MIT-REAP Cohort Visits AW Hainsworth

Leaders from government, business, universities, finance and entrepreneurs from around the world visited one of Yorkshire’s renowned textile mills on a Future Fashion Factory-hosted tour yesterday (27 January).

Delegates from countries including Australia, the USA, Denmark, China and Norway are visiting the Leeds City Region as part of a prestigious programme led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (MIT-REAP) provides expert guidance to support regions to accelerate economic growth.

Julie Roberts speaks to visitors on the factory floor at AW Hainsworth
Julie Roberts at AW Hainsworth led a whistle-stop tour of the mill

As part of an ‘ecosystem tour’ exploring the ways entrepreneurs are supported in the region, Future Fashion Factory hosted the delegates on a visit to AW Hainsworth.

On their tour of the mill, which is still housed in its original buildings in Leeds, delegates heard about how AW Hainsworth works with and supports local fashion entrepreneurs through Hainsworth Creative Hub, as well as their support for emerging designers across the UK.

Graeme Raeburn, Performance Director at Raeburn Studios, travelled from London to speak about the support that he and his brother Christopher Raeburn received from the company in the early stages of their brand.

Raeburn Studios still uses AW Hainsworth cloth in its designs, while maintaining a clear focus on sustainability – a core theme running throughout the Future Fashion Factory programme.

Graeme Raeburn presents to the MIT-REAP visitors
Graeme Raeburn presents to the MIT-REAP visitors

Designers from across the Future Fashion Factory network also attended on the day, presenting garments made with Yorkshire cloth and wowing delegates with their unique approaches to fashion and tailoring.

In addition to Yorkshire-based brands like Cunnington & Sanderson, designers joined the tour from our partners at the Royal College of Art.

Some of the designers who met the MIT-REAP cohort at AW Hainsworth
From left: Matthew Cunnington, Graeme Raeburn, Shaonan Xu, Yvonne Lim, Rebecca Ough, Charlotte Rainey and John Sanderson.
Four mannequins and a display rail showing a variety of jackets in different colours and cuts
The fashion designers brought stunning examples of their work using Yorkshire cloth

“We’re excited to host the MIT-REAP visit and to demonstrate the important roles that innovation and connecting with emerging talent and new businesses play within our own business model,” said Adam Hainsworth, director at AW Hainsworth.

Through hearing from the team at AW Hainsworth and fashion designers at different stages in their careers, the visitors saw how Yorkshire’s long-established textile industry continues to perform among the world’s best through innovation, connectivity, and inclusive support for entrepreneurs.

Professor Stephen Russell, Director of Future Fashion Factory, added: “Yorkshire’s textile industry remains at the forefront of the sector worldwide, driven by innovative solutions to produce high-quality cloth for the world’s biggest brands.

“We are proud to welcome the MIT-REAP cohort to find out more about Future Fashion Factory’s commitment to enabling business growth.”