TCBL: Textile and Clothing Business Labs
TCBL is a project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme under Grant Agreement 646133. It aims to transform the Textiles and Clothing industry, with the objective of bringing 5% of production capacity back to Europe by 2025. As the industry continues to experience a period of deep crisis, with a constant de-localization driven by the search for low cost labour, new and significant opportunities are emerging based on new production and distribution technologies, innovative organisational models, and new creative energies. In parallel, customers are showing increasing attention to ethical and environmental sustainability in the clothes they wear. The gap, however, between possible new business models and the reality of small and micro-enterprises is too wide and the risk they face in experimenting new models is currently too high.
TCBL aims to bridge this cap with the creation of a network of Business Labs that freely experiment the implications of potential innovations and their concrete impacts on business operations. Three types of laboratory focus on specific areas of the value chain:
- Design Labs explore tools and methods for designing textiles and clothes, working with professionals, fashion students, or anyone, even working from home.
- Making Labs experiment with production methods and machinery old and new, from re-discovering traditional tailoring to 3D printing and laser cutting.
- Place Labs investigate the local and social dimensions of clothes making, with new modes of organisation of work such as on-demand or home DIY production, community lab spaces, and networks of artisan shops.
These laboratories interact with a substantial number of sector enterprises of various dimensions – “pilot businesses” – who compose innovation elements coming from different Business Labs to identify transition scenarios that can accompany their shift from current ways of working towards more innovative and competitive business models. This process is supported by interactive knowledge and learning services together with an open repertoire of business services supporting specific moments of the new business models: training, logistics, etc..
The interactive and creative processes in TCBL aim to gradually build an integrated business ecosystem covering the entire value chain. The initial configuration in project year 2 will consist of 15 Business Labs and 60 Pilot Businesses, while by the project’s end this will grow to 90 Labs, 240 Pilots, 35 service enterprises, and 15 start-ups. This exponential path of ecosystem growth will be sustained by yearly Calls for Expression of Interest in the TCBL Associates Programme, which will select new members to receive specific support and assistance from project partners.
TCBL is thus expected to have a widespread impact on the T&C industry in Europe, shifting consumer goals, expectations, and even engagement in the processes of designing and making clothes. This in turn will have both social and environmental impacts, as well as influencing attitudes towards responsible fashion and significantly improving the prosperity of Europe’s diffused system of production.
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