Scottish Textile News
A multi-disciplinary research team from Robert Gordon University’s fashion and computing schools are working with Shanghai academics to educate consumers about the craftsmanship, heritage and value of traditional fashion and textile products towards sustainability, both in the UK and in China.
The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) UK-China Creative Industries Partnership Development Grant called ‘From Augmented to Authentic: Weaving the Past into the Future’ explores how immersive experience and techniques could be used to represent and preserve the history and heritage of traditional fashion and textile products.
It brings together a multi-disciplinary RGU research team: Yang Jiang, lecturer and researcher in Digital Media and Computer Animations & Gaming at the School of Computing; Karen Cross, course Leader for fashion management at the School of Creative and Cultural Business and Josie Steed, course leader for fashion and textile design at Gray’s School of Art; together with Professor Rong Zheng from the Donghua University and Shanghai International Fashion Innovation Centre, as well as UK and Chinese creative businesses and organisations within fashion and textiles.
Project lead Jiang said: “Our aim is to use modern, immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) to preserve the history and heritage of traditional fashion and textile products. We’re delighted to be attracting so much interest in our project from a range of organisations and businesses both here in the UK and in Shanghai.
“The project is one of only 14 national projects funded by the AHRC and the sole funded project from Scotland and the only project focusing on Fashion & Textiles in this funding scheme, a priority area for economic and cultural development for the Chinese Government.”
Steed said: “Fashion faces many challenges – the current generation of wearers is the first to be so far removed from how their clothing is produced and the prevalence of fast fashion has seen clothing reduced to transient items, worn for a short period of time, then discarded.”
“Fast fashion has pushed price downwards, moving textile and clothing production to low cost labour countries and decimating the traditional Scottish textile economy,” she added. “The surviving Scottish textile companies find it difficult to attract young people to work with them, leading to a skills shortage within the industry.
“Fast fashion also drives consumer need for newness, uses resources that are finite and damaging to the environment and creates much landfill waste.
“In 2018, the pressure to move towards a more sustainable fashion and textile industry has grown and this project seeks to explore ways to educate the consumer to the sustainability, craftsmanship, heritage and value of traditional fashion and textile products, using the growing medium of fashion film and immersive technologies.”
The project brings together a collaboration between RGU and Donghua University with the aim of building long-term and sustainable research and industry partnerships.
Steed said: “China and the UK both have long histories and cultural traditions related to textiles and clothing. Scotland’s tradition of tweed and tartan, cashmere and woollens continues to survive today through SMEs producing luxury products.
“A parallel can be drawn with China’s rich history of cultivating and producing beautiful silk products such as the Qi Pao, Han Fu and Song Jin, and to their position as one of the world’s largest textile and clothing producers. Fashion has embraced computer technology, with online sales continuing to grow and fashion film increasingly being used to market creative designs.”
Together they will research immersive techniques which could be used to represent and preserve the history and heritage of traditional fashion and textile products, and transfer them into modern design to meet the current and future fashion trends.
So far an academic and industry team has visited Shanghai during Shanghai Fashion Festival in April and an academic visit to further the collaboration with their Chinese partners is planned shortly.
The team have just launched a website documenting their on-going research at a recent 2-day workshop hosted at RGU and co-funded by the AHRC and The Scottish Informatics & Computer Science Alliance (SICSA). It brought together academics across architecture, computing and the creative industries across Scotland together with textile businesses and organisations including Harris Tweed Hebrides, Montrose Rope & Sail and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland to explore the opportunities and research and industrial challenges that exist in the areas of fashion/textiles and technology with the overall aim of creating a multidisciplinary team for building a consortium for a larger project later this year.
The Scottish Textiles Showcase is now open at the Tron Kirk, Royal Mile Edinburgh, offering a curated selection of Scottish textile accessories.
The retail store has been launched to celebrate the craftsmanship skills of the talented makers around the country and develop textiles tourism to rural mills across Scotland.
The shop is open daily from 10am until 7pm.
Find out more here
Andrew Elliot throws
Textile Scotland members, now part of UKFT, are invited to Mapping Paisley’s Textile Trade which runs until Saturday 6th July in Paisley.
The exhibition of woven textiles, made by professional weavers Heather Shields and Shielagh Tacey and the participants of their workshops, marks the conclusion of their two-year part time residency with Sma’ Shot Cottages.
The official launch will be held on Friday 28th June from 6-8pm at Made in Paisley, 69 High Street, Paisley, PA1 2AY.
All events are free but booking is advised as places are limited. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Textile Scotland members can now benefit from a wide range of HR and employment support through being part of UKFT.
UKFT’s dedicated employment and HR experts provide assistance, advice and support to companies of all sizes, from small businesses to large retailers.
With years of employment relations experience in the fashion and textile industry at local and national level, UKFT can provide guidance on a range of issues including:
UKFT has considerable experience with regards to advising members on:
Members are able to access the following UKFT employment guides:
UKFT also provides its members with a series of draft policies to help ensure companies keep up to date with HR issues. UKFT draft policies are available on:
If you find yourself facing an Employment Tribunal, UKFT offers a special service to members. Our employment specialist will assist with any aspect of the procedure, including preparing initial documentation, taking witness statements and representation at the Tribunal. This service is chargeable in addition to your membership fee.
UKFT will also help members to write their own Company Handbook, geared specifically to their own circumstances and covering all the areas they deem important.
Historically, the industry has relied heavily on recruiting unpaid interns. However, the legal position concerning interns has now changed. It is the view of HMRC that an intern, over the age of 21, must be paid at least the national living wage.
It is therefore essential that if you are offering internships, you are aware of your legal obligations to your interns. UKFT’s sister organisation the British Fashion Council has produced a best practice guide on employing interns.
The National Agreement between UKFT and GMB and the sister one between UKFT and Community have been the cornerstone of industrial relations harmony in the industry for the best part of 100 years.
The Agreements are widely used also in non-unionised companies and also figure prominently in individual contracts of employment and statements of terms and conditions.
The HR and Employment service is available to non UKFT and Textile Scotland members on a fee basis. Additional fees may apply for Textile Scotland members subject to membership level.
Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Textile Scotland members can now access the wealth of export experience available as part of the wider UKFT network. The UKFT export team can help you develop an export strategy, advise on which markets to enter, the right route to market and how present your collection in the best way to buyers.
As part of our export activities UKFT administers the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) export grant scheme. Grants are available at the following upcoming shows.
Our Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) is currently underway and UKFT will be off to Pitti Uomo in Florence next week with a record number of grant-supported UK menswear brands. The full programme can be viewed here and many events are now waiting list-only. There is still limited availability for:
Please contact Noleen.firstname.lastname@example.org for details
UKFT has a wealth of experience leading new and established fashion and textile exporters on their journey to international success. With support from the Department for International Trade (DIT), UKFT takes around 700 brands and companies to approximately 40 overseas tradeshows and showrooms each year, covering menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, lingerie, footwear, swimwear and accessories, plus home textiles, technical textiles and apparel textiles.
SEE US AT XPONORTH: Paul Alger UKFT’s director of international business and Adam Mansell CEO will be at XpoNorth talking about export opportunities for Scottish companies.
Leigh Bagley, a contemporary textile and pattern designer, has completed major arts project stretching across two buildings at the Stirling Health and Care Village – the GP and Minor Injuries Centre and the Bellfield Rehabilitation Centre.
Bagley, a member of Textile Scotland (now part of UKFT), developed a broad canvas including art walls, a suite of prints and additional 3D works, all with a focus on emotional health and wellbeing.
The first stage of the project involved the design and installation of nineteen new art walls and three large scale murals in the Bellfield Centre. The high impact and decorative interiors have been designed to evoke freshness, wellness and familiarity to the corridors, giving a sense of emotional comfort through colour. During the design process Bagley aimed to create environments that are both uplifting and soothing, which in turn aid in decreasing frustration and boredom in people with dementia.
For the second strand of the project, Bagley curated a contemporary collection of Limited Edition prints housed within the Healthcare village buildings. The artworks complement the aesthetic narrative of the mural and art wall spaces creating a visual dialogue as patients, staff and visitors navigate the interior. The artworks feature a variety of top artists and print designers including Scott Campbell, Diane Bresson, Rory Strudwick, Kitty McCall, Simon C Page, Ryan Hughes, Kevin Cleary, Hey Studio and many more.
A graduate of the renowned Royal College of Art in London, Bagley set up his textiles design studio in 2012 retailing as Limited Edition artwork.
“Through a highly contemporary approach I hope I have demonstrated how pattern, print and colour can be transformative and uplifting for both patients and visitors, challenging traditional approaches to art for public healthcare buildings,” he said. “I directly take influence from everyday surroundings and a love of modernist and abstract aesthetics.
Leigh is also a lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art, imparting his love of pattern and colour which enables him to share his knowledge for the benefit of future designers and makers.
Textile Scotland attended the official opening of The Centre of Excellence in Textiles in Hawick earlier this month, with Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy. The centre, based in Hawick High School, has been developed to help address business critical skills issues in the textiles and knitwear sector in the Scottish Borders.
The first trainees are learning about hand finishing and machine skills to support skills demand for local textiles businesses. The growth and capacity of businesses has been curtailed by access to a skilled workforce as demand for Scottish Textiles worldwide increases.
The project is supported by a £610,000 government grant and championed by Skills Development Scotland. By working closely, the project partners and industry representatives want to ensure that the training provided through the Centre of Excellence is absolutely focused on delivering what the businesses need and provide apprenticeship opportunities to help people get long term employment within this growing sector.
Clive Brown, sales director of Hawick-based Barrie Knitwear, which is supporting and assisting training alongside Johnstons of Elgin, said: “The industry as a whole in the Scottish Borders is right behind this project, which will help provide school leavers and the unemployed with the basic skills across a range of areas to help them get jobs in the sector, as well as support existing employees with developing their skills further, including in leadership and management.
“Knitwear and textiles have moved on significantly in recent years and many of the businesses in the Scottish Borders are growing and need to bring new people into the industry. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to take the first step towards an exciting new career.”
Following the official opening, Fergus Ewing had a closed meeting with textile industry heads, Textile Scotland and Scottish Enterprise to hear their global aspirations and address their concerns for the textile sector.
Textile Scotland, part of UKFT, is currently developing a Scottish manufacturing skills strategy to support the wider textile industry in achieving their skilled workforce ambitions.
For more, and ongoing news regarding our work in skills please see here.
Two Scottish textile manufacturers have won prestigious business awards in the same week, underlining the value of small-scale textiles businesses to the Scottish economy.
Digital fabric printer BeFab Be Creative won Scottish Small Business of the year at the Scottish SME Business Awards, while small batch producer Kalopsia Collective won Scottish Manufacturer of the year at the Business Insider Made in Scotland Awards.
At the heart of their business models, both BeFab Be Creative and Kalopsia, long-time collaborators, have small batch production, accessible manufacturing and the circular economy which promotes ethical and sustainable manufacturing process to help reduce waste.
Run by sisters Solli and Zoë Brodie (pictured above), BeFab Be Creative offers high-end digital fabric printing with minimums of just 50cm onto silk, British woven linen, and cotton for both custom printing as well as a range of 160 fabric designs from 12 talented British designers. The studio serves clients including Screen Scotland, The National Galleries, and Zandra Rhodes, as well as having printed suit linings for the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and the Phelps twins, of Harry Potter fame. It was established in 2012 with the intention of making high-end digital fabric printing as accessible for small designer-makers and interior designers as it is for larger brands.
Kalopsia Collective, which was also nominated for a number of other awards this year including Commercial business of the year and the Social Entrepreneur Award, offer white label, batch accessories and apparel manufacturing service “assemble” which makes ordering textiles products easier for their clients while reducing environmental impact. Kalopsia’s Clients include the V&A Dundee, Bauhaus, Creative Scotland and Kitty MacCall. Kalopsia Collective's Nina Falk and Adam Robertson are pictured at the the Made in Scotland awards below.
“Our ambition is to create for longevity, not landfill,” said director Solii Brodie, BeFab Be Creative. “We chose to work with reactive digital printing when we set up BeFab, as this has the best rub and light fastness on natural fabrics, which is important to us as we aim to help our designers create heirloom pieces, products and garments which will stand the test of time.
“At BeFab we aspire to put the same care an attention into the printing of our designers’ work, as they do into the creation of it. We work hard to make sure that every designer or artist we work with feels valued, whatever size their order is.”
Kalopsia Collective managing director Adam Robertson added: “Our aim is to raise awareness of ethical and sustainable textiles, including recycling all fabric cuttings and work closely with designers to ensure they are using products with the minimum environmental impact which our innovative ‘Assemble’ model has allowed us to do.”
Textile Scotland attended the National Economic Forum earlier this month to hear the Scottish government’s ambitions for Scottish exports, as part of plans to redevelop the association’s export strategy.
Exports were identified as a key priority for Textile Scotland, when it became part of UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) at the start of this year. The association is now starting to develop its strategy in light of the Scottish government’s ambitions for exporting from Scotland.
Launching the export plan in Edinburgh on 1st May, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scottish economy growth rate has overtaken the UK.
“The target that we have adopted of exports accounting for 25% of our GDP in 10 years' time is both important and also ambitious,” she said.
“It would also be a very beneficial change. It would add more than 2% to the size of our economy and create in the region of 17,000 jobs.
“As a result of that, it would increase annual tax take – the money we can invest in public services and infrastructure – by an estimated £500 million a year.”
The proposals include around £20m of additional funding and support made available over the next three years. The additional fund would “target that support much more effectively than arguably we have before”, she said. It would be used to expand Scotland's international presence, trebling the number of trade envoys from four to 12 and helping companies grow existing exports and enter new markets.
Speaking to business delegates, she added: “All of us can play our part in helping our existing exporters to become even more successful and in encouraging new success stories to come into being.
“By doing so, we can ensure that internationalisation is a success story for Scotland's future as well as something that we continue to be proud of about Scotland's past and our heritage.”
Responding to the announcement, CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: "Scotland has a proud exporting history yet we haven't kept pace with the progress made by other similar sized countries.
"To achieve the ambitious aim of boosting Scottish exports to 25% of our GDP by 2029, we need to ensure that existing resources are used as effectively as possible and to maintain a strong partnership between business, government and other stakeholders.”
Following recent consultation with textile industry leaders it was found the sector has aspirations for Scottish textiles to become synonymous with luxury, quality and innovation worldwide.
In response to this consultation and the launch of ‘A Trading Nation,’ Textiles Scotland, part of UKFT, is creating an ambitious plan to support the Scottish textile industry, enabling the sector to achieve its goals in exporting to the world.
Companies involved in the development include Johnstons of Elgin, Alex Begg, BeYonder, Deryck Walker, the Incorporation of Edinburgh Tailors, Savile Row Bespoke, Creative Scotland, Edinburgh College, Glasgow Clyde College and Heriot Watt University.
Most of the skills are carried out by hand in order to produce a garment that fits precisely to a customer’s requirements. Bespoke tailors and cutters have practical skills in bespoke garment manufacture and pattern construction.
This SVQ is based on the latest National Occupational Standards for Bespoke Cutting & Tailoring (compiled by employers) and is comprised of a mandatory Health and Safety unit supported by industry specific artisan hand craft skills and knowledge with a choice of specialising in either tailoring or cutting as a career path.
“The skills involved in bespoke tailoring cover a wide area of expertise that includes craft, technical, creative and design,” said UKFT skills and training manager John West.
“These skills are vital for the bespoke tailoring industry in Scotland and ultimately have to be employed with great precision, to high standards of excellence and within realistic time constraints. We are delighted that this means training centres in Scotland can now look to be accredited for delivery ready to meet demand from both industry and candidates alike.”
For more information about fashion and textile apprenticeships see here or contact email@example.com.
Read more about the SVQ in Bespoke Cutting and Tailoring at SCQF level 6 here.
Copyright UK Fashion & Textile Scotland Limited © 2019. Registered office: c/o Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, 12-13 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH2 2AF. Registration Number: SC616858