Leeds Fashion Futures - RSA

Leeds Fashion Futures: Regenerating fashion from place

Today, fashion is one of the world’s most damaging industries. What if instead of extracting from people and place, the system that clothes us had the purpose of creating a thriving and flourishing world? We think this future can only come about if we work with the potential of our places, communities and landscapes to help shape it.

Through the Leeds Fashion Futures project, we worked with Zero Waste Leeds and local citizens, authorities, civil society and businesses to explore how Leeds, a city with a deep history of pioneering innovations in fashion and textiles, could continue this pattern and be a leading force for change towards a more regenerative future for clothing.

This project helped us to shape our Regenerative Futures programme and continue to explore the role of place in changing the fashion system.

Thanks to JJ Charitable Trust for supporting this work, to Zero Waste Leeds and all the Leeds Fashion Future participants.

Special thanks to Peg Alexander for producing the podcast ‘Can Leeds change the future of fashion again?'

Fashion is an important sector for the city. I don’t want creatives to go to the university and then leave, but to stay, and for local people to see the opportunities to make a living here and build a strong local economy. Sustainability is key and we could do a lot here by bringing together our skills and innovation. We know fashion is important but we struggle to really bring everyone together, so this work is important to help that.

Leeds Economic Development policymaker


A city of practical innovation

Leeds is a pioneering city for fashion and textiles. From its origins and growth in the wool trade to its industrial innovations and its present place as a seat of research, it has a history of being at the cutting edge.

Participants explain how Leeds has been shaped by fashion and how the fashion industry as we know it has been shaped by Leeds:


Ambitious for a fair and flourishing future

Seeds of a future textile and fashion system are growing in the city today. From heritage manufacturers who are pioneering circular economy practices to community groups and local designers who are making, repairing and cycling clothing locally.

Peg Alexander talks to Leodensians shaping fashion and textiles in the city today:


Realising its potential to lead change in clothing

With its history of innovation and its energy for change today, Leeds could play an important role in shaping a new future for clothing, where local action is key for enabling systemic transformation. But local infrastructure, governance and resources are needed to realise this potential.

Citizens envision what role Leeds could play in creating a regenerative future for fashion:

It’s great to be involved in this and finally see what’s happening in Leeds because it’s hard sometimes to be connected to the right people and see what else is out there. We need more of this to help get the knowledge out there.

Local Leeds designer

Funders and partners

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Regenerative Futures

We believe in a future where humans thrive as part of the Earth’s ecology. Find out more about our Regenerative Futures programme.