FAQ

Can I sign up as an individual?
Yes – every member joins UCRF as an individual. When joining we ask you to complete information about your affiliation and say why you want to join the Union.  This helps to provide context on the knowledge and experience of our members but does not mean that your organisation/institution supports or endorses the UCRF manifesto.

Can my organisation sign up?
No. When you join UCRF, you do so as an individual. However, there is no limit to the number of people who can sign up from any one organisation.

Will this cost anything? Is there a fee?
There is an annual membership fee of GBP 20, and our membership year runs from 1 February to 31 January. In its first year, the Union’s costs were carried by the co-founders but a fee was introduced in 2020 to support the development of the Union’s activities.

If for some reason you are unable to pay the membership fee and still want to be a UCRF member, please get in touch with us and we will figure out a solution together.

Will my name appear on a public list?
Yes. By joining UCRF, your name and affiliation will appear on the list of manifesto signatories on the Union’s website. A list of signatories may also be included in press releases, statements and open letters published by the Union. Such documents are circulated to the membership in advance of publishing.

What is the benefit of joining UCRF? 
By joining UCRF  you show your support for robust knowledge-making for fashion and sustainability. A further benefit is that you become part of a collective group of like-minded people and have the opportunity to get involved in various collaborative activities. Often work in fashion and sustainability can feel isolating and challenging. Together we can support each other and have more visibility and power to make real change. 

What activities can I get involved in as a UCRF member?
There are a range of opportunities for members to get involved. At present these include attending a monthly discussion forum; connecting with other members in a Facebook group; setting up a Local Assembly; contributing to an annual Wikipedia editathon; proposing or joining a working group to focus on specific issues or projects; and attending the Annual General Meeting. Our activities are constantly in development and we welcome suggestions for new initiatives from the membership.

Further details of how to get involved are available to members on our Wild Apricot members-only page.

How much time will this take?
A couple of hours a year as a minimum; more if you’d like to become more involved.

Can I withdraw from UCRF after joining?
Yes. You can cancel your membership at any time by emailing the board. If you cancel your membership, we will remove all of your personal data from our records. Please note that membership fees for the remainder of the membership year will not be refunded and that your name may still appear on any versions of the Union’s statements and publications published while you were a member.

When I sign up, should I then change my research practices?
We anticipate that we will all begin to work differently as we work to change things together. We will learn much and expand our options. In the short term, we ask members to look for opportunities within their current work to turn it towards the Union’s manifesto, i.e. that you take an active approach to helping us realize the Union’s manifesto points.

Do I have to stop flying, consuming, printing books and become vegan in order to join the UCRF?
UCRF is an organisation whose focus is on challenging the simplified discussion and predominant growth logic within the fashion sector by disseminating research and creating activist knowledge ecologies. This work in itself has environmental impact and requires everyday considerations, where members have to negotiate between priorities of how to best reach the organisation’s goals and the activity’s environmental impact. While UCRF supports the initiative of No Fly Climate Sci, the Union currently has no organisation-wide policy on flying, consuming, dressing or eating, and respects individual choices on the matter.

Is UCRF anti-capitalist / anti-business?
Not per se. We do critique capitalism and business as it is now practised, and aim to elevate examples of ‘other ways’ that do not depend on growing demand for declining resources. 

UCRF releases questions to conferences and events addressing fashion and sustainability. What are these for?
UCRF’s written questions directed to conferences and events are addressed to the overall community of researchers, not for or against a certain community, agenda, brand or event. UCRF aims to mobilise 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.” The questions sent by UCRF to conferences and events aim to stress the urgency of the issues addressed, and specifically to push the discussion forward, including in relationship with other actions in the fashion and sustainability field.

UCRF seems to specifically critique an area of research that I am engaged in, which I feel undermines my work.  Can you explain why UCRF focuses on particular areas?
UCRF does not take a specific stand for or against any specific methods, indexes, agendas or research programs. UCRF is not for or against any persons, brands, funders or institutions. Rather, UCRF wants to stress the importance of “diversify[ing] 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.” While it is always uncomfortable to have work criticised, UCRF is not taking any specific critical stance or theoretical position in economic or academic debates. If some of the issues UCRF raises appear critical of certain work, we hope that these questions push research and debate forward, adding new angles and perspectives.

UCRF seems to be against all kinds of current initiatives that support sustainability. Can’t you be more constructive?
UCRF supports a wide ecology of initiatives that push for “whole systems and paradigm change, beyond current norms and business-as-usual.” UCRF wants to stress, however, that what is often labelled as “constructive” is set within a paradigm of sustaining business-as-usual, that is, being “constructive” often means narrowing down possibilities to maintain a current order of things, an order that may not be sustainable from a planetary perspective.

The tone of many statements from UCRF seems academic. Wouldn’t it be better if the UCRF used a more inclusive tone?
UCRF tries to use a variety of language depending on the expected audience. However, as its name suggests, UCRF is primarily a mobilisation of researchers. Most institutions of research use academic terms and language, and the primary concern of UCRF is to counterbalance a discussion across the field that is often “over-simplified, fragmented and obstructed by the growth logic of capitalist business models as they are currently realised and practiced.”

How does the Union of Concerned Fashions Researchers compare to, for example: OTA, Textile Exchange, Sustainable Apparel Coalition/Higg Index, Designers Accord, Common Objective, GOTS, Global Fashion Agenda, Fashion Revolution, CFDA?
UCRF is independent of any other organisation. Every member joins as an individual. UCRF creates a platform for establishing a robust knowledge base about sustainability themes in the fashion sector, sharing best practice and resources.

UCRF is open to researchers, people working in the fashion industry, fashion educators, researchers, scientists, organisations and concerned laypeople. 

UCRF does not promote any specific fibre, material, process, or index. 

UCRF does not do consultancy. 

Our interest is solely in doing work that leads us towards better understanding of how to live and dress in right relationship with the Earth.

How can I contact the board?
You can contact the board of UCRF at info@concernedresearchers.org.  Since we are a small organisation and have a large number of inquiries and ongoing projects, please be patient if there is a delay in response. We do our best to respond to enquiries but due to the volume of messages, we will not necessarily be able to reply individually to every single one.

This version: 28 June 2021