The Final Conference of the CLOTH project was the stage where the conclusions of the study promoting the competitiveness, sustainability and resilience of the fashion sector in Europe were presented.
The countries that have allied to develop the project are Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Denmark and France
Within the framework of the Cluster alliance for the transition to green and digital fashion (CLOTH) project, the Catalan Fashion Cluster has presented, during the Final Conference, the most outstanding strategies and conclusions of the study that identifies sustainability and digitization, as the main challenges for clusters and SMEs in the fashion sector.
Throughout the CLOTH project, which began in February 2022 and has had the support of partners from five European countries – Agrupació Catalana del Tèxtil i la Moda (Spain), Bulgarian Fashion Association (Bulgaria), Asociata Iconic Cluster (Romania ), Lifestyle and Design Cluster (Denmark) and, Ea Eco-entreprises Association (France) – different strategies have been designed so that small and medium-sized companies in the fashion sector increase their competitiveness in areas such as digital transformation, the circular economy, internationalization and innovation, among others. In this regard, the experts propose actions such as: training in eco-design and circular economy, improving resource efficiency, introducing the use of artificial intelligence tools, promoting the search for raw materials and creating new models of business based on the circular economy, among others.
The project began with a first phase dedicated to the analysis, which made it possible to obtain a general picture of the state of the sector in the five participating countries, and has included more than twenty activities, among which the Clusterxchange program, through which a dozen exchange trips have been organized that have made it possible to learn about new business models.
After more than a year of work, the project leaders have concluded that in order to increase efficiency in the current fashion market, resources must be allocated to training; encourage collaboration between fashion institutes, laboratories and organizations dedicated to recycling; focus on specific projects and activities that are appropriate for small and medium-sized enterprises; keep abreast of innovations and new technologies; improve digital infrastructures and develop training programs for workers; and be prepared to comply with future European Union regulations.
The CLOTH project: initiatives and activities for a greener, smarter, more competitive and innovative European fashion sector
The CLOTH project has aimed to promote interregional cooperation by creating an alliance of clusters within the fashion sector, working in different value chains such as fashion and textiles, the circular economy and the creative industry and digital, to achieve a greener, smarter, more competitive and innovative European fashion sector.
During the first phase of the project, the consortium analyzed the trends and challenges of the textile and fashion sector in each of the participating regions and countries, to create a map of the industry, obtain a real picture of the ecosystem, and identify solutions that help the sector to be more circular and sustainable. Based on this first analysis, a common strategy was drawn up focused on five main axes – digital transformation, circular economy, internationalization, innovation and shared value, and intercluster cooperation -, each of which has been deployed in several actions aimed at companies for the next three years.
Among the various initiatives of the project, the ClusterxChange program stands out, through which a dozen exchange trips have been organized throughout the year – to destinations such as the Netherlands, London, Austria, Turkey, Italy, among others – in which companies linked to the fashion sector were visited, meetings were held with the chambers of commerce of the different countries and retail tours were carried out in order to learn about new business models. Some of these trips have coincided with international fairs of interest to the sector such as Milano Unica, Future Fabrics in London or Aquatech in Amsterdam.
To strengthen the skills and knowledge of the cluster managers and the technical staff of the clusters, learning programs have been organized in each of the member countries of the project. Each program has had experts who have explained the management of clusters, cluster policies that the governments of each country bring to terms and good practices in research, internationalization and cooperation. In total, 5 training programs and 5 webinars have been organized with topics related to the new European legislation relating to eco-design and the circular economy, good practices in sustainability, European support programs for textile SMEs and digital solutions to improve the day-to-day of SMEs.
The CLOTH project has been financed by the COSME program of the European Union.The Final Conference of the project was held from November 21 to 23 in the city of Iasi (Romania) and welcomed around seventy participants.