- Start date: 01.11.23
- End date: 31.10.25.
- Funder: UKRI NERC
- Primary investigator: Prof. Stephen Russell
- Co-investigators: Prof. Phil Purnell
- External co-investigators: Prof. Liz Barnes, Prof. Amanda Briggs-Goode, Dr Dawn Ellams, Prof Parikshit Goswami, Prof. Jane Harris, Prof. Effie Kesidou, Adam Mansell, Prof. Phil Purnell and Catherine Salvidge.
Partners and collaborators
Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion & Textiles is a £2M collaborative research project funded by The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to accelerate progress towards establishing a research-validated baseline to analyse the UK fashion & textile sector’s current sustainability status. It will enable the formulation of future strategy aligned with environmental targets.
Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion & Textiles is establishing comprehensive, research validated environmental and design baselines, standards and principles for the UK industry by:
- Assimilating robust scientific data to build a clear and honest picture of the current baseline position in the UK, as well as highlighting remaining data gaps.
- Establishing baseline requirements across multiple thematic areas and identifying priority environmental target areas, eco-credentials and standards, technical innovation, skills gaps, cultures and behaviours.
- Convening interactive events to support evidence gathering and analysis, bringing together multidisciplinary expertise to facilitate collaboration, breaking down disciplinary silos and increasing cross-sector and academic-industry engagement.
- Providing evidence-based recommendations for forward-strategy to meet sustainability targets, highlighting key target areas where focused intervention would generate the most substantial environmental gains.
Given the well documented environmental challenges associated with the fashion and textile industry and rising consumption, a strategy for sustainable transformation is needed. However, rather than relying on generalised data, the scale and complexity of current supply chains and differences between specific products need to be considered, from cradle to grave.
Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion & Textiles is a multi-disciplinary, academic-industry collaborative research project led by the University of Leeds, working in collaboration with Heriot Watt University, University of Huddersfield, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Manchester Fashion Institute, University of Newcastle, Nottingham Trent University, the University of the Arts London (UAL) and the Royal College of Art (RCA). The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) and the Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP) are also part of the core research team.
Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion & Textiles is part of UKRI’s circular fashion and textile programme (sub-network 2) and is funded by The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
The research is addressing baseline data requirements across five Thematic Areas, all of which contribute to the sustainable development and environmental impacts of the fashion and textile industry. Each thematic area (TA) is being addressed by teams of researchers, working with expert theme leaders.
TA1 Determine environmental target areas
Leads: Prof. Phil Purnell, Dr. Dawn Ellams, & Prof. Parikshit Goswami
The research is critically reviewing current baselines to understand the environmental impact of fashion and textiles and is focusing on extracting key metrics perceived to represent these impacts (e.g., carbon emissions, land use, emissions to water and other values). It is also reviewing the accuracy and precision of such metrics through analysis of existing LCA data, national carbon accounts, and other proxy data. The work will determine high impact target areas for environmental improvement, outlining evidence-based standards and key performance indicators. It will create a broad and interdisciplinary evidence base for improving the sustainability of design, manufacturing and consumption behaviours and analyse commonly proposed ‘green’ interventions in terms of their probable environmental impacts on an agreed subset of key metrics, across the supply chain. Finally, this research is exploring the baselines that need to be established to facilitate end of life reuse / recycling / remanufacturing / disposal, and to determine the likely environmental savings achievable by various end-of-life destination scenarios, associated infrastructure requirements, and potential policy levers that could help develop the reuse/recycling sector.
TA2 Develop effective eco-credential standards
Lead: Prof. Effie Kesidou
The research is addressing the development of eco-standards to support a systemic green transformation. It is evaluating current eco-credential standards within the industry, and critically reviewing current and emerging approaches to devising and building eco-credential metrics for fashion and textiles, as well as in other industries, where good practice insights may be gained. This work will collate data on current eco-credential standards, including their use and effectiveness, and assess their benefits and consequences. The research will also explore deficiencies of existing eco-credential metrics and standards, including mechanisms for addressing limitations such as over-generalisations and simplifications in LCAs and the accounting of missing aspects, e.g., the ‘renewability’ of natural/ synthetic materials, real-world variations in the impacts of differnet textile materials made by different producers, and recycled or bio-based materials from different sources. Finally, evidence-based, scientifically robust approaches for building new metrics for communicating eco-credentials relevant to industry and government policy will be suggested to enable informed decision-making.
TA3 Assess progress in innovation (current, emerging and future)
Lead: Prof Jane Harris
This research is critically reviewing and evaluating emerging and future capabilities and the developmental progress of current and emerging technologies, innovations and solutions, including, for example, new bio-based feedstocks, e.g., waste/unused agricultural biomass, new textile manufacturing processes (end-to-end), textile engineering techniques to prevent microplastics emissions at source, or methods to significantly reduce their impact in the environment, as well as innovative sorting and waste recycling technologies. It will identify examples of operational innovation and best practice in the F&T industry, capable of substantially reducing carbon impacts and accelerating circularity, and will seek to work in collaboration with industry to explore existing and potential barriers to adoption of emergent innovation.
TA4 Identify major skills gaps
Leads: Prof. Amanda Briggs-Goode & Adam Mansell
The industry increasingly relies on an aging workforce with a mismatched skillset and the shortage of skills is the focus for Thematic Area 4. The research is addressing the industry’s skills requirements across three predominant categories: professional, educational and consumer, both in terms of the current and future workforce, and best practice for effectively harnessing expertise to support sustainable development. It will also address the need for better understanding by consumers and other stakeholders about sustainability and eco-credentials. It will highlight skills gaps and relevant expertise for delivering economically viable, environmentally sustainable transformation. It will pilot approaches to nurture interdisciplinary skills and the breaking down of different disciplinary silos. Novel approaches for attracting new entrants into the industry and the provision of multidisciplinary skills and education (HEI programmes through to business settings) will be explored and developed, including designing business models to embed new skills.
TA5 Understand & influence cultures & behaviours
Leads: Prof. Liz Barnes & Catherine Salvidge
The research aims to understand and integrate cultures and behaviour across the industry ecosystem. It is exploring current behaviours and cultural factors that restrict, or could be harnessed to drive, positive behaviour change at every level, enabling informed decision-making by the whole ecosystem. It is also creating new initiatives and educational tools for influencing positive consumer behaviour change, including exploring innovative methods based on science-based evidence, e.g., digital tools, immersive games, financial incentives, advertising, and social media, harnessing examples of best practice, involving industry and considering the role of policy, standards and regulation. It will address the challenges of current ‘push models’ of business that have been linked to overproduction and overconsumption in the UK, and the integral link with consumer/business behaviour.
Professor Stephen Russell
University of Leeds
Stephen is Professor of Textile Materials and Technology and the Founding Director of the £21.1M Leeds Institute of Textiles & Colour (LITAC) in the School of Design, University of Leeds. As Director of the £6.1M Future Fashion Factory (FFF) programme for over five years funded by AHRC and which formed part of UKRI’s Creative Industries Cluster Programme, he manages a large academic-industry network involving over 550 industry partners including some of the UK’s leading fashion and textile PLCs and SMEs, as well as overseeing multiple collaborative innovation projects linked to sustainable development of the UK’s fashion and textile industry. With a background in textile science and technology and over 250 publications, his main areas of expertise are in textile engineering, technical textile design, fibre science, textile manufacturing and the structure and properties of nonwoven fabrics. In addition to academic research, he is a co-founder of two University of Leeds spinout companies and has nearly twenty years product development experience in the textile industry. In 2013 Professor Russell became a Freeman of the City of London and an Honorary Liveryman of the Clothworkers Company.
Professor Phil Purnell
University of Leeds
Phil is Professor of Materials and Structures in the School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds. He manages projects and networks at the intersections between Engineering, Economics and Environmental Science. Phil's background is in concrete technology, but his current publication portfolio also spans composite durability, biomaterials, critical materials, infrastructure transitions, carbon footprints for construction materials, 3D printing and non-destructive testing, waste management and the circular economy. He is an advisor for UKRI and DEFRA and holds visiting positions at the Royal College of Art and the University of Cambridge.
Network Partners & Research Leads
CEO, UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT)
Adam joined the industry 25 years ago and has worked across a wide number of trade bodies. Having represented all aspects of the fashion and textile supply chain, Adam has links to every part of the industry, from design, fabric and component suppliers, wholesalers, brands, manufacturers, and retail. Adam also represents the industry on a wide range of panels and groups. He is Chair of the Future Fashion Factory (FFF) Steering Group, a £6.1M collaborative industry-academic research programme and a LITAC Advisory Board Member. Adam Chairs the Innovate UK funded ACT Recycling Demonstrator project and is Co-Chair of the Circular Fashion Innovation Network (CFIN). He is on the Advisory Board of both Textiles 2030 and the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF). He Chairs the fashion and textiles skills charity, CAPITB and sits on several other national and international industry boards.
Strategic Technical Manager – Textiles, Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP)
Cat joined WRAP in 2020, playing a key role in the launch of Textiles 2030, WRAP’s groundbreaking initiative to accelerate the UK’s fashion and textile industry towards a circular economy and Net Zero. Cat is a specialist in sustainable and circular textiles and leads the technical strategy for Textile 2030, as well as collaborative working groups, bringing together businesses from across the sector with academia and knowledge partners to catalyse change. In her role at WRAP Cat has led the co-development of key industry publications and guidance, including the Textiles 2030 Circularity Roadmap and Textiles 2030 Circular Design Toolkit. Before WRAP, Cat worked as a fashion designer for over 10 years for some of the UK most well-known high street brands. She is passionate about using her experience within the sector to support the industry to take practical & evidence-based action to reduce its impacts on people and planet. Textiles 2030 is WRAP’s new, ambitious, world-leading voluntary agreement for the UK fashion and textile industry.
Dr. Dawn Ellams
Royal College of Art (RCA)
Dawn Ellams is a Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art. Dawn’s background in sustainable design and circular systems development uses design research as a catalyst for innovation within multi-disciplinary and complex industry collaborations. Her current research explores R&D activities within UK fashion and textiles supply chains, focussing on the impact that materials, systems and manufacturing innovations can have on current and future sustainable practices and places.
Professor Parikshit Goswami
University of Huddersfield
Professor Goswami’s domains of research are product development using flexible materials and application of chemistry for functionalising textiles. Parik manages a large profile of research concerned with fibre/polymer science, nonwovens, medical textiles (implantable materials and non-implantable materials), sustainable materials (fundamentally understand the properties of new material), application and development of nano/submicron fibres for novel applications, and plasma treatment for functionalising textiles and textile chemistry. He is a member of Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC), Education, Qualifications and Accreditation Board (EQAB), a trustee of SDC, and was a member of EDANA’s R&D working group. Professor Goswami is also the first academic to be appointed to the board of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT). He is also a member of the advisory board for Textiles 2030 led by WRAP, a global Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in the UK that works with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used sustainably. Professor Goswami is a Freeman of the City of London and the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, and is currently the President of Bradford Textile Society.
Professor Effie Kesidou
University Of Leeds
Professor Effie Kesidou is an applied economist with expertise in the Economics of Innovation, Environmental Economics & Sustainability. She is a Chair in Economics of Innovation and Sustainability at Leeds University Business School, a Senior Research Associate at Enterprise Research Centre, Warwick Business School, a CORD Fellow at the Centre for Organization Research & Design, Arizona State University, and the Head of the Graduate School in the Faculty of Business, University of Leeds. Her research is interdisciplinary and uses applied economic methods to understand how businesses and regions can become more sustainable via innovation. Effie has received funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), European Commission (H2020), and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). She has published her research in world-leading high impact journals such as Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Product Innovation Management, World Development, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Organization Studies, Economics Letters, Business Strategy and the Environment, International Journal of Production Economics, Journal of Environmental Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Business History, Research Policy, Ecological Economics, Industry and Innovation.
Professor Jane Harris
University of the Arts London
Director of the University of the Arts London, Fashion, Textiles and Technology Institute (UAL, FTTI) with over £20m investment to date, Professor Harris is Director / PI of the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT - £6m) one of nine Creative R&D Partnerships funded by the AHRC Creative Industries Clusters Programme (CICP, 2018-24). Professor Harris is Co-I on two Circular Fashion Network+ initiatives led by the Universities of Leeds, and Exeter (2023-25). As PI, leading development of AHRC funded VP/XR Lab specialising in textiles and dress at UAL, Professor Harris is also Co-I on a UK EPSRC Digital Economy Network Plus Award (2022-27) establishing a UK wide Virtual Production Network led by the University of York. As Director of Research and Innovation (East Bank), Professor Harris operates at the intersection of design, STEM, cultural anthropology and business practices, leading development of strategic partnerships aligning to the new UAL campus for London College of Fashion, as part of the emergent East Bank on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. A member of the Peer Review College for AHRC, she is also advisor to EPSRC, NERC, ESRC, EU ICT.
Professor Amanda Briggs- Goode
Nottingham Trent University
Amanda Briggs Goode is Head of Department for Fashion, Textiles and Knitwear Design and Professor of Textiles at the Nottingham School of Art and Design, Nottingham Trent University. She has published widely on fashion and textiles, archives and textile heritage (Printed Textile Design, Laurence King; Textile Design, Woodhead and the Textile Institute; Crafting Anatomies, Bloomsbury). She curated the highly successful 2018 exhibition Lace Unarchived and co-lead Lace:Here:Now a city-wide season of events in 2013. She has been a Co-I on 'Textile Tales' a Heritage Lottery Fund project and the 'Internet of Soft Things' an EPSRC funded project.
Professor Liz Barnes
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)
Liz is a Professor of Fashion Marketing and Head of Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her expertise relates to issues of fashion production and consumption. Recent research has explored fast fashion, omnichannel consumer behaviour, luxury fashion and social media marketing. Liz has published extensively in this field and is regularly invited to present on these themes across the world.
Some of her early fashion marketing research focused on fast fashion, examining the concept as the fashion retail sector in the UK shifted to respond to changing competition and supply chain structures in the early 2000s. As a result of this work, Liz co-authored a seminal paper titled 'Fast fashioning the supply chain: shaping the research agenda' which has 807 citations (as of January 2024), and jointly guest edited two special 'fast fashion' issues of the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management in 2005, and again in 2013, demonstrating the continued interest in the subject. Fast fashion remains topical although much of the debate is now focused on the sustainability challenges associated with fast fashion, and Liz remains an authority on the topic, and is regularly asked to contribute to media articles on the subject.
She is on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Fashion Marketing & Management, Deputy Chair of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes and on the Events Committee of the Textile Institute.
Liz holds a PhD from the University of Manchester in which she explored design management and innovation through a marketing lens, a degree in Management & Marketing of Textiles from UMIST and a PGCert from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Liz has held a number of academic appointments, most recently as Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning at the University of Manchester prior to taking on the role of Head of Manchester Fashion Institute, one of the largest fashion schools in the UK, in 2019.
Martyn is a Behaviour Change Specialist in WRAP’s Materials System Transformation team. Martyn provides techncial leadership to WRAP’s Textiles 2030 and the UK Plastics Pact voluntary agreements. Designing behaviour change interventions, influencing policy, identifying moments of transformation and harnessing citizen insights across WRAP’s portfolio of projects and campaigns. Martyn has recently led the creation of WRAP’s Citizen Guiding Statements, working with Textiles 2030 signatories to develop clear and consistent messaging for the industry to use when engaging citizens on textiles.
Professor John Barrett OBE
University of Leeds
John is Chair in Energy and Climate Policy at the Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds with research interests in energy demand and environmental scenario modelling, sustainable consumption and production, and industrial energy and resource efficiency strategies. John is also co-director of the UKRI Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS).
Associate Professor Lisa Macintyre
Associate Professor of Textiles and School Director of PGR studies
Lisa Macintyre is a textile technologist, Associate Professor of Textiles and School Director of PGR studies. She completed her prize-winning PhD, on optimising pressure garments for hypertrophic burn scars, as a part-time PhD student in 2004. Her subsequent work with students, NHS therapists and international pressure garment companies has improved the fit, quality, aftercare regimes and longevity of compression products globally. Lisa is passionately committed to teaching students at all levels about the use, properties, production and relative sustainability of textile materials. She is currently supervising PhD students working on fibre-to-fibre recycling, test methods for fibre fragmentation, interventions to help sustainably motivated consumers reduce the intention-behaviour gap in fashion consumption and flax processing.
Professor Susan Postlethwaite
Manchester Fashion Institute (MMU)
Susan is Professor of Fashion Technologies and Director of the Robotics Living Lab and Leader of the Fashion Technologies Research Group at Manchester Fashion Institute.
Dr Jane Scott
Dr Jane Scott is a Newcastle University Academic Track Fellow (NUAcT) in Living Textiles. Her research is located at the intersection of programmable materials, knitted fabric design, textile technology and biology. As a textile specialist her research challenges the established understanding of smart materials for architecture; applying principles derived from biology to the development of environmentally responsive textile systems composed of natural and sustainable materials.
Dr. Mark Sumner
University of Leeds
A lecturer in sustainability, retail and fashion, having previously spent over 15 years working in retail for a major international company. Mark’s research is based on a blend of academic input and industrial experience; I have worked in retail as a textile technologist and more recently as a Sustainability Specialist for one of the UKs largest retailers. This experience is complimented by my active involvement in several industry, governmental and national forums as well as specialist support for various organisations via tailored consultancy. Mark’s research interests are broad, covering a diverse range of subjects such as textile technology, innovation, sustainability, and consumer behaviour.
Associate Director, LITAC
University of Leeds
Sue is LITAC’s Associate Director responsible for managing the operational activities of the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour, which is linked to the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion & Textiles project. Bringing a wealth of project / programme management experience to the team Sue has worked variously within Local Government, Regional Agencies, the Higher Education Sector and SMEs, this background giving her a broad understanding of the needs and drivers of B2B partners.
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To establish comprehensive, scientifically validated and well evidenced environmental and design baselines, standards and principles for the fashion and Textile industry.
General enquiries to the B2B Network Coordinator at: NPlusFT@leeds.ac.uk
School of Design
University of Leeds