchange and widen interest and activity in FTT research and industry-HEI R&D
collaboration, for future research development


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