EIT Climate-KIC joins circular textiles and fashion initiative  

On 3 March 2022, EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Culture & Creativity and EIT Manufacturing kicked off a collaboration to set an EIT Innovation Agenda for Circular Textiles and Fashion. The aim of this new partnership is to share experiences of European textile and fashion sectors and advocate for the transition to more circular and sustainable models.

The first EIT Innovation Agenda for Circular Textiles and Fashion workshop was held on 3 March, at the International Centre for Sustainable Textiles of RWTH Aachen University, in Germany. Member of the European Parliament Dr Christian Ehler participated in the kick-off along with the representatives of 20 different European expert organisations, including businesses, research centres, universities and associations. They discussed shared challenges and opportunities of European textile and fashion sectors, and how to advocate for improved innovation funding mechanisms supporting transition pathways to circular models, and sustainable fashion production and consumptions patterns.  

The event was co-organised by EIT Culture & Creativity, EIT Manufacturing and EIT Climate KIC, three of the nine Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs) supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

“EIT Culture & Creativity is taking the lead in this initiative. Fashion is one of the largest creative sectors and employers in Europe. Fashion starts with design –  the lifecycle and environmental impact of any product is determined at this very early stage. At the end of the chain, there is consumption. Other CCSI [cultural and creative sectors and industries] subsectors can actively contribute to more sustainable consumer behaviour. So we are taking this to heart for the benefit of European fashion companies, the consumers and the planet”, said Bernd Fesel, interim CEO of EIT Culture & Creativity. 

Aligned with EIT KIC models, the EIT innovation Agenda for Circular Textile and Fashion will explore synergies in relation to innovations, training, and investments to accelerate its goals. The group supports the setting up of large demonstrators across Europe to test, validate and facilitate industrial uptake and replication as a critical step to meet circularity goals.

“The textile industry – and that refers to fashion as well as to industrial and technical textiles – is an important sector in the European manufacturing industry, but many production steps have been outsourced from Europe. This Innovation Agenda shall play a role in getting production back to Europe. At the same time, digital technologies such as AR/VR can help producing less textiles, for example in a virtual showroom, in which people can see themselves in the clothes they want to shop. This could support the goal that less textiles are produced which go to the skip unused,” said Klaus Beetz, CEO EIT Manufacturing. 

All three KICs are committed to explore joint programmes that incentivise innovation in the fashion and textile industries through cross-fertilisation of innovators, talent, and businesses along the value chain. 

“To change the industry, as well as consumer behaviour and expectations, we need systemic efforts that leverage design, media and creative arts just as much as material and digital technologies. Through this unique partnership of KICs, we are taking an integrated approach that has the potential to act as a blueprint for other complex and hard-to-abate sectors.” said Dr Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC.  

The group has established a timeline for delivering the EIT innovation Agenda on Circular Textiles and Fashion during 2023, in support of the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, whereby: “By 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, to a great extent made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. Consumers benefit longer from high quality affordable textiles, fast fashion is out of fashion, and economically profitable re-use and repair services are widely available. In a competitive, resilient and innovative textiles sector, producers take responsibility for their products along the value chain, including when they become waste.” 

Lisa Lang, Policy and EU Affairs Orchestrator at EIT Climate-KIC says: “We welcome the new rise of the creative class with open arms. 85% of a product’s carbon footprint is decided in its design phase. Supporting the designers and makers leads to a catalytic effect. We will get there through collaboration across sectors and industries and this partnership with the EIT Culture & Creativity and EIT Manufacturing is a historic step which will lead to a systemic shift.”


To learn more about this initiative, contact us at media@climate-kic.org

Press-releases you may be interested in
EIT Climate-KIC and partners collaborate with Laud...

On 23 March 2021, EIT Climate-KIC, with the support...

EIT Climate-KIC and partners collaborate with Laudes Foundation to advance Madrid and Milan sustainable urban approach across Europe