The University of Leeds’ new UK institute brings together existing areas of excellence, including Future Fashion Factory (FFF), which since 2018 has helped businesses to develop sustainable processes and digital tools to guide design and manufacturing processes from start to finish, analysing demand, increasing agility and reducing waste.
The LITAC will tackle global challenges – such as those created by fast fashion, and the need for advanced materials, manufacturing processes, and sustainable products – by partnering with industry to apply the world-class research expertise found across a wide range of disciplines at the University.
“Textiles and colour are fundamental to the function and appearance of countless products used by society, and the industry as a whole is looking to innovate at every stage of the supply chain, to increase competitiveness, address environmental impacts, and drive sustainable growth,” says Stephen Russell, professor of textile materials and technology in Leeds’ School of Design and the founding director of LITAC.
“Whether it is significantly reducing waste, or a lack of transparency in the global fashion industry, creating new materials to rapidly diagnose infection in healthcare, or deploying artificial intelligence to decide the colour of products and increase their value, we can help with these sorts of diverse challenges. Our expertise across the University – in design, science and engineering – make us ideally placed to build on existing relationships.”
Alongside the contributions of the University, LITAC has received significant investment from The Clothworkers’ Company – a City of London livery company focused on supporting the British textiles industry through education, research, skills development and training.
Jocelyn Stuart-Grumbar, clerk to The Clothworkers’ Company, adds: “We believe that the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour will be a strong, collaborative force that will shape the future of the textiles industry. Our co-investment with the University of Leeds represents the largest single funding commitment that The Clothworkers’ Company has ever made.
“It further affirms our belief in the capability of the University of Leeds to build effective partnerships with the textiles industry across the UK and internationally, and to foster intelligent, innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions to society’s needs.”
The new institute has been welcomed by industry leaders, with Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion & Textiles Association, noting the current renaissance in UK manufacturing means that factors such as sustainability are more important than ever.
“LITAC has the expertise to inform the future of UK textile manufacturing and acts as a hub for collaboration, bringing together critical partners from all over the world to make a difference,” he adds.
Judith Rosser-Davies, head of government relations and eeducation at the British Fashion Council, notes: “Through our Institute of Positive Fashion, we encourage the industry to actively participate in a network to accelerate a successful circular fashion economy.
“To address global challenges in our industry – including sustainability – we need to fully understand the issues and the latest research, working together with higher education experts such as LITAC to seek real-world solutions.”
Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour will harness the collective strength of universities in the Yorkshire and Humber region, which collectively enrol some 2,000 students in fashion, design, textiles and colour disciplines each year.
It will address gaps in skills and professional development, including those in technical manufacturing, digital technology and the circular economy.