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Fashion businesses offered support to overcome sustainability challenges

As consumer pressure grows for fashion brands to become more sustainable, clothing businesses in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are being offered support to lessen the environmental impact of their products through a new programme run by Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University.

Women looking at clothes samples and drawing
The Sustainable Fashion Accelerator will offer SMEs technical and commercial advice, along with support such as expert mentoring and opportunities for networking

The Big House Sustainable Fashion Accelerator (SFA) programme will help small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) overcome the difficult technical and commercial challenges of adopting a sustainable strategy.

For many, the changes needed can be challenging, such as using different materials and manufacturing, dyeing and finishing techniques; reducing waste and transport; making products that are easier to recycle; and adopting leading edge technologies.

Lynn Oxborrow, Big House programme lead and Associate Professor in Small Business and Supply Chain Management at Nottingham Business School, said: “Ultimately the most effective way to reduce fashion’s environmental footprint is to make and sell less and provide items that consumers want to keep in use for longer – but commercially, this goes against the grain.

“Reducing the social impact of clothing could involve choosing responsible suppliers; investing in wages, training, working conditions and other benefits; and improving transparency across the supply chain. This can increase costs and reduce the flexibility that enables fashion to be fast and responsive.”

The SFA programme is designed to help SMEs to design and sell more sustainable fashion by sharing technical knowledge and expertise, promoting peer learning and innovative collaborations, and providing a test bed for SMEs in D2N2 to overcome some of the challenges they face.

Up to ten businesses will be supported in 2021 / 22 with access to a workshop programme on identified common themes, such as alternative materials or ways to market sustainable fashion, expert mentoring, networking and pitching opportunities with potential advisors, clients or investors. Participants will also be offered grants and access to student expertise and consultancy projects.

The SFA will launch with an event on Thursday 2 December from9.30 to 12.30 with a keynote presentation from sustainable fashion expert, Charlotte Turner. Charlotte has supported international brands, retailers and manufacturers to set up and run responsible businesses with long-term sustainability strategies, create and sell high quality products and services in the most socially just and environmental ways possible, and communicate authentically about sustainability.

Through roles including head of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles at leading consultancy Eco-Age, and as a British Fashion Council mentor, she has supported numerous start-ups, SMEs and large-scale global brands, retailers and manufacturers to understand, manage and improve their social and environmental performance through training, developing and implementing long-term sustainability strategies, action plans and tools, and introducing alternative materials and processes to supply chains. She has then guided clients to transparently communicate these strategies and achievements with diverse audiences across multiple media platforms.

The online event will be fully interactive, with panel discussions, Q and A sessions and opportunities to get involved.

Dr Oxborrow added: “Small and new fashion businesses may lack the resources and impetus to change the whole supply chain, but they can be the source of amazing innovations that can lead to positive changes. But given the challenges they face, SMEs need a helping hand to enable them to find ways to make fashion more sustainable. The Sustainable Fashion Accelerator aims to provide that.”

The SFA builds on NTU’s active research in the area of sustainable fashion, including the Durability Dozen and clothing longevity research.

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  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.

    To be eligible for the programme, SFA participants may be:

    1. SMEs that are trading and ready to scale, with a developed product with the ambition and potential for significant growth through expanding their market horizons.
    2. SMEs that are pre-revenue but have at least one person working on the business and a product/ service that is close to full development but needs some help to launch onto the market.
    3. Established SMEs that wish to pivot to enhance their sustainable fashion offer.

    The Big House

    The Big House programme helps creative and digital SMEs and potential entrepreneurs and start-ups in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to establish, grow and create new jobs in the region, as well as bring new products and services to market. The project is delivered through a consortium of business support organisations: The Creative Quarter Company, Derby QUAD, Derby Theatre, NBV Enterprise Solutions Ltd, New Art Exchange, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Derby. The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It has been operating since early 2017 and will continue until September 2022.

    About Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Business School (NBS) at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is a world leader in experiential learning and personalisation of business, management and economics education and research, combining academic excellence with positive impact on people, business and society.  NBS has an unrivalled level of engagement with business, public and voluntary organisations. With 7,000 students, NBS is also one of UK’s largest business schools.

    NBS is a Quadruple+ accredited by EQUIS, AACSB, SBC and EFMD Programme level Accreditation which are internationally recognised hallmarks of excellence and quality for business education and engagement with business. The School is one of leading global 35 business schools recognised as a PRME Champion and held up as an exemplar by the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME).

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

Published on 19 November 2021
  • Category: Business