Future Fashion Landscapes: Fostering biodiversity through collaborations between farmers, designers, and processors of native and rare breed wool

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


Fashion and agriculture are among the industries with the highest
climate footprint - through over-consumption of finite resources,
aggregated CO2 emissions, widespread ecosystem pollution and
resulting extensive biodiversity loss. There is enormous potential for
impact through improved practice and a major paradigm shift in both
sectors. This design-led R&D partnership between fashion researchers
from UAL's Centre for Sustainable Fashion and the South East England
(SEE) and South West England (SWE) Fibresheds foregrounds the
potential of fostering diverse, healthy ecosystems and increased
biodiversity alongside supporting sustainable rural economies and
bio-regional textiles networks. The partnership builds on the regional
links created during the research team's previous project 'Beyond Net
Zero Goals: Regenerative fashion design for micro-circular rural
ecosystems' funded in the DEP pilot scheme (2021-22).

Within the overarching biodiversity theme, this project focuses on the
fibre production and biodiversity enhancement potential of farms
adopting regenerative principles, while operating landscape-specific
grazing and restoration programmes with native and rare breed sheep.
Sustaining thriving populations of native breeds is among the key
biodiversity indicators of the UK Government Biodiversity Strategy for
England (Indicator 12a: Animal genetic resources, DEFRA 2023

The vision of the SEE and SWE affiliates of the international Fibershed
movement  is to provide viable solutions for the shift from long,
opaque fashion and textiles supply chains, towards short, transparent
bio-regional fibre and fashion supply networks with potential for
scaling through replication. The organisations' current priority, based
on extensive stakeholder consultation during 2020-22, is to facilitate
better understanding between farmers and designers to improve
availability and uptake of high-quality local fibre. The focus is on wool
which, unlike plant fibres, is still produced in the UK in abundance yet
its potential for application in apparel production is insufficiently
understood. As a result, this renewable fibre source is undervalued,
underutilised and often discarded. This project will enhance visibility
and comprehension of UK-sourced native and rare breed wool, thus
opening up new opportunities for valuable income streams, with
benefits for rural economies plus landscape conservation and
biodiversity enhancement.

The partnership will test methods of collaboration and design research
that aim to:
Advance the understanding of properties and biodiversity benefits of bio-regional native and rare breed wool production in the SEE and SWE  and beyond, through the pilot implementation of SEE & SWE Fibresheds' new Farming Fashion Toolkit.

Develop experimental design prototypes that embody the experience of 'wearing the landscape', providing a tangible proofof-concept that can facilitate access to further R&D and funding for farmers and designers.

Facilitate future innovation and collaboration opportunities for
farmers, designers, and processors of fibre and textiles through
improved mutual understanding of requirements and production
cycles when working with local landscapes, animals and natural

The project will support the SEE and SWE Fibresheds' mission by
introducing skills in design, making and fashion design
entrepreneurship, building capacity for extensive experimentation to
test innovative possibilities for regenerative fashion practice within
rural ecosystems and urban design centres. LCF's recent move to the
East Bank Campus offers exceptional opportunities for public
engagement and mobilising the thriving East London design
community for this purpose.


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