Octobers NCTN event covered some serious topics, but gave us all cause to be positive

We were delighted to welcome members of the Northern Clothing and Textiles Network to PROTO in Gateshead on the 25th October for another network event. This time we were joined by Chris McCann of Resilient World, Professor Parik Goswami of Huddersfield University, and Adam Mansell of UKFT.

Chris, who has over twenty years experience managing social and environmental programmes for companies including Burberry, Littlewoods, GUS, and Wal-Mart, and has been involved in the development of the Global Social Compliance Programme, shared his thoughts on sustainability and the circular economy, and the challenges facing businesses as they try to balance sustainability and profitability.

He talked about the huge increase in energy usage, and the associated risks to supply chains, climate change, the growth in unethical labour, and population growth. And the effects all of these trends are having on industry and society in general.

He then focused on how decision makers, who often choose to ignore these looming trends, can be influenced,  through increased media attention, reporting by activist groups, scrutiny by stakeholders and the value of data in highlighting the real issues.

We then heard from Parik Goswami who is Director of the Technical Textiles Research Centre at Huddersfield University. Parik discussed the role of chemical functionalisation in technical textile innovation, and how chemical functionalisation can be used to achieve sustainability in textile manufacturing, and shared his thoughts on some contemporary challenges that the textile industry is facing.

He talked abut the role that cellulose and other polysaccharides could play in creating genuinely sustainable polymer fibres and textiles, created from plant based sources, and that have applications as wide ranging as breathable membranes and wound dressings. The slides from Parik’s talk are available HERE

Finally Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT gave a rather sobering but necessary overview of the impact that Brexit will have on the sector, and the steps that we need to take to reduce this impact. He has been travelling the country providing practical advice and support for UK fashion and textile businesses in the lead up to the exit from the EU, to outline the actions that companies should be taking to minimise disruption.

He talked about import and export tariffs, including those that apply to product samples, VAT, documentation including labelling, the various standards and legal implications, and issues relating to IP. Adams slides which cpver all this and mush moe are available HERE

While this was a rather serious way to end the event, it didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm for the networking that took place afterwards, or the excitement that was evident after hearing about the issues, challenges, but also possible solutions to the various trends facing the industry.

We’ll be meeting again on the 20th March 2020, and will have another line-up of fabulous speakers, so keep an eye on the website, the twitter feed and your inbox for details.