All Talk and No Action – BFTT: Mapping the UK Fashion Textiles & Technology Ecosystem Report
The Business of Fashion, Textiles & Technology (BFTT) is a five-year industry-led project, which focusses on delivering sustainable innovation within the entire fashion and textile supply chain. A collaboration between the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology Creative Research & Development Partnership, the research was compiled by Professor Jane Harris, Dr Lipi Begum and Dr Alessandra Vecchi.
For the initial report: Mapping the UK Fashion, Textiles and Technology Ecosystem research was collated by a partnership between six universities, led by the University of the Arts London. Last year (2021) Fashion-Enter Ltd CEO Jenny Holloway took part in a survey for the report to identify opportunities for investment, research and development, business growth, job creation and tackling skills gaps in the fashion and textiles sector.
To read the report tap the following links:
According to the BFTT the report is based on a survey consultation that engaged over 2,400 small, medium and micro businesses (SMEs) and over 100 stakeholders and intermediaries, including industry specialists, trade bodies and workspace providers. However, a number of industry leaders are concerned that this extensive report is:
- 3-years out of date
- Has not progressed from reports already published e.g. Industriall-Union
- Has taken too long to compile with no progressive action points
- Lacks peer to peer review
- Has used up substantial government funding to prop up PhD’s
- Is not fit for purpose
Fashion is estimated to contribute £35 billion to the British economy every year, while £74 billion+ is spent by UK consumers on wider apparel, clothing accessories, household textiles and carpets, accounting for 890,000 people employed across the UK, and £9 billion of export. However, the industry is in trouble – post-Brexit and post-Covid and government intervention and support is needed to ensure skills, growth and technical advancement is achieved to guarantee the sectors future.
With regards to the contents of the report Fashion-Enter CEO Jenny Holloway stated:
‘I think the report is behind the curve and it’s a disappointment. I also think the BFTT are hoping to use this as a basis for the next round of funding too which actually I am not happy to support. The report is missing vital information about current trends and data. We have independently managed to create a micro factory, reuse wool etc, why would we pass on these learnings free of charge when the BFTT are excessively funded for this research?
The report comments in the summary…
“Fashion, Textiles & Technology Skills Shortfall Business development skills 4.2 Team/collaborative working 4.1 Leadership skills 4.0 Customer service skills 4.0 Crafts/technical skills 3.8.”
‘This is wholly incorrect. While it is about digital technologies and those skills combined with traditional skills, micro factories etc. I question the sample size 2,500 companies are participating (?) and the quality of the answers generated.
‘Industry is leading the way and the body behind the report is not industry led and hence contributes to out of date data. The BFTT has had significant funding to produce this report; you could have engaged with companies and paid for quality advice.
“The survey work was generously supported by a number of UK regional networks, and the following UK wide networks; UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT): ukft.org, British Fashion Council (BFC): britishfashioncouncil.co.uk, Future Fashion Factory Creative R&D Partnership (FFF CRDP – £5.4m), led by the University of Leeds: futurefashionfactory.org.
‘How long ago did you start and when did you finish. What was the time lag? Does that explain how out of date this report is? Where did £5.4m go?
‘The report further comments on: “A critical opportunity for a circular UK fashion and textiles sector is not only restoring old equipment to produce heritage textiles but also producing advanced new technical textiles and recovered or regenerated materials.”
‘Why on earth would you restore old machinery – where would you find the parts from, the technicians – why wouldn’t you invest in new technologies which are the future?
‘There is a lot more I could comment on and I shall voice my opinions on our own websites. I know this will sound as though I am being negative but I don’t feel as though the BFTT have engaged with industry correctly. As an experienced industry professional I can see how hard it is for fashion businesses across the entire supply chain and I am not happy to endorse old data that will change very little in the long run.’