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DMU academic's research into a sustainable fashion industry puts her centre stage at World Expo


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A leading researcher in textile design at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is to address a global audience about the need to turn a much-criticised fashion industry into a force for good.

Dr Claire Lerpiniere, a senior lecturer in Textile Design, is to take to the world stage at Expo 2020 Dubai, and explore how we can all play a part in creating a ‘circular’ fashion industry that eliminates pollution and exploitation.

Claire-Lerpiniere-DMU

Dr Claire Lerpiniere will address a global audience

Dr Lerpiniere is to deliver a live talk in October when the Expo – one of the biggest shows on the planet welcoming 190 countries and millions of visitors  - opens its doors to the world.

The international spectacular – postponed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic - will showcase the very best in technology, culture, education, business and more and DMU is one of the founding partners of the six month-long event.

Dr Lerpiniere has been asked by the Government’s Department for International Trade to deliver her talk as the UK showcases the best in research into a sustainable future.

Dr Lerpiniere said: “From a personal point of view, it is really important to have the opportunity to take issues surrounding a sustainable fashion industry to a world stage in Dubai because we all need to collaborate to make it happen.

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An artist's impression of the front of the UK Pavilion being built at Expo

“We should not be looking at how we create fashion for less but how we create fashion as a force for good in the world, instead of it being polluting and exploitative in its nature.

“We need academics, scientists, activists and the heads of industry to work together and I find it really exciting that I can be central to these conversations at Expo.”

Dr Lerpiniere’s research into textiles also looks at the concept of ‘circular’ fashion to ensure the industry has a bright future.

She said: “It is important to look at what circular fashion means. Some people see it as recycling materials but it is far more than that. It is about a cycle which reduces and phases out the waste and pollution created by the industry and looks into the longevity of a product.

“How can we form an emotional relationship with clothing? Is what we buy going to fit in with our lifestyle, our personality and our sense of identity and therefore last longer? How can we as industry influencers, designers, and consumers all play a role in this shift towards a sustainable future in fashion?

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An interior view of the UK Pavilion

“At DMU we have the Textile Engineering and Materials Research Group (TEAM), which works to find innovative solutions for creating sustainable textiles, and the Education For Sustainable Development Goals movement, which uses principles of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a focus for our teaching and research.

“It means we can play key roles in the arguments for embedding better corporate values in the UK and beyond while I can drive forward our role as someone who supports the next generation of design activists to strive to make the industry better.

“We need our students to take these values with them into their careers and start meaningful conversations with their employers, and in their personal actions as consumers.

“People are speaking out and making this a very interesting time, because a lot of brad practices are being laid bare.

“Yes, we do need to have conversations about that, but we also need to see what a bright future for the industry can look like.

“Consumers are far more aware and they do care about where their clothing comes from. We talk a lot about waste and pollution but we need to look at the economic issues, social justice and fairness. We could adopt the best methods in the world but still be guilty of exploiting the workforce.

“We need to look at current corporate strategies, and look at the better strategies we can all adopt to move towards a truly circular fashion industry.”

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Millions of visitors are expected from across the world from October to see countries showing off their very best innovations in areas like space exploration, AI, healthcare, arts, culture and sustainability.

Each country will have its own pavilion at the 4.38 square kilometre Expo site, being constructed in south Dubai.

As a founding partner, DMU will have a continuous presence at one of the world’s biggest, highest-profile exhibitions, showing its high-impact research and innovative approaches to sustainability, while creating unparalleled experiences for its students during and after the event.

Posted on Tuesday 23rd February 2021

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