The Circular Fashion Innovation Network programme, which is a collaborative venture between BFC and UKFT and aligned with the Institute of Positive Fashion, will focus on six key areas of development:
- Recycling infrastructure
- Sustainable manufacturing
- Circular business models
- Novel technology
- Diverse and future-proof workforce
- Green growth.
The initiative is supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through Innovate UK, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and aims to establish a robust circular fashion ecosystem within the UK.
UKFT will concentrate its efforts on advancing recycling infrastructure and sustainable manufacturing. The organisation will be supported by various practical innovation and research projects to enhance the competitiveness of the UK fashion and textile industry.
The Circular Fashion Innovation Network seeks to address the challenges of waste reduction and mitigate the environmental impact of production and consumption in the UK.
By fostering collaboration between industry stakeholders, the programme aims to create new avenues of growth for the fashion and textile sector while linking existing projects to promote best practices and the development of emerging technologies.
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UKFT CEO Adam Mansell said: “Sustainable manufacturing and recycling infrastructure will be key drivers in the move to a circular fashion ecosystem here in the UK. We’re excited to work with the BFC to support our industry to connect, collaborate and share experiences to build the most resilient, sustainable and competitive sector for future generations.”
UKFT believes the UK has a thriving and diverse manufacturing sector, encompassing luxury fashion, fabrics, and advanced textiles for aerospace, medical, and construction applications and the country is well-positioned to support the transition to a circular economy.
The fashion network will explore strategies such as on-demand manufacturing and regenerative textiles to minimise the industry’s environmental footprint while preserving artisan craft and heritage skills. Moreover, the initiative aims to foster an environment conducive to the adoption of new techniques and technologies, building upon the existing manufacturing landscape.
UKFT says the UK faces a significant textile waste problem, generating an amount annually that could fill Wembley Stadium 17 times over. The majority of this waste is deemed unsuitable for reuse due to wear and tear, damage, or poor quality.
The organisation adds that around 200,000 tonnes of textiles are sent directly to landfills or incinerated each year, while less than 1% of collected textiles are converted into new products worldwide. Converting this waste into a reusable textile feedstock presents a promising opportunity for the future of UK manufacturing.
British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush highlighted the UK’s creative leadership in the fashion industry. She said: “In order to responsibly grow business at a time of great change requires platforms, support, and coordination. We look forward to working with industry and government to support the UK in retaining its reputation as creative leaders in a global industry and to develop its ability to responsibly and collectively address how we accelerate to a leading Circular Fashion Eco-System in the UK.”
Senior director of sustainability and compliance, apparel solutions at Avery Dennison, Debbie Shakespeare, shared with Just Style how the industry can move “fashion circularity” from just talk to to real-time action.