Sustainable Innovations in Performance Clothing

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British Antarctic Survey is hosting an event at its Aurora Innovation Centre in Cambridge to bring together thought leaders from the performance clothing industry, academia, and the entrepreneurial landscape to discuss Sustainable Innovations in Performance Clothing. The focus will be to share best practice, give an honest account of successes and challenges, and highlight which barriers and knowledge gaps need to be addressed to accelerate progress.

Co-organised by British Antarctic Survey, UKRI-NERC HQ, Knowledge Transfer Network and Allia, the event will include:

  • Keynote presentations on current sustainability issues in the performance clothing industry
  • Presentation from academics on the environmental impacts
  • Companies setting out their procurement ‘wish lists’
  • A solutions showcase of innovative technologies and practices
  • Panel discussion: How do we drive the sector forward?
  • Networking opportunities

The way we design, make and discard clothes has a substantial environmental impact. Energy and water intensive manufacturing processes, pollution from dyeing of textiles, and low recycling rates of fabrics are just some of the issues that have resulted in the global clothing industry ranking as the fifth most polluting industry on earth. Research has found that fibres from textiles are one of the most abundant types of microplastic found in our oceans. Synthetic clothing, made from fabrics such as polyester and nylon, shed microfibres throughout the entire clothing life-cycle.

Rising public awareness and an increasing focus on legislation means that the global clothing industry and its traditional ‘take-make-waste’ business model now faces multiple challenges and disruptive transformation.

Performance clothing has strengths and weaknesses as far as sustainability is concerned: Items are usually made to last and are not discarded as quickly as fashion clothing. However, the need to maintain and improve functionality especially for safety and protection above all else can make innovating for environmental sustainability particularly challenging.

This workshop aims to bring together researchers with representatives of sectors including sportswear, outdoors and expedition clothing, Personal Protective Equipment in construction, defense and fire & rescue services to understand the challenges, explore solutions and drive forward innovation in the performance clothing industry.

Attendees are welcome from across all sectors, including industry, policy, environmental organisations, academia and the public.

Please register here.

Our speakers include:

– Yvette Ashby, director-e
– Jane Turnbull, European Outdoor Group Microfiber Consortium
– Mark Taylor, University of Leeds
– Alice Horton, Center for Ecology and Hydrology
– Mark SumnerUniversity of Leeds
Anthony Ralph, Clothing for Construction, On-site Support
– Eluned Lewis, Ministry of Defence
Mike DinnBritish Antarctic Survey
– Paul Cuclas, Humberside Fire & Rescue Service
– Alison Robinson, NERC
– Beatrix Schlarb-RidleyBritish Antarctic Survey

Our session chairs include:
– Charles Ross
– Rob Gillies
– Brian McCarthy
– Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley
– John Twitchen



  1. Now we know! Fashion is the 5th most polluting industry, equal to livestock. Alden Wicker, 9 May 2017.
  2. British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is one of the world’s leading environmental research centres and is responsible for the UK’s national scientific activities in Antarctica. Visit our website,, for more information on what we do and who we are.
  3. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is part of UK Research and Innovation It supports research, training and knowledge transfer activities in the environmental sciences. Visit for more information on what we do and who we are.
  4. Allia is dedicated to helping impact ventures to thrive. Allia supports those that aim to make positive change and address the most pressing global and local challenges: through flexible workspace, networking and community in its Future Business Centres (in Cambridge, London and Peterborough); its Serious Impact programme of business support for entrepreneurs; and social finance solutions to help charities create greater impact. All tenants at the Allia Future Business Centre Cambridge are dedicated to creating positive impact on people, planet and place.
  5. Knowledge Transfer Network is Innovate UK’s network partner and also provides innovation networking for other funders in line with its mission to drive UK growth. To find out how the KTN can help you, read more.