Leeds leads the way in fashion research

The University of Leeds is conducting research to support innovation and improve sustainability in the fashion industry. The School of Design is an interdisciplinary academic school bringing together design and technology. As well as offering a range of fashion courses they are committed to research which impacts on industry, society and culture.

A Digital Future

The School is leading a new multi-million pound collaborative research project which aims to boost creative innovation in the fashion industry. The £5.4 million project will explore and develop new digital technologies to help improve high value, luxury design processes. The aim is to increase productivity, lower costs, and reduce waste.

The research involves a number of partners including Yorkshire Textiles, Royal College of Art, Burberry, Wools of New Zealand, Abraham Moon & Sons, The Textile Centre of Excellence, Camira and the British Fashion Council.

Professor Stephen Russell, Director of the project said: "The vision is to transform the UK industry’s capacity for new product innovation, and to reduce lead times and waste. This will be done through the convergence of new digital and textile technologies within the fashion design process."

Leeds leads the way in fashion research

A Fast-Fashion Culture

There has been widespread media attention about the issue of so-called "fast fashion" which describes current high rate of fashion consumption and the increase in new and cheap clothing ranges in the fashion market. According to submissions to the Environmental Audit Committee, 235 million items of clothing were sent to landfill in 2017 and the UK has a highest consumption rate of new clothing than any other European country. Members of UK Parliament have questioned the CEO’s of leading clothing retailers including Primark, Marks and Spencer, Next, Arcadia Group and Debenhams about their recycling and sustainability policies and processes.

Dr Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Fashion and Sustainability in the School of Design recently presented evidence in UK parliament at the Environmental Audit Committee as part of the inquiry into the sustainability of fashion industry. During the hearing Dr Sumner spoke of his concern about the pressure that so called "fast fashion" is having on workers and the environment. He also discussed how pressure to look good means that people, particularly young people, will always pick a clothing item which they feel they look more attractive in as opposed to considering which products are more sustainable.

The Environmental Audit Committee is investigating the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry and how clothing has become easily disposable. The inquiry is examining the carbon, resource use and water footprint of clothing throughout its lifecycle and is investigating how clothes can be recycled in order to reduce waste and pollution.

Following the visit to parliament Dr Sumner said: "It’s great to see the government and the audit committee trying to get a better understanding of the challenges the fashion industry faces in delivering products in a more sustainable way. Hopefully the work we are doing at the School of Design on sustainability, micro plastics and consumer behaviour will continue to help inform policy makers and provide solutions for the industry."

Dr Sumner is also working on a research project which explores the issue of modern slavery in the fashion industry and particularly in supply chains for value clothing.

The School of Design is committed to working with industry, the media and the general public to ensure our research has a real world impact in the field of design and technology.

Visit the School of Design website.


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