Burberry, Asos join 'first-of-its kind' R&D programme for UK fashion industry

Burberry, Asos, Clarks and the British Fashion Council will take part in a major project designed at unlocking growth for the fashion and other creative industries.


British Fashion Council, Charlie Wheeler

Led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council within UKRI, the £80 million programme will provide investment for nine creative clusters across the UK. It aims at bringing together researchers and business to explore new ways of boosting the international status of Britain’s creative industries, and spearhead their development through technology and innovation.

The nine clusters include two fashion-focused hubs. Led by the University of Leeds, the first one will focus on reducing the sector’s lead times and waste by embracing digital technologies in the design process. The University of Leeds will be working with Burberry, the Royal College of Arts, the British Fashion Council, Wools of New Zealand and Wooltex UK on the project.

Meanwhile, the University of the Arts London, supported by Asos, Clarks, the British Fashion Council, the Centre for Fashion Enterprise, London Legacy Development Corporation and the V&A, will receive resources to explore how to deliver sustainable growth through innovation and adaptation.

The R&D investment comes at a critical time for UK retailers, with the collapse of several national chains underlining the importance of embracing new technologies to avoid fading into the background. Companies like House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, New Look and Mothercare have been forced to shut stores due to the rapid advance of online shopping, while others including John Lewis & Partners and Shop Direct are investing tens of thousands of pounds to get ahead of their competitors.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Britain’s creative industries are an economic and cultural powerhouse and the Creative Clusters will ensure they continue to thrive in different regions across the country.

“These partnerships between business, academia and industry will encourage the use of future technology to develop new products and experiences, and boost employment opportunities across the breadth of the UK.”

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