The fashion manufacturing sector in the UK urgently needs to modernise, optimising production and supply chains to meet net-zero and global sustainability challenges. In this article, we outline how the UK Government can support long term garment manufacturing and help attract sustained investment.
Funded through the Made Smarter Innovation Network, Innovate UK KTN teams with expertise in Design, Manufacturing and Robotics got together with Fashion Design and Fashion Manufacturing Experts from the Royal College of Art to convene the wider community to explore how the future of UK fashion manufacturing can be secured.
Through a series of workshops with some of the leading fashion and manufacturing businesses across the UK, the team explored the potential for agile, small scale, re-shored garment manufacturing systems, the design of new business models and a newly trained, highly skilled workforce. Discussions focused on two key areas, technology and education. Emphasis was placed on outlining steps for Government-backed action to help the market grow at a faster rate and recommendations have been made for investment to support the levelling up agenda.
The future work programme will focus on the development of a stakeholder FORUM involving designers, academics, engineers, social scientists, manufacturers, fashion industry experts and economists to develop a roadmap for the future of the UK fashion manufacturing industry with the government. Introducing stakeholders to the potentials of robotics, co-robotics and new technologies to enhance business capabilities through hands-on experience facilitated by KTN will be the next step. Funding and support will be sought from UKRI and partners beyond the fashion manufacturing sector to set up a Living Lab to develop a prototype micro-factory.
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