New fashion institute helps tackle global environmental challenges

Fabric rolls at shop

A new fashion and textiles institute will tackle global challenges by partnering with industry to apply world-class research expertise.

The institute will take of challenges including fast fashion, and the need for:

  • advanced materials
  • manufacturing processes
  • sustainable products.

Based at the University Of Leeds, the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC) 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
  • analyse demand
  • increase agility
  • reduce waste.

FFF is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Driving sustainable growth

Stephen Russell, Professor of Textile Materials and Technology in Leeds’ School of Design and the founding Director of LITAC, said:

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.

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, 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.

Research and development in creative industries

Professor Andrew Chitty, Challenge Director, Creative Industries Clusters Programme, UKRI, said:

The launch of the LITAC is testament to the work that has been achieved by FFF as part of the UKRI-funded creative industries clusters programme.

Committing to a long-term partnership in the form of a new institute shows that R&D in the creative industries can now be regarded by research-intensive universities as opportunities for collaboration between research and industry partners as valuable as those in STEM areas.

That’s an enormous step forward for the sector, and a huge tribute to the pioneering efforts of the FFF team.

LITAC has also received significant investment from The Clothworkers’ Company, which is a City of London livery company focused on supporting the British textiles industry through:

  • education
  • research
  • skills development
  • training.

Jocelyn Stuart-Grumbar, Clerk to The Clothworkers’ Company, said:

We believe that the LITAC 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.

Yorkshire and Humberside

Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour will harness the collective strength of universities in the Yorkshire and Humber region, which collectively enroll some 2,000 students in fashion, design, textiles and colour disciplines each year.

Further information

LITAC incorporates:

  • FFF
  • the 3D Weaving Innovation Centre (3DWIC)
  • the Design Centre for Colour
  • the Clothworkers’ Centre for Textile Materials Innovation for Healthcare (CCTMIH).

The Clothworkers’ Company, founded in 1528, is one of the ‘Great 12 Livery Companies’ of the City of London, with the original aim of:

  • promoting the craft of clothworking
  • supervising the training of apprentices and welfare of members
  • protecting standards of workmanship.

It is among the largest private-sector supporters of textiles in the UK and was instrumental in the founding of the Yorkshire College of Science (1874), which went on to become the University of Leeds (1904).

In addition to creating the buildings in Leeds where textile and colour science activities continue today.

The Creative Industries Clusters Programme is delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and funded by UKRI. It is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which brings together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.

UKRI provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over four years since its launch in 2018. It plays a central role in the government’s modern industrial strategy.

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Top image:  Credit: GEOLEE / Getty Images

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