School to lead major fashion innovation projects

The School of Design is involved in two new multi-million pound research projects to boost creative innovation in the fashion industry.

We are delighted to have been awarded a multi-million pound grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to lead on a project boosting creative innovation in fashion. This is part of a UK wide major investment into the creative industry and the University of Leeds is one of nine clusters across the country bringing together researchers and businesses.

The project, Future Fashion Factory,  led by Professor Stephen Russell, will explore and develop new digital technologies to help improve design processes. Professor Russell said: "The vision is to transform the UK industry’s capacity for new product innovation, and to reduce lead times and waste. This will be done through the convergence of new digital and textile technologies within the fashion design process."

Aiming to transform the fashion industry’s capacity, new digital technologies will be developed to increase productivity, shrink design process lead times, lower costs, and importantly, reduce waste. Partners of the project include Yorkshire Textiles, the Royal College of Art, Burberry, Wools of New Zealand, Abraham Moon & Sons, The Textile Centre of Excellence, Camira and the British Fashion Council.Worth more than £92bn to the UK economy, creative industries exports an estimated £46bn in goods and services each year. The investment aims to create even more jobs, develop talents and drive the growth of companies, products and experiences that can be marketed around the world. 

We are also involved in a second project "The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology", a joint bid lead by University of the Arts, London. This project aims to deliver sustainable growth for the business of fashion, textiles and technology through innovation and adaptation. Dr Richard Blackburn is the leading researcher on this project working with the University of the Arts, London as well as industry collaborators including brands ASOS and Clarks.

The multi-million pound investments are two of just 9 Creative Industries Clusters Programmes, there were over 100 applications for funding as part of the programme and our two successful bids demonstrate our position as a leading UK research centre for the creative industries.

Nationwide, the fashion design industry contributes £28bn to the economy, with a growing workforce of nearly 900,000 – making it one of the largest creative industries in the country. Yorkshire is a UK centre for design and manufacturing of high value textiles – fabric made here is in high international demand, and finds its way in to some of the world’s most prestigious luxury branded products. Many of this region’s textile manufacturers are now exporting more than 65% of what they produce.

New fashion design programmes will also be created for undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers at Leeds. Industrial apprenticeship programmes are also being developed to address a skills gap in the industry for designers who can combine their art, design, science and technology skills.

To find out more about Future Fashion Factory visit the project website at