Fashion and Textiles lecturer helps probe sustainability failings in fashion

Dr Jules Findley Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles is participating in a multi-university project looking at current sustainable practice across the creative industries including sourcing, use, disposal and recycling of materials – from silversmithing to digital equipment.

The Sustainable Materials In The Creative Industries (SMICI) project, which will also pick out examples of  innovative sustainability initiatives around the world, will focus on the fashion industry’s particularly damaging record with regard to sustainability. The sector is among the largest polluters in the world – according to UN data, contributing 10% of global greenhouse emissions due to long supply chains, energy intensive production and wastefulness. For example, the industry uses an estimated20,000 litres of waterto make cotton for just one T-shirt and a pair of jeans.

“The fashion industry – and, in particular, textiles – needs to literally clean up their act. There are many changes that need to happen, especially where buyers purchase products in the global markets. There is an urgent need to re-educate the consumer” says Dr Findley.

Changing consumer attitudes is crucial given figures showing the average person is buying 60 percent more garments than 15 years ago, yet keeping each item half as long.

The SMICI project is being led by Dr Peter Oakley, Reader in Material Culture at the Royal College of Art, as well as researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Plymouth. The project team is being supported by advisors from the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London and Birmingham City University.

Each institution will focus on a different sector. Complementing the Brighton research – examining  fashion, textiles, accessories, leather and paper – the RCA will look at architectural design, applied arts, design, fine arts, museums, galleries and heritage, plus the use of general digital equipment. Edinburgh is studying film and photography, and Plymouth will lead on theatre, dance and performance. Each institution will write a report and contribute a case study of an outstanding performing arts organisation outside of the UK.

The SMICI project is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council(AHRC) as part of their Where Next? Scoping Future Arts and Humanities Led Research programme.

Complementary projects include a study exploring future ways culture can assist economic recovery, renewal and resilience of towns, plus a project entitled Cultural Heritage 360that will bring arts experts together with scientists and social scientists to identify how different disciplines can jointly research cultural heritage.


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