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The British Fashion Council (BFC), UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have announced a new partnership that aims to bring together industry, innovators, investors, academia and broader stakeholders.

The CFIN will be co-chaired by the BFC’s CEO Caroline Rush and the UKFT’s CEO Adam Mansell and will help create a “roadmap” accelerating the UK towards a circular fashion economy.

Global economic forecasting company Oxford Economics estimated the UK fashion industry contributed £29bn ($36.25bn) to UK GDP in 2022. However, the Institute of Positive Fashion estimates that consumption of new clothes in the UK is also higher than in any other European country. The CFIN aims to move the UK towards a circular economy model.

Members of the CFIN’s advisory board include representatives from luxury, premium, high street, supermarket and value apparel brands, as well as representatives from the UKRU, academics and non-government organisations. Fashion brands with members on CFIN’s board include French luxury brand Chanel, supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s and fashion retailers New Look and Marks and Spencer.

The project will be funded with £1.8m, shared between the BFC and UKFT which will jointly run the network, build a community and share knowledge with members.

CFIN claims to be the first industry-led programme of its kind supported by the UKRI. Its working group leads will report to the UKRI’s programme as an essential part of its £15m commitment to creating an innovation-led approach to circular fashion.

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By GlobalData

Work at CFIN will start with a focus on three key themes:

  • Circular business models led by John Lewis commercial director Kathleen Mitchell
  • Recycling infrastructure led by Veolia UK & Ireland executive vice-president Gavin Graveson
  • Sustainable manufacturing led by Shotley Consulting director Nigel Lugg.

BFC’s chief executive Caroline Rush says: “BFC and UKFT have a proven track record of working together on government relations and international trade, it now makes sense that we bring together our two networks which covers fashion and textile designers, retailers, manufacturers, tech businesses, government, media, professional services, investors and consumer audiences, to tackle our biggest challenge, our impact on the planet and with that the future of the UK fashion industry.”

UKFT’s CEO Adam Mansell adds: “It has never been more important to combine knowledge and networks to tackle the challenges of sustainability. We’re excited to work with the BFC and other partners via the CFIN to establish both direct interventions and long term plans to help the transition towards a new circular economy in the UK. Our particular area of focus will be sustainable manufacturing and recycling infrastructure, which we believe will be key drivers in helping to build the most resilient, sustainable and competitive sector for future generations.”

The UK is not the only European nation encouraging a circular economy. Last year, the Irish government announced €1.5m in funding for extending Circuléire to 2023 in a bid to foster and enhance circular economy knowledge, capacity building and implementation by Irish industry.