Review of the TCBL Conference, by Eva Davies

Editor's note: we normally reserve this blog for 'official' project news and updates, but this report on #TCBL-2016 from a 14-year old attendant is probably better than anything we could write. Thanks Eva!

The TCBL Conference at the Textile Centre of Excellence featured speakers, Professor Filipe Barata, Sue Alderson, Kate Hills, Dr Fridolin Wild, Bill Macbeth and Mark Shayler. All of whom spoke about their sustainability concerns and technology’s growing involvement whilst some touched on subjects like leadership and becoming aware of smaller companies/organisations in the national and international industry. Their talks were very beneficial as they linked to business, computing and obviously textiles – 3 out of the 4 subjects I chose to study at GCSE level. It was also beneficial as the need for young people to become involved within the industry was showcased.

The conference also opened my eyes regarding the production of everyday clothes, especially regarding jeans - blue jeans. Every year 80 billion garments are produced – 2 billion of which are blue jeans. This statistic is worrying because for each pair of those jeans, 7000 litres of water are used in the production process. This situation is made even worse when 10% of all garments made are taken straight to landfill. Because of this, it shows you why clothes should be bought to last rather than being bought frequently to keep in fashion so there would be a smaller impact.

Throughout the two full days, I learnt many different facts but one that stood out to me was how Burberry were looking to employ a minimum of 500 machinists. At first, this took a while for me to fully register. This was because before, when looking at a career within a company like Burberry, jobs that were talked about the most were designers and stylists rather than being part of the production team. It then occurred to me that not enough young people are desiring to be machinists because not only do they feel that being a designer/stylists allows them to be more creative but becoming a machinist is not discussed in detail within school. If I were never able to go the conference, I would never have known that Burberry were looking for 500 machinists. Something else that hasn’t been discussed within school is the past, present and future of Huddersfield’s involvement within the industry. When Paul Johnson spoke about Huddersfield, he said how it was the only town in the World to add value to fabric or garment with the use of it’s name. This then put it into perspective of how there is no better time or place for my generation to enter the textiles industry.

This experience has given me the opportunity to interact with people that before I had no idea even existed. I was able to talk to Maria Adele about computers and their ever-growing involvement in textiles but especially focusing on pattern work. I also spoke to Cecilia, Ista and Marc from the WAAG Society in Amsterdam about how they are able to connect to their local communities and inform them about their local textile industry with their labs (which are used to connect to other labs around the world and share their experiences).

My knowledge of textiles has improved immensely and my knowledge of the past and present has been broadened whilst visons of the future have been introduced and explained to me. The industry had become to appeal to me more as a career so I can say that I have become more aware of the industry. It made me realise that the demand for young people to go into the industry is higher but less young people are seeing it as something that is more than a hobby. So I want to thank TCBL, WAAG, Maria and everyone that spoke to me and taught me something new for a memorable, educational and fantastic experience and that I hope you continue with all your missions!

Even though I had many of my earlier questions answered over the two days, I have thought some more and have found a gap for certain pieces so I leave some of my unanswered questions and would love to receive any answers or thoughts –

  • Before coming to this conference, as a young person I had no idea about the range of careers that were available in the textile industry. When textile careers where mentioned, the first things that come to mind are jobs that have involvement with fashion designers and models. So, how do you aim to inform the next generation of young people about the range of jobs that are involved within the industry?
  • As a young person, I find that it is easy to get involved in a hobby and then after being obsessed for 2 weeks, something new is found and the other is forgotten. So, how are you going to be able to keep the interest in the textile industry throughout them growing up and discovering new opportunities?
  • Many schools today do not inform students about the different career choices and miss out on their desired path as they do not even know that their desired path even exists! Is there a way of reaching out to these students by contacting local schools and giving workshops/talks? Or would it even be possible to get a TCBL group that is run by student ambassadors and focuses on young people being introduced into the career path of textiles?
  • The next generation is becoming more and more involved with technology so it is becoming part of their everyday life and is used as a tool that is almost compulsory. Because of this increasing usage of technology among young people, is there a way of addressing this need to use it to be innovative for the progress of tech within textiles?

Posted By
Kath Davies