An education in sustainable fashion
OK so I’ve never been massively academic – I guess you can assume as much seeing as I just used the phrase “massively academic”, but over the last year or so I’ve had a craving more some extra knowledge! I love blogging about vegan and ethical fashion as I get to do a load of research for each piece and I enjoy finding out new things along the way. Someone recommended Future Learn to me and I am now on my 3rd online course!
The course I’m currently taking is ‘Fashion and Sustainability’ from the London College of Fashion (LCF), in partnership with Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Kering, a global luxury group. I’m now on week 2 (a bit behind but I’ll catch up) and after going through the introductions to the course and teachers it has now begun to go through the main agendas in sustainable fashion. I’ve learned that the four main agendas are Social, Economic, Ecological and Cultural and that for a designer or brand to truly consider themselves to be working sustainably, they need to have considered and factored in all four of these agendas.
I’m loving the videos included in the course with Dilys Williams (Director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion) and Marie-Claire Daveu (Chief Sustainability Officer at Kering). Dilys talks about the responsibility that designers have to produce sustainable collections and to ‘go deeper’ in their thought processes around the ideas and purposes of their designs. Marie-Claire brings up the point that luxury designers may have an even bigger responsibility to encouraging sustainable practices, as they are at the top of the fashion hierarchy (apart from Haute Couture) where the styles then trickle down to bridge brands, then to diffusion lines (e.g. Love Moschino – a less expensive line within the Moschino brand) and then to high street brands and then to economy brands (think Tesco’s F+F collections). I found this handy infographic below that helps explain the hierarchy (please ignore the horrific spelling mistakes on it - I did not make this!)
Dilys goes on to say that she was shocked to find out that over the span of her career “300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to the cotton cycle”, which made her realise the part she plays in these issues and rethink her use of cotton in her collections she designed. She had also learned about the damage that cotton production was doing, the Pesticides draining into rivers and streams, causing disease and environmental destruction to the areas with cotton farming and factories.
What’s great about this course is that it’s addressing sustainability from several angles and not just focussing on the environmental side, I think this is needed for people to get a real understanding of what sustainable fashion has to include.
The fashion industry used to have two seasons, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, we now have 52 "micro-seasons" within a single year (although no amount of research could tell me what these seasons were). The aim of this is that fast fashion encourages you to buy, as much as you can as quickly as you can, regardless of whether you 'need' it or not. This has distorted our view on what clothes are for and I feel we’ve lost a lot of the art behind fashion.
What I’m struggling with, and am hoping I will find out during this course, is how can we make "luxury fashion more equal for everyone involved in its practice", when most of the people who work in the luxury fashion industry are not paid to the same level as the top executives, designers and advertisers. How can we expect the fashion industry to ever be fair and equal when there is still such a mammoth wage gap amongst the workers?
Anyway, I don’t want to spoil too much of the content for those of you thinking about taking part! I’ll check back in with you guys at the end of the course but for now, head over to Future Learn to find out more about this and all the other courses they provide – it’s great to have a little side-education going on, and even better to stay up-to-date with the latest advice and statistics in sustainable fashion!