Apparel Advance: towards a sustainable apparel manufacturing ecosystem
No matter how the data are analysed, UK fashion industry’s value to the UK’s GDP is circa. £30 billion, employing approximately 600,000 people. The UK Textile & Apparel sector is, therefore, a strategically essential sector in its economic and social impact. Whilst most of this revenue and employment resides in retail, the UK Textile & Apparel sector’s creative and manufacturing aspects are influential and important dimensions of this dynamic, but maligned, industry.
Manufacturing is, arguably, the poor relation in the UK Textile & Apparel sector, as with many UK industrial sectors. This is because the UK Textile & Apparel sector is rooted in, and remains perceived as, a mundane and foundational economic paradigm (Froud et al., 2018).
Whilst the above situation has its merits – and is appropriate for the inclusion of people with different skills and talents to offer – it is time for a shift in this paradigm. We need a paradigm shift that accepts, and promotes, an equitable distribution of reward.
This project will imagineer an Advance in Apparel through a symbiotic manufacturing ecosystem for circularity in creation and consumption in the UK Textile and Apparel Sector. It will:
Identify opportunities and barriers for the creation of an innovative manufacturing symbiotic ecosystem enabled by digital technologies in apparel manufacture.
Identify business, digital technology, and materials science challenges hindering the implementation of industrial collaboration practices between manufacturing firms in the North West and East Midlands Textile and Apparel sector.
Identify manufacturing synergies opportunities, gaps, and solutions for the NW and EM Textile and Apparel sector in the light of circular economy practices.
Develop a dedicated information platform that enables access to information about available manufacturers, products, components, by-products, and waste that can be used in exchange transactions.
Having initially trained and worked as a sewing machine technician, I have held positions as an industrial engineer and production manager in the garment manufacturing industry, in the UK and Morocco, as well as having been a member of a retail buying team as a textile and garment technologist. As an experienced educator I have been recognized as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. As a Chartered Member of the Textile Institute, I was made a Fellow in its centenary year. I am Editor of the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, an academic and professional journal from the Emerald Management Portfolio.
Recently completed research in the area of re-shoring UK Apparel Manufacturing includes a commissioned report ‘Coming Back? Capability & Precarity in UK Textiles & Apparel’ that presented to the House of Lords a view of evolving regional clusters, a need for a supportive business ecology and dire need to redress maker/ retailer asymmetry of power and influence. Current research projects focus on sustainable product development and manufacturing processes in textiles and apparel; equitably distributed manufacturing for an industry 4.0 enabled virtual factory.