Most of the world’s elite design schools like Parsons School of Design and Central Saint Martins College, need no introduction. Year after year, they educate and support a huge number of students who go on to become pioneers of the fashion industry. Recently, a university in the United Kingdom has made its mark by announcing it will be offering a different kind of fashion degree, with a focus firmly on eco and ethical considerations.
With so much consumer attention on sustainable and ethical design, it is encouraging to see study programs supporting such an important shift in the industry and mentoring the next generation of the world’s top designers.
Buckinghamshire New University has announced an undergraduate BA (Hons) Fashion Degree, commencing in September this year, which will focus on helping students study the way garments and materials are produced for fashion purposes and gain a better understanding of the associated environmental impacts. It is understood that live briefs and lectures will also form part of the teaching, to offer a more ‘realistic’ view of the fashion industry.
Course leader, Sian-Kate Mooney, herself a talented designer, is quoted in the official media release: “As part of the course we will be looking at alternative ways of the production of materials and clothing. These do exist and are being adopted slowly by all sectors of the industry, so it is important that graduates understand these issues and know about the alternative methods.
“I hope to provide the opportunity for students to study in an experimental and creative environment whilst understanding the importance of ethics and sustainability within fashion.”
Isabel Browton of famed eco friendly and ethical label People Tree, said of the announcement that it was important to not only understand the political and ethical side of fashion, but to have direct, practical experience in working with sustainable materials.
As well as providing the hands on experience, the course itself will also focus on how trend and forecasting works, visual communication, pattern making and manufacturing. At the end of the degree, students will develop a small collection and portfolio to launch them firmly into the front row of eco fashion.
Although this announcement is particularly significant as it is the first undergraduate degree in the UK to focus on sustainable fashion practice, it is certainly not the first attempt at integrating sustainability principles into tertiary curriculums. Other examples include the University of Delaware, which offers a graduate certificate in Socially Responsible and Sustainable Apparel Business and the London College of Fashion which actually set up a Centre for Sustainable Fashion, which aims to lead the way in fashion education.
Although the first tranche of students will not wander the halls until later in the year, the eco and ethical fashion industry will undoubtedly be intrigued and excited by who and what the course produces. All eyes will also be on other industry and educational institutions, to see how they may respond to supporting the next generation of socially responsible design.
Images: Buckingham New University