Developing high value luxury fashion products is a lengthy creative process from design to shelf. It can take months of design time and extensive physical sampling throughout the global supply chain before the design is finalised and the product reaches the point of sale.

This means that new product design can come with significant costs in terms of labour and manufacturing resources, as well as long lead times and limited agility for businesses. We need to move more rapidly towards ‘right first time’ design decision-making, using data-driven design tools, based on AI and data analytics to understand consumer wants and needs, and develop late-stage customisation techniques in manufacturing that mean personalised products can be produced cost-effectively.

Fashion is also associated with significant textile waste and environmental impacts along the supply chain, from design and manufacturing processes to retail and to consumer habits. We need new approaches and techniques to minimise waste: ‘right first time’ design to maximise sell-through, reduce over-production, minimise the amount of waste produced, and operationalise new cost-effective recycling technologies as part of economically viable circular economies.

To make these developments sustainable and keep the UK fashion and textile industry growing, we also need STEAM-based designers who can help to shape these emerging technologies and speed up the creative product design process, reducing environmental impacts and accelerating the innovation of new products.

Flagship Innovation Challenges

Future Fashion Factory focuses on three flagship innovation challenges, split into five smaller core projects addressing key challenges facing the UK’s luxury fashion design and textile manufacturing industry.

Industrial partners will lead and define these collaborative R&D projects, focusing resources on fixing real problems in ways that can be practically implemented within a foreseeable timeframe to maximise commercial impact.

Innovation Challenge 1: Digitally Connected & Sustainable Processes

Delivering creative, cost-effective approaches for designing luxury customised products with shorter lead times, and circular economies that creatively harness innovative manufacturing technologies to reduce waste.

Core Projects:

  • Design and Manufacture: using digital and new textile technologies to design and produce designer-led, small volume, customised products while cutting lead times
  • Design Tools for Maximising Materials Utilisation: developing new manufacturing processes for reducing waste production, as well as recycling textile waste into new high-value products.

Innovation Challenge 2: Immersive Digital Communication and Data Analytics

Improving digital communication of aesthetics and exploiting deep learning, AI and data science throughout the design process, to deliver unrivalled speed and agility in decision-making for the development of luxury fashion products.

Core Projects:

  • Communication of Aesthetics: digital communication of the tactile properties, drape and other physical properties of fabric to online customers and consumers
  • Colour Meaning and International Customer Preferences: whether B2B or B2C, making better use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics to understand, forecast and interpret consumer preferences around the world, feeding into a data-driven design process.

Innovation Challenge 3: Skills and Education

Read more about our Education and Skills projects

Responsive R&D

Future Fashion Factory will also fund and support a variety of industry-led collaborative R&D projects, bringing together industry and academic partners to respond to existing business needs.

This strand of the Programme aims to support innovative, industry-focused projects in the high value fashion and textile industries that fit with any of our three key themes:

  1. Digitally Connected and Sustainable Processes
  2. Digital Communication and Data Analytics
  3. Training, Education & Workforce Development

Grant funding is available to award to eligible businesses / collaborations of businesses for projects ranging from <£10,000 up to £100,000:

  • Industrial Challenge Projects (ICP): awards of up to £100k to enable individual or groups of cluster partners to rapidly implement new design practices in a commercial setting
  • Proof of Concept (PoC): awards of £50-100k to turn proven science into tested and validated technology with a clear application in the fashion and textile industry
  • Proof of Market (PoM): awards up to £10k, usually scoping projects to identify existing gaps in the market.

Proposals will include at least one industry and one academic partner and involve collaboration with a Yorkshire-based business. An element of match funding is also required.

Each individual funding call will be advertised on this website. If you are interested in applying, please contact the Programme team to discuss your ideas.