Promoting community-led uptake and innovation

An important and innovative component of the HEREWEAR methodology has been the development of a community of individuals and businesses interested in participating actively in project developments.

The transformation of the textile and clothing industry towards a local, circular and biobased business ecosystem involves a broad-reaching innovation process that no single entity can carry out on its own.  As innovative products and processes are adopted, knowledge needs to flow freely across disciplines and regions; as value chains are re-defined, so are roles of people and businesses remapped collectively; as new challenges arise, trust becomes an essential ingredient for lowering innovation risk. All of these dynamics lead to the need to shift the emphasis beyond the confines of the single company or organisation towards a collective community dimension.

The HEREWEAR Community

An important and innovative component of the HEREWEAR methodology has been the development of a community of individuals and businesses interested in participating actively in project developments and gaining early-stage access to information about new materials and processes as their research activities unfold. Over the project’s lifetime, over 200 participants from across Europe signed up to the Community platform and over 200 citizens, associations, businesses, and public authorities participated in 10 face-to-face workshops and events.

The On-line Community

The community-building activity unfolded along the two parallel dimensions of on- and offline interaction. For the on-line community, a specific community platform allows members to join the community by expressing their needs and interests and alignment with HEREWEAR objectives. Registered members gain access to reserved information grouped according to the three main HEREWEAR themes: Circular Strategies / Materials, Bio-based tech, and Local communities.

In addition, the community space includes a directory of community members, a calendar of community events, a listing of HEREWEAR project actions and outputs, and a listing of key project experts to follow. Following the project conclusion at the end October 2024, this community space will be maintained by the TCBL Association as a natural extension of the methodology and approach shaping the Community Space.

Quadruple helix communities

In parallel with the development of the online community, particularly active participants together with HEREWEAR project partners have developed the community dimension within specific local contexts. This allows for a more fluid and direct interaction in concrete operational settings that address the specific issues and opportunities in each geographical, industrial, and cultural context.

In order to fully address the innovation potentials in each local community, the quadruple helix model has been adopted as a framework for bringing stakeholders together. This ensures that a broad range of perspectives are included, including those of public authorities, local businesses, research and innovation centres, and citizens and NGOs.

Emergent community interaction models

Throughout the community building and interaction activities in HEREWEAR, three distinct models for community interaction emerge. Each of these may involve a mixture of on- and offline interaction, but they differ in terms of the main objective bringing stakeholders together.

  • Community of practice: This is a well-known model connecting participants from the same field of activity (e.g. designers, manufacturers, activists) wishing to share knowledge and insights. The relative homogeneity of actors allows them to focus on specific issues of concern from a common baseline.
  • Community of production: This model unites stakeholders with a range of roles, generally situated along a manufacturing value chain, who wish to explore systemic innovations together. The presence of key players from different stages (e.g. spinning, weaving, sewing, retail) allows them to gain knowledge from their varied perspectives, and experiment with alternative value chain production models.
  • Community of purpose: This model brings together stakeholders sharing a common set of values.  It often subsumes the above interaction models to address specific issues or carry out targeted experiments. More broadly, however, ensures that all of these activities promote the transition towards sustainability as the main purpose driving their activity. It is also a model on its own, facilitating new thinking about economic models for the future in which purpose and business are fused into a shared vision.
Community-building is only possible through active engagement such as workshops in Arles, France, copyright TCBL
Community-building is only possible through active engagement such as workshops in Arles, France, copyright TCBL
HEREWEAR partners worked alongside communities to understand the value of bio-based, local and circular, copyright UAL
HEREWEAR partners worked alongside communities to understand the value of bio-based, local and circular, copyright UAL

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