Rethinking Fashion Design Entrepreneurship: Fostering Sustainable Practices

Commission by Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Researchers from CEEDR, as part of a cross-university research consortium, have won a grant of close to £450K from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to investigate the role of creative entrepreneurship and design in micro and small fashion enterprises (MSEs) as a potential driver for a more sustainable fashion industry.

The research will analyse existing and novel business models and practices in the fashion sector that foster a balance between environmental, social, cultural and economic considerations. The project aims to identify barriers and points of intervention in order to develop alternative business support mechanisms for sustainability to inform fashion businesses at both small and larger scales.

The academic team is drawn from three leading research centres and universities, whose complementary academic expertise will provide a novel cross-disciplinary approach to research in fashion innovation and sustainable prosperity. Led by London College of Fashion at University of the Arts London (UAL), the project is a collaboration between UAL's Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), Middlesex University's Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR) and the Open University's Department of Design, and it will build on previous work carried out by LCF’s AHRC-funded FIRE project.

The multi-disciplinary research team will work directly with a range of design-led fashion enterprises as co-producers of the research, and will explore sustainability as a creative endeavour, examining four key areas: design and operations; business networks and ecosystems; working practices; entrepreneurship and business models. Insights and knowledge generated from the project will be utilised to establish and support new sustainable models of business development, repositioning designer fashion MSEs as major contributors to the UK's creative and sustainable economy, and ultimately informing future UK policy for the creative industries.

The CEEDR team working on the project will consist of Prof Fergus Lyon, Dr Ian Vickers, Dr Andrea Werner and Dr Geraldine Brennan.