Future Fashion Factory Supports 12 More Sustainable Fashion Innovation Projects

  • Over £1 million investment in sustainable fashion and textile innovation was secured through Future Fashion Factory’s fourth Innovation Funding Call 
  • Total investment secured through grant calls exceeds £3.3 million 
  • 12 collaborative R&D projects were successful in Innovation Funding Call 4 

Images (clockwise from top): Vorteq Sports, Assyst Bullmer, Weffan, Hylo Athletics, Abraham Moon & Sons, Digitoile

Twelve collaborative research and development (R&D) projects were successful in Future Fashion Factory’s latest round of R&D grant funding, taking the total investment in fashion and textile innovation secured so far to just over £3.3 million. 

Embracing a variety of tools and approaches to achieve agile, profitable, sustainable fashion and textile manufacturing in the UK, the projects enable businesses to solve pressing industry challenges through collaborative research with industry and academic partners. 

Independent fashion brands, heritage Yorkshire mills, and manufacturers at each stage of the fashion and textile value chain are among the successful businesses. 

Together they are addressing challenges such as using waste as a raw material in a circular economy, integrating AI into intelligent data-driven design and manufacturing, and developing the UK’s agile manufacturing and product development capabilities to support re-shoring. 

Future Fashion Factory is part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, an £80 million initiative led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Programme is led by the University of Leeds in partnership with the University of Huddersfield and Royal College of Art. 

Projects will tackle challenges including: 

  • Communicating accurate colour information digitally without sending physical yarn samples (Abraham Moon & Sons
  • New tools and technologies enabling UK fashion ‘micro-factories’ (Assyst Bullmer)
  • Testing the user journey for an AI-driven virtual bra fitting service (Brarista
  • Integrated, intuitive, user customized design platform for fashion creatives (Digitoile
  • A circular manufacturing process for sustainable running shoes (Hylo Athletics
  • A robotic prototype of a combined digital-design-engineering system for 3D weaving (Optima 3D
  • Developing AI and machine learning to automate factory planning (Pennine Weavers)
  • An advanced, circular swimwear material made from waste synthetic sportswear (RubyMoon Gym to Swim
  • High-quality yarns for the luxury fashion market from Yorkshire-grown hemp (SeFF Fibre
  • Biodegradable sequins made from waste and industrial by-products (The Sustainable Sequin Company
  • A new weaving facility to test cutting-edge performance fabrics in the UK (Vorteq Sports
  • A proof-of-concept collection of 3D-woven trousers (Weffan

Professor Stephen Russell, Director of Future Fashion Factory, said: “The fashion and textile industry has a huge role to play in achieving Net Zero and tackling other environmental challenges, as well as in creating economic opportunities by supporting the sustainable growth of design and manufacturing in the UK. 

“These projects reflect the commitment of businesses to innovation that will help the industry meet these ambitions by reducing waste, using alternative materials, and enabling accurate digital communication about garments and fabrics so that only what is necessary, is made.”

Images (l-r): Pennine Weavers, Brarista, RubyMoon Gym to Swim, SeFF Fibre

Bella Ngo, co-founder and CEO of Brarista, said: “We are extremely excited to be working with such reputable individuals, and for the opportunity to include this research in the evolution of our product. The outcome of this project will enable us to bring to market a product which will disrupt an industry and positively impact the health of bra-wearers everywhere.”

Kathryn McGee, founder of Digitoile, said: “Finding digital solutions for creative experimentation will be an asset to the fashion community, to enhance the early stages of design ideation in a fast-evolving digital landscape. I can’t wait to get started on this project to begin the development of these tools.”

Managing Director and co-founder of Hylo Athletics Michael Doughty said: “We are very grateful to have the support of Future Fashion Factory in our pursuit to ensure that Hylo takes accountability for its products from beginning to end.”

Pennine Weavers Managing Director Gary Eastwood said: “Pennine Weavers and our software partner Juno Software are delighted that our project has been approved. Pennine Weavers has always prided itself at being at the forefront of systems development and implementation in the textile industry and we believe this project will not only have benefits for Pennine Weavers but potentially the whole industry. Working alongside the University of Leeds we believe we can develop an AI-based planning system which will maximise effectiveness and efficiency of the resources employed internally, and deliver considerable benefits to both our customers and suppliers.”

RubyMoon Gym to Swim founder Jo Godden said: “We are excited to be part of the Future Fashion Factory programme to accelerate this development in circular economy textiles. The future of textiles is circular and we want to make that future happen now.”

Joshua Nusenbaum, CEO of SeFF Fibre, said: “We are excited to be awarded this grant and to be working with the University of Leeds and our great project partners. Having already featured in a successful global product launch in the denim industry, we are looking forward to further optimising SeFF hemp for other high value apparel applications.”

Rachel Clowes, founder of The Sustainable Sequin Company, said: “I am thrilled to begin this project to develop and manufacture biodegradable sequins in the UK supported by Future Fashion Factory and through collaboration with University of Leeds and Royal College of Art. The overall aim is maximum sparkle with minimum adverse environmental impacts; plastic-free sequins which look great, perform perfectly and biodegrade at end of life.”

Managing Director at Vorteq Sports Rob Lewis said: “Vorteq are delighted to be working with the University of Leeds on this exciting project to develop new aerodynamic fabrics for a wide range of sports. This new capability will compliment and in many ways complete the toolset and capability Vorteq has at Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub.”  

Graysha Audren, co-founder of Weffan, said: “Weffan revolutionises clothing production by weaving fully-fashioned 3D woven garments reimagined with existing, automated technology.”