NHS Fit for Purpose: A regional model for co-designing, producing, and evaluating effective and affective PPE

Utilising CLO3D digital design, 3D Avatar technology and QR Codes

This research aimed to evaluate the perceived acceptability of a re-designed sustainable PPE protective apron in an acute healthcare setting during the COVID-19 pandemic. PPE production and its disposal is quickly becoming another sustainability issue for the fashion industry which is already the second biggest polluter on the planet. This redesign incorporated the UN SDG 12th Sustainable Goal of “Responsible Consumption and Construction. “Using “Design Thinking” and action orientated “Innovation Frameworks” redesign options and prototypes were explored, and a sustainable raw material was sourced to produce a new base material for the existing apron to be manufactured locally in Manchester.

Surveys were carried out to capture clinical staff views on the garment suitability and on the sense of psychological safety associated with the re-designed apron compared to its predecessor. This work was completed virtually in a 12-week timeframe with all stakeholders as a direct result of the COVID-19 restrictions. The key findings from the wearer trial were that overall participants reported feeling more confident in the new sustainable apron design.

The team at MFI used their latest CLO3D in house digital design software to produce all the e-prototypes alongside the wearer trial instructions (including a 3D Avatar QR video) illustrated in the images below.

The project has laid the foundations for continued collaboration and further research. This project illustrates an important example of how universities in general, and Manchester Fashion Institute can use their technical and scientific expertise alongside their infrastructure to provide sustainable practical solutions to the global COVID-19 health emergency.

Project Lead

Barbara Shepherd

Barbara Shepherd

Principal Lecturer / Knowledge Exchange Lead

Project Researchers

Dr Michelle Croston

Professor Marc Jones

Technical Services team at Manchester Fashion Institute

Collaborative Partners

Duo Green



Shepherd, B , Croston, M & Jones, M. ( 2020 ) Fit for purpose’: PPE Sustainable Design Evaluation in a Clinical Setting. Paper presented at: The II International Congress on Sustainability in Textiles and Fashion – II SUSTEXMODA, held by the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo – IEA-USP, Brazil, 4-6 Nov 2020. [Online] [06/11/2020] http://www.iea.usp.br/aovivo


MAY 2020- PPE Workstream of GM Recovery Plan

As part of the Greater Manchester (GM) Covid Recovery plan, a series of working groups are being established to look in to specific themes that will be important, both in an immediate sense, but also as part of the longer-term recovery plan, leading to the “Build Back Better” approach that GM has proposed. 

Jan 2021- Now working directly with the PPE Cell appointed by the cabinet office to support UK Make in relation to future UK PPE manufacture  

COVID-19 Response – Grant application in work 


This project was funded by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (acting through the University of Manchester Academic Critical Care Research Group). 

Other Research Projects

Re-designing last seasons Manchester City Football Shirts into hospital gowns for Manchester Children’s Hospital

Prototyping, Manufacturing Technical Specifications

Project details

NHS Scrubs – Responding to the national shortage of PPE during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Producing digital graded patterns and technical production packs

Project details