Mapping the UK Fashion, Textiles and Technology Ecosystem

September 14, 2021

This post has kindly been provided by Luigi Galimberti | Project Manager

Business of Fashion, Textiles & Technology Partnership, University of the Arts London

Announcing the first report originating from the Business of Fashion, Textiles & Technology Creative R&D Partnership (BFTT, CRDP), led by University of the Arts London, as part of the Creative Industries Cluster Programme, delivered by the AHRC.

This initial report, Mapping the UK Fashion, Textiles and Technology Ecosystem, aims to identify opportunities for investment, research and development, business growth, job creation and tackle skills gaps in the UK fashion, textiles and technology (FTT) ecosystem.

Based on a survey consultation that engaged over 2,400 small, medium and micro businesses (SMEs) and over 100 stakeholders and intermediaries, including industry specialists, trade bodies and workspace providers, the report is one of the most extensive baseline studies to date on FTT SMEs and the first comprehensive insight into the UK FTT ecosystem leading up to March 2020, pre-Covid-19.

This survey has been instrumental in gaining an in-depth understanding of the polycentric nature of the sector and its geographical spread. This should strongly influence both how the sector is viewed as an economic resource of national importance and the future allocation of the R&D it needs to access in order to thrive — this research also provides initial insights for progress post-Covid.

Fashion is estimated to contribute £35 billion to the British economy every year, while £74 billion+ is spent by UK consumers on wider apparel, clothing accessories, household textiles and carpets, accounting for 890,000 people employed across the UK, and £9 billion of export.

The report offers recommendations for the growth of the UK FTT related economy and in particular SMEsIn the words of Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Professor Andrew Chitty, Challenge Director at Creative Industries, UK Research and Innovation, says in the foreword;

The identification of opportunities for R&D programmes to support fashion’s transition to a more sustainable future provides both leadership for the sector and inspiration to others seeking a route to a more circular economy. As we build the case for a long-term support for research and innovation in the Creative Industries this report shows very clearly why Fashion, Textiles and Technology must be at the heart of that mission.

  • Full Report (94 pages with a full analysis of the survey, as well as a breakdown of the results by business size, geographic location etc.)
  • Summary (40 pages that focusses mostly on key findings and recommendations)

We hope that this first report will provide useful insight on the UK FTT sector and will have a positive impact on your own research, practice or business. Sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to this work, and please do share via the following link across your networks

The authors of the report are:

  • Professor Jane Harris, Director of the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) Creative R&D Partnership led by the University of the Arts London (UAL), and Professor of Digital Design and Innovation.
  • Dr Lipi Begum, BFTT Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UAL, and Senior Lecturer in Fashion Management.
  • Dr Alessandra Vecchi, BFTT Co-Investigator, UAL, and Reader in International Fashion Business Research.


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