The British Fashion Council (BFC), UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), and UK Fashion & Textiles Association (UKFT) have launched the Circular Fashion Innovation Network (CFIN) – and the initial advisory board is populated with some of retail’s biggest names.
The new network aims to develop an “industrial scale” change programme for the fashion industry and help drive more circular behaviour. And alongside BFC and UKRI representatives, the advisory board shaping the agenda includes senior people from John Lewis, New Look, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, and Chanel.
What is the Circular Fashion Innovation Network?
According to ‘The Economic Impact of The Fashion Industry’ report by Oxford Economics, the fashion industry contributes £29 billion to the UK gross domestic product. However, ‘The Circular Fashion Ecosystem Report’ from the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) estimates the consumption of new clothes in the UK is higher than any other European country.
Against this backdrop, the CFIN comes into play to tackle high levels of consumption that is coupled with low usage and significant amounts of waste. The overall aim is to make fashion greener than it currently is.
The network, which is co-chaired by BFC CEO, Caroline Rush and UKFT CEO, Adam Mansell, will sit under the IPF and will bring together industry, innovators, investors, academia and broader stakeholders.
Those behind the CFIN said they will develop an “action-led road map” which will be developed in accordance with competition laws and other applicable laws and regulations. The network will receive £1.8 million which is jointly allocated to the BFC and UKFT to run the network.
Last month, UKRI, which is a non-departmental public body of UK government that directs research and innovation funding to chosen causes, via the science budget of the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, committed to providing nearly £5 million towards circular fashion endeavours.
Overall, the UKRI has promised £15 million to support an innovation-led approach to circular fashion, and has divided the programme into six working groups. Themes covered by these groups are: circular business models; recycling infrastructure; sustainable manufacturing; novel technology; diverse and future-proof workforce; and green growth.
Theme champions, who are also part of the CFIN advisory board, are: Kathleen Mitchell, trading director at John Lewis; Gavin Graveson, senior executive vice president for Northern Europe at Veolia; and Nigel Lugg, director at Shotley Consulting.
This trio will be tasked with leading work in developing circular business models, recycling infrastructure, and sustainable manufacturing respectively.
Who is on the CFIN advisory board?
- Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC
- Christine Kasoulis, business unit director for clothing & home at Sainsbury’s
- Helen Connolly, CEO of New Look
- Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium
- Jules Lennon, circular economy expert at Ellen MacArthur Foundation
- Lynda Petherick, non-executive director at the BFC
- Mark Hills, counsel at Mayer Brown
- Nigel Lugg, director at Shotley Consulting
- Richard Price, managing director for clothing, home, and beauty at M&S
- Stephen Russell, Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour/ Future Fashion Factory
- Tom Fiddian, Innovate UK, UKRI
What’s everyone saying about it?
Rush said: “We look forward to CFIN being the catalyst for essential transformation within the fashion industry.
“Collaboration has always been our guiding principle in effecting change. The new CFIN rests on this very spirit – our cross sector advisory board will combine and advance novel technologies and approaches, which we hope will create a world-class blueprint here in the UK.”
Mansell commented: “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 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.”
Fiddian remarked: “Innovate UK has already seen a significant increase of ground-breaking UK innovations in this space, which we are supporting, and we believe that these additional investments will be transformative for the sector.”
[Image credit: Green Retail World]