1st January 2019

Planetary systems are under threat. Fashion and clothing products and activities contribute to the destruction of these systems. They also contribute to the increasing disconnection between humans and Earth.

We, the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, recognise that the response of the fashion sector to the intensifying ecological crisis has been – and continues to be – over-simplified, fragmented and obstructed by the growth logic of capitalist business models as they are currently realized and practiced. Further we recognize that uncritical research findings, duplication of research, reduction and misuse of scientific and technical knowledge reinforces and speeds up this over-simplified condition in the fashion industry.

It is our view that concerned fashion and clothing researchers can no longer remain uninvolved or complacent and that as researchers, we need to conduct ourselves in new ways. We call on fashion researchers to unite for concerted action and leadership over the use of scientific and artistic knowledge that is more relevant to and commensurate with the multiple crises we face. For us this action requires both that something fundamental is disrupted and something significantly different is offered. We are committed to examining and accelerating the uptake of diverse ‘other ways’ in the fashion sector.

The Union of Concerned Researchers proposes to:

  1. Create an ‘activist knowledge ecology’, that is, to develop a system of knowledge about fashion sustainability that is concerned with how knowledge is organised and shared as well as the data points themselves, and to direct such a system purposefully towards fostering change;
  2. Advocate for whole systems and paradigm change, beyond current norms and business-as-usual. This includes rejecting overly-cautious economic, legislative and policy frameworks;
  3. Diversify the voices within fashion and sustainability discourse, to reflect multiple perspectives beyond the dominant business approaches presented, including but not limited to the global south and indigenous communities;
  4. Express our determined opposition to ill-advised and destructive fashion projects;
  5. Formulate visions—and corresponding research practices—that allow for the possibility of enacting new relationships between humans and Earth in the context of fashion;
  6. Take a leadership role in debating existing and new ideas and creating action around fashion-sustainability themes, especially in areas where the generation of new knowledge is of actual or potential significance;
  7. Devise means for turning research applications towards the underlying root causes of pressing environmental and social problems, including but not limited to climate change, wealth inequality, biodiversity loss, and plastic pollution;
  8. Organise, when determined desirable and feasible, fashion researchers to translate radical step change into effective political, and other, action;
  9. Review and revise, when deemed necessary, this manifesto.

Sign the manifesto here.

Earth Day Open Letter

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Blogroll / Open Letters

Dear friend and colleague in fashion,

Today, the 22nd of April 2020, is Earth Day. 

We, the Board of the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion (UCRF), write to you as a person, a fellow human and fashion professional and we are approaching you with an appeal to let the first step post COVID-19 to be a solid step for the Earth. We approach you directly, without the filter of a company or organisation. We appeal to you to use this moment to reimagine what life and fashion can be when we plan it to exist within the limits of the Earth and with the health of all humans and co-species as the central purpose.

The Corona pandemic has taught us with brutal honesty how fragile, unstable and unfit for purpose our social and economic systems are. It has revealed that the logic of economic growth is an ideology that is deeply flawed. What good is an economy that breaks down when we just buy the necessities for day-to-day life? Food, shelter and health are surely the foundation of any economic system. The ideology of the growth economy, configured towards profit and extraction of resources, does not sustain life on Earth. 

Today, Earth Day, 22nd April 2020 marks only a few months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the fashion system is shattered. And yet many of us feel that this is a dress rehearsal for a still more existential threat: climate change, which the scientific community gives us less than a decade to address. 

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Submission of Written Questions to the Innovation Forum conference 2020

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Blogroll / Questions to conferences

UCRF supports the Sustainable Apparel and Textiles Conference Innovation Forum 2020 in their intent to have a ‘candid and progressive dialogue’ about sustainability in the fashion sector. 

To that end we offer the following four nuances to the published sessions of the conference: April 24-27 2020.

These questions are intended as a framework to keep the root causes of unsustainability at the forefront of discussions at the conference, so they can be acknowledged, accepted and acted upon. The questions can be downloaded as a pdf here.

We encourage UCRF members attending the conference to reference and raise these points in active sessions and industry panels.


PANEL: Circular fashionWhat does collaboration around circularity actually look like in practice? And how do you engage designers from the outset?

Neither the techniques nor the infrastructure to enable true circularity (where all outputs of the fashion industry become inputs and excess inputs are no longer generated by the system) currently exist.

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UCRF Code of Conduct

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About the Union / Blogroll

Version 1, 14th April 2020

Culture of change

The first principle of UCRF is to affect systemic change in the fashion sector, for fashion that respects Earth’s limits and the health and survival of all species. This means that we, its board and members, always have to ask – is this action likely to lead to most possible change, with priorities outlined in the UCRF manifesto. Is this the best way to spend our energy, time and resources?

UCRF is a platform for collective action and not for self-promotion. This also means that individuals or collectives, whether founders, board members or members, cannot use the UCRF as a platform for financial gain.

UCRF seeks to be a leader in its culture of change as well as through its actions. To this end, we take time to reflect on our culture at each meeting and the AGM.

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I signed this manifesto because…

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Blogroll / Manifesto

The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion’s founding document is its manifesto. This, our rallying call to like-minded individuals, invites people to support the Union by putting their name to the manifesto and saying why these actions matter. Their responses speak volumes. Last year, shortly after founding the Union, we published an initial selection. Here is an inspiring selection from more recently joined members:

“My interest, passion and occupation is in sustainable fashion. I am very concerned about animal welfare, pollution of and depletion of the natural environment, human population explosion and its impact upon the Earth’s finite resources and finely balanced natural systems, and ultimately the survival of the biosphere including human and all species. To be involved in the endeavours of UCRF, even if only by way of membership would be a great honour.”

“Our relationship with clothes – their design, production, use, care and disposal – needs to change fundamentally. Sustained collaborative effort is necessary to lead the debate, provoke action and make the need for change vastly more apparent to more people more quickly. I’d like to join with others in this work.”

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