Promoting Traditional Fashion & Textiles in the Digital Age

“this project will focus on the ethical, sustainability and environmental issues” Josie Steed, Gray’s School of Art

shanghai RGU project tweed and silkReassessing our priorities has come into sharp focus with the Covid19 lockdown – the things and people who are truly essential. It is also a time for examining what we can do to limit the impact of climate change – not just with how many unnecessary journeys we make but also what we as consumers are buying.

A team of academics, from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU)  Computing, Art and Creative and Cultural Business schools, have been awarded £1.3million for a  project to educate consumers about the sustainability, craftmanship, heritage and value of traditional fashion and textile products.

The project titled ‘Augmented Fashion: Immersive Interactions for Sustainable Heritage in Fashion and Textiles’ involves RGU working with industry partners across Scotland and academics in Shangahi, China.  It  has been awarded  £499,377 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council plus £844,349 matched funding resources from all the  partners collaborating. 

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.

shanghai RGU & partners textile clothing project

The project team includes:

  • Dr Yang Jiang, RGU,as the lead investigator
  • Karen Cross, course Leader for fashion management at the School of Creative and Cultural Business, RGU
  • Josie Steed, design researcher in sustainability and knowledge exchange at Gray’s School of Art, RGU
  • Professor Rong Zheng, Donghua University
  • Shanghai Promotion Centre for City of Fashion
  • Harris Tweed Hebrides brand
  • Kirsteen Stewart in Orkney (Kirsteen Stewart Collection Inspired by Coastal MappingSuccess for Kirsteen Stewart in Hong Kong)
  • Niela Nell Kalra in Shetland
  • Soluis, an immersive technology company based in Glasgow.

Dr Yang Jiang of RGU who is leading the project 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.”

Read about Harris Tweed here: Celebrating Island Business in Orkney

Harris Tweed

Mark Hogarth: Harris Tweed Hebrides

Karen Cross 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.”

Read about Orkney Tweed here: Orkney Tweed: Its Past, Present and Future  

Josie Steed of Gray’s School of Art said:

“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:

Hand woven tweed on St Kilda

Hand woven tweed on St Kilda Photo taken by Jane Cooper from a book by M L Ryder

Here’s a short video of some examples of traditional embroidery and exquisite fashion from Shanghai – contrasted with a lot men in dark suits.

1 reply »

  1. Really insightful post! I think VR would definitely be an interesting option in the future post-covid. It would allow them to keep the physical shows exclusive to the celebrities but still let us ‘normal people’ have a similar experience.

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