Skip to main content

Your creative future starts here:


BFTT publishes insightful report on future of UK fashion, textiles and technology

BFTT mapping report
  • Written byTash Payne
  • Published date 15 September 2021
BFTT mapping report

The Business of Fashion, Textiles & Technology (BFTT) has published a major report which identifies opportunities for growth and investment in the UK fashion, textiles and technology (FTT) industry.

The report, entitled Mapping the UK Fashion, Textiles and Technology Ecosystem, is the first comprehensive insight into the UK FTT ecosystem up to March 2020. It is based on a survey consultation of over 2,400 small, medium and micro businesses (SMEs) and over 100 industry specialists, trade bodies and workspace providers.

  • Based on the survey findings, the report makes 9 key recommendations for the research and development (R&D) needs of the industry, including:
  • Government-supported nationwide business guidance workshops on what constitutes R&D, aligned with HMRC’s criteria for obtaining funding
  • Government-supported SME pathways to applying for R&D funding and tax reliefBusiness development support for financial forecasting and resilience planning
  • Awareness-raising of the cultural contribution of fashion and textiles, and the role of technology in manufacturing, retail, consumption and recycling
  • Funding support for universities to play a larger role in supporting the future FTT skills pipeline

Fashion is estimated to contribute £35 billion to the British economy every year, while £74 billion+ is spent by UK consumers on fashion and textile goods. The industry employs 890,000 people in the UK. The BFTT’s report should strongly influence both the way the sector is viewed as an economic resource of national importance and future allocation of the investment it needs to thrive.

The emergent Fashion, Textiles and Technology Institute (FTTI) will build on foundations set by the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) project. The Institute will engage in high-value collaborative research and development to tackle the challenges and opportunities for innovation that the FTT industry and adjacent sectors are seeking to urgently address.

Professor Jane Harris, BFTT and FTTI Director and report co-author, comments: “This report is the first to position textiles and apparel squarely as part of a much wider network or ecosystem that encompasses an enormous variety of significant and highly investable 21st-century sectors. There are entirely new opportunities for research and development funding to support the established industry, in addition to an emergent, technology-savvy, environmentally engaged and agile fashion, textiles and technology culture based around small, medium and micro enterprises. Despite the current global challenges, there is tremendous potential for the future of the UK FTT industry.”

The report originates from the BFTT Creative R&D partnership, led by UAL as part of the Creative Industries Cluster Programme, funded by the Industrial Strategy and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Centre (AHRC) on behalf of UK Research and Innovation.

The report authors are:

  • Professor Jane Harris, Director of the BFTT Creative R&D Partnership, and Professor of Digital Design and Innovation, UAL
  • Dr Lipi Begum, BFTT Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UAL, and Senior Lecturer in Fashion Management
  • Dr Alessandra Vecchi, BFTT Co-Investigator, UAL, and Reader in International Fashion Business Research

A second survey, focusing on the impact of Brexit and Covid-19 on the industry, is now underway. Led by UAL in collaboration with the University of Leeds’ Future Fashion Factory, this second phase will provide insight regarding emergent opportunities, technology and innovation across the industry.

Read the full report on the BFTT website.