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About the shemakes.eu Project

The Goal

The goal of shemakes.eu is to empower future female innovators of the sustainable fashion industry through inspiration, skills and networks.

The Challenge

Women in the textile and clothing industry are currently most represented in the lowest-paying jobs; their positions are affected by systemic gender constructs while their natural and acquired skills are assigned low value in traditional business structures.

The Solution(s)

Create opportunity structures and business environments (such as circular, sustainable and near-shored) that enable women to move into roles of increasing power and income through access to hard skills, technology and innovation as well as to networking, business modelling and role models.

The shemakes innovation approach

Within the shemakes project we use a three-pronged approach to reach our goals. We provide innovative learning paths for girls and women of various ages, concrete business support and connections, and inspiring stories of female role models.

We recognize that to generate the large-scale mindset shift required to change the prospects of women in this industry, there is no simple, magic formula, so we operate on multiple intersecting planes that could be visualized as a circular system. Activities in this project are aimed at increasing skills and the perceived values of these skills. This, in turn, should result in increased equity for women in the field, and thus more gender and socio-economic diversity. Any part of this combination ought to lead to designing more innovative production and relational systems. And these factors all feed into each other once again in an “iterative” circle of innovation that we believe will generate widespread change.

Essential to our ability to address the issue of gender in the T&C industry is the partnership consortium’s combined, multi-disciplinary experience and wide-reaching networks. Two extant networks addressing textiles, sustainability and innovation form the core of our community: Fabricademy, a transdisciplinary course that focuses on the development of new technologies and approaches in the textile industry; and TCBL (Textile Clothing and Business Labs) a project and now Foundation that focuses on co-developing testbeds for cutting edge innovation in the sustainable and circular fashion industry. The values and learning models of Fabricademy feed into the shemakes system, while TCBL’s diffused lab model and network of associates is another one of the bases of our new project.

A third branch of the project, supporting the two core activities, seeks to inspire girls and women to achieve their goals. We’ll have identified and will be promoting a range of female role models within the community who we see as contributing to or leading the way in the sector’s transformation. The project website and social media will provide stories and opportunities to interact with these role models whose ideas and actions are being implemented into our community.

Why focus on the textile & clothing industry?

While numerous projects and initiatives have focused on bridging the gender gap in STEM sectors, this project focuses on addressing gender inequality in the specific business sector of the textile and clothing industry. 

The textile industry provides fertile ground for a project that we believe can be an example of how it is possible to generate change that will lead to better representation in this specific workforce and to closing the gender pay gap in industry in general.

Shemakes labs around Europe have joined forces to develop research and public activities centred on four general themes in the T&C industry as well as a transversal research project that seeks to reinvent one essential material: wool.


The project expects to produce a range of concrete impacts on textile and clothing manufacturing in at least ten European countries and provide a roadmap for policy change, making it replicable on an even larger scale. We envisage a more circular sustainable fashion industry guided by concepts of equality, innovation and openness, in which female creativity, craftswomanship and compassion are recognized as drivers of success.