LONDON — Burberry is strengthening its ties with the Royal College of Art with the development of the Burberry Materials Futures Group, a research initiative between the luxury label and the London-based university that will focus on innovation and sustainability.
Some of the main aims of the research center will include inventing new sustainable materials, reducing waste or looking at ways the industry can advance manufacturing and transform the consumer experience.
The group will be supported by a 3-million-pound grant awarded to the RCA by Burberry, 750,000 pounds of which will go toward expanding the existing Burberry design scholarship scheme. The company said this is the first of a series of grants that will be revealed throughout the year.
The group will begin as a virtual hub and move to a physical space by 2020, following the opening of the RCA’s new building in Battersea, designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
Dr. Paul Thompson, rector of the Royal College of Art, said the project is aligned with the institution’s vision of incorporating materials science into its research and teaching.
The initiative is also in line with the three goals outlined in Burberry’s new responsibility agenda: to support one million people in the communities that sustain the company’s business and the wider luxury industry; ensure all Burberry products have at least one element that promotes positive change, and create an approach on how to revalue waste from luxury goods production in order to become carbon neutral.
The company aims to tackle the goals in its agenda over the next five years.
“The group will cover a broad scope of work, from researching and developing more innovative sustainable materials to designing new manufacturing methods, as well as nurturing and supporting even more British-trained design talent,” said Christoper Bailey, the brand’s chief creative and chief executive officer , who is an alumnus of the RCA. “This partnership also reflects Burberry’s heritage. The company’s founder, Thomas Burberry, was himself a material innovator. He invented the breathable, water-resistant and hard-wearing gabardine fabric in 1879 that is still the cornerstone of our brand today.”