The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) Creative R&D Partnership will focus on delivering innovation within the entire fashion and textile creative production and supply chain. The project will foster a new, creative business culture in which fashion, textile and technology enterprises – from SMEs to multinational companies – can use R&D as a route to growth. Special attention will be placed on positioning industry as agents of new materials
Textile innovation in the UK is ranked as first in Europe and third in the world, with the UK currently advancing developments in new, environmentally sustainable materials and production technologies. The project aims to exploit this considerable market advantage and design influence, and respond to new challenges to sustain and accelerate the creative economy of the Fashion, Textiles and Technology (FTT) sector. To tackle the many challenges, the Partnership draws upon transdisciplinary research expertise in design, computer science, chemistry, materials engineering, economics, strategic management, anthropology and manufacturing.
The work streams will include supporting SMEs and larger firms in high-value collaborative R&D; reimagining retail and customer experiences; tackling industry reliance on synthetic materials, building an evidence base; and developing new sustainable materials and markets.
Engaging not just with business, the project will also work with education and training providers, and government to develop a pipeline of talent for the FTT businesses of the future. The Partnership will tap into the STEAM agenda to provide young people with the support and skills needed for the sector to continue to flourish in the future.
The cluster will be centred on the East London Fashion & Textiles hub at East Bank, Stratford and the production growth corridors of the Thames Gateway and Lea Valley. These are areas where the value of FTT businesses is growing fast, and where many opportunities exist for workspace and manufacturing expansion.
BFTT is led by University of the Arts London (UAL) in collaboration with UCL, Loughborough University, University of Cambridge, University of Leeds and Queen Mary University London, and includes specialist research centres in sustainable fashion, circular design, fashion business and innovation, digital anthropology, materials and textiles manufacturing.
Key industry partners include world leading luxury and heritage designer brands (including Kering, Smedley, Clarks), online retailer ASOS, and destination stores including Selfridges. Other partners include the V&A Museum and cutting-edge technology VR/AI company, Holition. In all over 40 FTT businesses, industry trade associations and Local Enterprise Partnerships will be involved.