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Ying Lai, photo CSF_FSP_Main MA Fashion

The UK has a unique profile of design-led fashion micro and small enterprises (MSEs), linked directly with the UK’s internationally respected arts education system. These businesses, many based in London, are widely recognised as drivers of design innovation and inspiration for the global fashion industry, whose influence permeates wider cultural and economic domains. Increasingly in recent years, fashion MSEs are demonstrating alternative ways of doing business with sustainability mindsets and purpose that focus on more than economic goals for prosperity.  


The project Rethinking Fashion Design Entrepreneurship: Fostering Sustainable Practices (FSP), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), is the first to research and identify the holistic approaches pioneering fashion MSEs bring to the concept of sustainable prosperity and the potential for such practices to transform the fashion industry.   


This collaborative research is led by Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), a University of the Arts London research, education and knowledge exchange centre, based at London College of Fashion. Academic project partners are based at London College of Fashion, The Open University and Middlesex University’s Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR; a partner in Surrey University’s Centre for Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity CUSP). 

Fostering Sustainable Practices (FSP)

The FSP project investigates the creative practice in fashion design-led micro and small enterprises (MSEs) as a potential driver for change towards a more sustainable future. 

Our Partners 

To ensure industry relevance, the FSP project collaborated with London College of Fashion’s incubator Centre for Fashion Enterprise and key industry partners: business support organisations British Fashion CouncilAfrican Fashion Week London and Common Objective; manufacturers’ organisations UK Fashion & Textile Association, and Textile Centre of Excellence; and online fashion platform Not Just A Label.  


Five MSE partners supported the research from the beginning of the project - RaeburnUNMADERiz BoardshortsMichelle Lowe Holder and Martine Jarlgaard – and together with a further 22 fashion MSEs, formed a core study group of 27 enterprises. These partners made an invaluable contribution to the research, enhancing validity and impact. 

Project Outputs

The project’s in-depth study of both fashion design and service-based MSEs and their businesstrajectories identified key points of intervention, enabling the team to develop alternative business support mechanisms for sustainability to inform fashion businesses and support organisations, and to create recommendations for policy makers. 

The research has resulted in a range of project outcomes to date comprising: 



The guidebook, Fashion as Sustainability in Action, provides business support organisations with an understanding of sustainable prosperity and the needs of the designer fashion sector. It provides guidance on sustainable practices and alternative measures of success that support fashion MSEs' development and longer-term flourishing.  

Project Team

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Contact for the project 

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