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NTU’s IFFTI conference reimagines the established worlds of fashion and textiles – bringing forward a new era in fashion

Between 5-8 April 2022, NTU hosted the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI 2022) conference, which saw around 70 fashion educators and researchers attend from all corners of the globe.

IFFTI conference
NTU Professor Anthony Kent speaking at the IFFTI Conference

Responding to changing times, the conference took place in a hybrid format with around 65 people tuning in virtually. The central theme of the conference was ‘Fashion Re-imagined', which aims to re-interpret and re-wire an unsustainable fashion system through new ways of working, thinking and practicing. The conference explored how inclusive design can be approached, how to tackle social responsibility and how new technologies can be used to reimagine a new future for fashion.

IFFTI currently represents a global network of 59 international Fashion and Textile institutions from 28 countries. As an established member, Nottingham Trent University is proud to associate with a Foundation committed to promoting diversity, knowledge sharing and intercultural understanding. Through an inclusive approach, IFFTI shapes, develops and promotes future fashion and textile programmes and research practices.

The first day of the conference saw delegates join forces to discuss fashion research and education. The discussions were followed by numerous poster presentations and a tour of the Nottingham School of Art & Design, before discussing developments in fashion pedagogy. The annual IFFTI general meeting took place thereafter, which was then followed by two different workshops addressing fashion education and fashion research. Day one came to a close with a drinks reception at Nottingham Contemporary.

On day two, attendees were welcomed by Anthony Kent, Professor of Fashion Marketing at NTU, and Michael Marsden, Dean of the Nottingham School of Art & Design. Next up were keynote speakers Jack Richardson, Product Leader at Canterbury New Zealand, and Katie Greenyer, Creative Director of Pentland Brands. Attendees were then treated to a fully stacked schedule of paper presentations and discussions on topics ranging from remote teaching and music videos, to using discarded garments in knitwear design and education, and soft masculine menswear. Keynote speaker Grace Wales-Bonner, award-winning British designer, presented her work on the use of hybrid European and Afro-Atlantic approaches.

More paper presentations and discussions followed, covering topics such as the structure of the Ghana fashion industry, digital knitting, and the Westminster Menswear Archive. The day ended with a discussion about African fashion delivered by Akosua Amankwah, Alberta St. John-James from KNUST Kumasi, Ghana, and Anne Pierson Smith from NTU, and a tour of the NTU archives and e-textiles lab, and finally with a conference dinner at Nottingham Castle.

Day three kicked off with an open forum and a keynote address by Tim Clarke and Jane Middleton-Smith from John Smedley Ltd, which was followed by more paper presentations and discussions. Tom Waller from Adidas and Professor Tilak Dias from the Advanced Textiles Research Group at NTU were the keynote speakers later in the day, before attendees took part in more paper presentations. The day finished with a student showcase of fashion and knitwear garments, together with a summary and Q&A. The conference committee also distributed IFFTI awards and certificates for best presentations.

IFFTI Conference 2
IFFTI Conference Day 2

For many people attending, this was their very first in-person conference since the pandemic. It became apparent that many had missed sharing a physical space with other fashion researchers and academics, and they all seemed very excited to get together to share ideas and foster new collaborations.

Jan Tepe, a Doctoral Researcher in Fashion Design at the University of Borås in Sweden, who also received two awards at the conference, commented on his experience:

"It is really nice to be at conferences like this one where I can engage with other researchers and have the chance to share my knowledge and my research. I enjoyed the conference a lot, it is my first big conference post-Covid, and it’s been great. It’s fantastic to meet people in person and it’s been well organised. It’s exciting to hear about the research of others, sharing knowledge and ideas, and I have potential future collaborations on the horizon thanks to this event which is fantastic. There have been plenty of different presentations at the conference that have inspired me, and it has been interesting to see how different ideas are contributing to the same situation, allowing for different angles to emerge on how we can continue from here on.”

Noël Palomo-Lovinski, Associate Director and Professor at Kent State University School of Fashion in Ohio, USA, and Executive Board Member of IFFTI, said:

“The conference has been great. It’s always nice to come to IFFTI conferences. I think in general they are always very open and friendly, there’s a lot of sharing of ideas which I really like. It’s a good continuation of community and relationships, getting to speak to people you haven’t seen in a while. I really enjoyed the keynote speech by Tom Waller from Adidas and Tilak Dias from NTU - he was fascinating - and the one about African fashion too. I think it’s interesting to hear the very different perspectives on everything from teaching to sustainability and how you approach those things. That’s what you come to a conference for.”

Professor Sushil Raturi, from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Mumbai, India, commented:

“Normally, when we go to any conferences, we find that the involvement is very formal – there is not too much interaction between the panelists and the participants, so there is a boundary. But that boundary, I have not seen here. It has been so easy to interact with the panel members and the moderators, and all the other IFFTI members. The environment means you are free to interact with anybody, and that’s been the best part.

Professor Raturi added: “The type and variety of papers that we’ve seen has been great – I learned about the new concept of protest clothing, and how the concept of unisex clothing is very similar in the European market, the US and the Asian market. In terms of the involvement; super. In terms of the content of the presentations; super. In terms of the wide variety of topics; it was excellent, so overall I feel delighted, and I look forward to coming back to NTU again for any other conferences.”

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NTU’s IFFTI conference reimagines the established worlds of fashion and textiles – bringing forward a new era in fashion

Published on 11 April 2022
  • Category: Research; School of Art & Design

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