Designers, the creative heartbeat of the fashion and textile industry, often see themselves as the masterminds behind innovative creations, while relying on others to handle the business side and lead their teams. Unfortunately, this often translates into conventional leadership models that prioritise profits above the well-being of our planet and its people. It's no wonder, then, that the fashion and textile industry has secured its place among the most environmentally damaging sectors on a global scale. With a staggering annual production growth rate of 8.8%1 and a hefty contribution of 10% to humanity's carbon emissions 2 , it's time we rethink our approach. Let’s infuse sustainability into the stylish fabric of our industry through regenerative leadership.
Regenerative Leadership: Moving away from a purely profit-focused approach, going beyond simply minimising negative impacts and actively working to restore and enhance the social-ecological systems in which the fashion industry operates.
Introducing ReLead: an innovative one-year project that explores the imperative need for regenerative leadership in the fashion and textile industries, while highlighting the transformative role of technology in organisational development.
As technology permeates every aspect of our lives, including business, it's crucial to explore its role in helping us become better regenerative leaders. By leveraging technology and embracing regenerative leadership practices, we can transform the textile industry into a force for positive change.
In collaboration with four prominent players from the UK and the Netherlands, the ReLead project aims to co-create a comprehensive leadership toolkit that harnesses technology. This toolkit will empower creative designers to transition into regenerative leaders and drive widespread adoption. By enabling designers to tap into nature's wisdom, we aim to shift the industry's paradigm, fostering holistic and restorative growth while moving away from extractive models towards intuitive and inclusive approaches 3 . Ultimately, our goal is to address pressing sustainability challenges and minimise the environmental footprint of the fashion industry.
This change in leadership is not only essential for solving the problems we face today but also aligns with the European vision for Industry 5.0, which prioritises the well-being of workers at the core of the production process 4 . To find effective solutions, we must rethink our leadership styles and business practices. ReLead is here to champion this necessary shift towards regenerative leadership in the fashion and textile industry. We will be tapping into regenerative leadership knowledge from Laura Storm’s Regenerators Academy and Giles Hutchins Leadership Immersions.
More information? Contact Ishwari Thopte, I.V.Thopte@hhs.nl
Funding: KIEM GoCI
Project Lead: The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS: Circular Business Research Group)
- i-did is a social enterprise in the Netherlands that creates recycled textiles and integrates people back into society through work. They are our SME and practical partners on this project.
- Elvis & Kresse is a luxury fashion brand and a B-corp from the UK that has been reusing waste materials as raw materials for fashion accessories. They have been pioneers in applying regenerative business principles and are our international knowledge partners.
- Royal College of Art (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design) are advisory partners in creative leadership and designing for inclusivity.
- The University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh Futures Institute) are advisory partners on technology and design informatics.
1. The Business Research Company, (October 2022), Global Market Report: Textile Global Market Report 2022 – Market Size, Trends, And Global Forecast 2022-2026 https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/textile-global-market-report
2. UNECE (1 March 2018), Fashion and the SDGs: what role for the UN? https://www.genevaenvironmentnetwork.org/resources/updates/sustainable-fashion/
3. Regenerative Leadership (Hutchins. G, Storm. L, 2023) https://www.regenerativeleadership.co/
4. Industry 5.0. (2022, January 10). Research and Innovation. https://research-and-innovation.e