RGU academics receive £1.3m grant to preserve traditional fashion

A multi-disciplinary research team from Robert Gordon University (RGU) are working with Shanghai academics and industry partners in Scotland to educate consumers about the sustainability, craftmanship, heritage and value of traditional fashion and textile products.

The team of academics, from RGU’s Computing, Art and Creative and Cultural Business schools, have been awarded £1.3m (£499,377 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council plus £844,349 matched funding resources from all partners) for the project titled ‘Augmented Fashion: Immersive Interactions for Sustainable Heritage in Fashion and Textiles’.

Led by Dr Yang Jiang, of RGU’s School of Computing Science and Digital Media, and working with Shanghai academics and industry partners, as well as partners in the Highlands and Islands including Orkney, Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and Glasgow, the project will explore how immersive technologies could be used to preserve and promote the history and heritage of traditional fashion and textile products, while educating fashion and clothing consumers.

It brings together a multi-disciplinary RGU research team: Dr Yang Jiang as the lead investigator; Karen Cross, course Leader for fashion management at the School of Creative and Cultural Business; Josie Steed, design researcher in sustainability and knowledge exchange at Gray’s School of Art; together with Professor Rong Zheng from Donghua University and Shanghai Promotion Centre for City of Fashion, as well as UK and Chinese creative businesses and organisations within fashion and textiles including the world-renowned Harris Tweed Hebrides brand and creative textile design businesses Kirsteen Stewart in Orkney, Niela Nell Kalra in Shetland and Soluis, an immersive technology company based in Glasgow.

Dr Jiang said: “Our aim is to use modern, immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) to preserve the history and heritage of traditional fashion and textile products.

“Fashion has embraced computer technology, with online sales continuing to grow and fashion film increasingly being used to market creative designs. This presents an opportunity to use immersive technology to educate and shape an alternative and sustainable future for the design, production and use of traditional textiles.”

Karen added: “This project is an exciting opportunity to support the traditional Scottish quality textile economy, by highlighting the heritage, craftsmanship and sustainable ethos of small-scale, artisan production. Immersive technologies can help to capture and share the rich detail and value of these products in an engaging and exciting way, bringing them to new audiences and markets across the globe.”

Speaking on traditional textiles, clothing and issues around sustainability, Josie comments: “China and the UK both have long histories and cultural traditions related to textiles and clothing. Scotland’s tradition of tweed and tartan, cashmere and woollens continues to survive today, largely through SMEs producing luxury products. A parallel can be drawn with China’s rich history of cultivating and producing beautiful silk products such as the traditional dresses: Qi Pao, Han Fu and Song Jin, and to their position as one of the world’s largest textile and clothing producers.

As we move into a new era for fashion and textile production post Covid-19, this project will focus on the ethical, sustainability and environmental issues exploring how traditional craft skills from both countries can impact on developing new models of production, our global supply chains and ultimately on consumer behaviour.”

To find out more about the project, please visit: https://augmentedfashion.co.uk/

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