RGU host international conference to support Scotland’s textile sector

Monday 14 November 2022

Abstract image of textiles
Textile designers and industry experts from across Scotland will come together to embrace new technologies at an international conference on augmented fashion hosted by Robert Gordon University (RGU) from Wednesday 16 until Friday 18 November.

The International Conference on Augmented Reality (ICAF 2022) will bring together prominent voices from the Scottish textile industry along with international partners from the sector.

The conference is being organised by a multi-disciplinary team who is leading an international project called ‘Augmented Fashion’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UKRI. The team includes researchers from Computing, Fashion and Textiles and Creative and Cultural Business from RGU and Donghua University, Shanghai China who are working together to bridge skills gaps and to encourage innovative and sustainable practices in the creative industries across the UK and China.

'ICAF 22' launches at midday on Wednesday 16 November at the Sir Ian Wood Building at RGU with a drop in exhibition that’s free to visit and available to view throughout the conference. The following two days of the conference will be live streamed for the rest of the event with free access for all.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the chance to explore a virtual mill tour of Harris Tweed Hebrides, led by Glasgow-based design collective, Lateral North. There will also be networking opportunities and immersive technology demonstrations from leading figures in Scotland’s textile and fashion sector who will showcase the role digital skills, computer coding and new technologies are playing in craft practices.

RGU academics, Dr Karen Cross from the School of Creative and Cultural Business, Dr Yang Jiang, Lecturer in Digital Media from the School of Computing and Josie Steed, a senior design lecturer at Gray’s School of Art and the first female member of the Aberdeen Tailor’s Incorporation, will also host an interactive presentation entitled ‘Connected Threads: Telling Tales of Engagement”, to highlight the role immersive technologies offer for Scotland’s heritage fashion.

Josie Steed explains more: “There are only a handful of remaining traditional working mills in Scotland, however there is an international resurgence of interest in Scottish made textiles. It is exciting to see heritage brands such as Johnstons of Elgin, Montrose Rope and Sail and Harris Tweed Hebrides together with more recent business ventures such as Prickly Thistle doing so well within the global marketplace. It is therefore vital that we continue to work together with the industry in Scotland to support their aspirations for innovation and sustainable working practices.

“Over the past four years, RGU has worked with a range of companies across Scotland including Harris Tweed Hebrides and the Montrose Rope & Sail company through Knowledge Partnership Initiatives to explore opportunities to enhance their brands through strategic innovation. 

“The pandemic and the alarming climate change has refocussed attention on the need to make the textile sector more sustainable and there are huge opportunities in the North East to harness new technologies. Immersive Technologies are increasingly being used as powerful digital tools to create interactive consumer experiences and it is vital that we reflect on their potential and the opportunities they offer to the sustainable global fashion and textile industry. “

Gray’s alumni and winner of the RGU Principal’s Award for Design 2022, Beth Davidson, and creator of the award-winning clothing range, ‘Outer Shell’, will also host a demonstration at the event to highlight how augmented reality technologies can enhance the customer experience and to showcase her collection of virtual ‘wearables’, that enable customers to try products on from the comfort of their homes.

Gray’s alumni and Edinburgh based, Beth Davidson, said: “The ICAF is an exciting step for the fashion industry in Scotland and beyond, it is a great opportunity to hear from experts in their field and learn how a multidisciplinary approach could benefit the industry. Studying at Gray’s gave me the chance to experiment with different techniques and processes where I learnt to think about fashion design in new ways from a sustainability perspective and where traditional methods of visualising fashion could be challenged. 

“The context of the design is so important for consumer engagement in a product. The more connected a consumer feels to that item of clothing the more likely they are to appreciate it and the sustainable practises behind its creation.  A consumer’s expectations of brands are changing, the ethically concerned consumer values authenticity and transparency, just as much as aesthetic appeal. New digital technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality could really help bridge that gap between consumer and designer, in realising the meaning and narrative of a garment in a much more interactive and immersive way than was possible before.”

The remainder of the conference will be live streamed online and includes panel discussions from industry peers, experts and consumers as they explore the opportunities that immersive technologies bring for Scotland’s heritage fashion and textile industry.

Registration is required to attend the event. For more information visit RGU Events

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