Addressing a crowd of government and trade officials and industry figures including Anya Hindmarch, Holli Rogers, Jonathan Akeroyd and Stephen Jones, Prime Minister Boris Johnson not only pledged 80 million pounds in green funding for fashion, he also said the check was on the way.
While his statement may have made a few government aides break out in a sweat, the BFC said the money has been a long time coming and caps years of talks with British officials.
The BFC will use the funding to set up a 10-year Fashion Industry Sustainable Change Program. The aim is to create a “world-leading, circular fashion ecosystem with innovation and creativity front and center.”
The Sustainable Change Program will include the first, industry-led Center of Excellence, which will be housed within the BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion.
The Center of Excellence will convene industry leaders such as designers, retailers, manufacturers, academics and trade organizations including U.K. Fashion and Textiles and the British Retail Consortium.
The BFC said the program, which will cost around 80 million pounds, aims to deliver local “ecosystems” focused on recycling, innovation and new, circular business models.
“Imagine, 10 years from now, a city like Leeds retaining its role as a key part of the fashion and textiles industry and [setting] an example of a circular city with reprocessing plants, and energized high streets with takeback schemes where product is broken down, re-spun and made to create new fabrics,” said Stephanie Phair, BFC chair.
She said Leeds could be a city “with an inclusive and diverse workforce, with new skills and learning opportunities. This isn’t a pipe dream — elements of this are already being seen around the world — we can bring this expertise together and make it a reality for the U.K.,” Phair added.
She also noted that, to date, the British fashion industry has not relied on government intervention, but that fashion industry and the government now need to work together to tackle climate change.
Underscoring the urgency of the project, Phair said 4 billion items of clothing were purchased in the U.K. alone in 2019, with approximately 80 billion globally. She said at least 60 percent will never be recycled.
“The fashion industry is a big part of the problem, so we must be a big part of the solution. We need to address how we design, source, produce, ship, market product, shop and deal with waste that currently goes to landfill,” Phair said.
Johnson, who narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament earlier this week, and whose career has been tarnished by allegations of corruption and rule-breaking during lockdown, said that fashion is a big contributor to the economy and to “Brand Britain.”
“I am delighted to support this brilliant industry as it moves forward with a 10-year program bringing opportunities across the U.K. to meet our Government Climate Action Plan of environmental and societal change,” he told the crowd which also included his wife Carrie and their two small children, Wilf and Romy.