The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) Creative R&D Partnership is one of nine clusters and one policy and evidence centre to be funded under the multi-million pound Creative Industries Cluster Programme. The five-year industry-led project will focus on delivering innovation within the entire fashion and textile supply chain, with special attention given to positioning industry as agents of new technology and materials development.
The Partnership includes work streams dedicated to developing an evidence base; supporting SMEs in engaging in high-value collaborative R&D; sustainable business practice; reimagining retail and consumer experiences; tackling the industry reliance on synthetic materials; developing new sustainable materials and building critical mass in new modes of making and manufacturing for fashion and textiles.
The BFTT Partnership Director is Professor Graeme Evans, UAL, and Deputy-Director is Professor Jane Harris, UAL. They are supported by a UAL research team from London College of Fashion and Chelsea College of Arts, in collaboration with University College London, Loughborough University, University of Cambridge, University of Leeds, Queen Mary University London and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Key industry partners include ASOS; Holition; John Smedley; Clarkes; British Fashion Council; Kukri; Keracol – in addition to support from world leading luxury brands, over 40 Fashion Textile and Technology businesses, trade associations and Local Enterprise Partnerships, and online retail and emergent design companies of the future.
Textile innovation in the UK is ranked third in the world and first in Europe, with the UK currently advancing developments in new, environmentally sustainable materials and production technologies. The project exploits the UK industry’s considerable market advantage and design influence and responds to emerging challenges to sustain and accelerate the creative economy of the FTT sector – including an increasingly ethically-sensitive market, real-terms resource cost increases and evolving environmental legislation. To tackle these challenges, UAL’s partnership draws upon trans-disciplinary research expertise in design, computer science, chemistry, materials engineering, economics, management, anthropology and manufacturing, and builds on the University’s long-standing history of world-leading research in sustainable fashion (the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Centre for Circular Design, Textile Futures Research Community), technology (the Digital Anthropology Lab) and business (the Centre for Fashion Business Innovation Research).
It is intended that the project foster a new, creative business culture in which fashion, textile and technology businesses – from SMEs to multinational companies – can use R&D as a mechanism for growth. The project will also engage with business and Government to develop a pipeline of talent to staff the FTT businesses of the future, tapping into the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) agenda which aims to provide young people with the creative skills needed to support the sector.