ESI Fashion and Textile conference

Delegates discussing ideas at the fashion and textile symposium

Experts explore local sustainable fashion and textile practices

Fashion professionals gathered at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) recently to take part in a specialist symposium - Applying Cornish Wisdom; Localising Sustainable Fashion and Textile Practice.

The conference brought together local businesses from fibre growing, production, apparel manufacture, design and retail as well as educators from both the higher and further education sector in the region.

Delegates heard from Cornish businesses including Seasalt, House of Hemp and the Natural Fibre Company as well as Future Threads and key note speaker, Dr Alison Gwilt, fashion design academic and researcher from Sheffield Hallam University. Discussion and workshop sessions explored present and future aims for a potentially local and sustainable fashion and textiles industry and some of the challenges that such an aspiration faces.

Wedding designer and decorator Helen Markwood who attended the event said: “It’s been a hugely interesting and inspiring day. I found the event of enormous benefit and it was excellent to make some new contacts as well as rekindle my passion for textiles. I hope to follow up some leads with the use of nettle fibre. Most awe inspiring for me was the delegate from the House of Hemp, though the whole day was fantastic.”

The event is part of a collaborative project between the University of Exeter's ESI and Falmouth University and is closely linked to the ESI's Creative Exchange programme, which engages both institutions in enabling trans-disciplinary research between science and the arts.

The Universities are embarking on a collaborative project exploring issues around sustainable fashion and textiles. Falmouth University’s Irene Griffin, (Textile Design, and MA Art and Environment) and the University of Exeter’s Dr Clare Saunders (Environmental Politics) are examining promoting sustainable, local and ethical fashion and textile practice.

The ESI is working with businesses and enterprises across all sectors of the economy in Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond to translate research and expertise into innovative business practices, products and services in order to respond to the challenges of environmental change. It has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£22.9M) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6M), with significant support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Date: 31 October 2013

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