• Megan St Clair Morgan

How can collaborative units and live briefs impact the student experience?

the student winners, CSF and Kering team members stood smiling
Image: Philippe Dureuil

Since 2014 we’ve coordinated a collaborative unit with students from across London College of Fashion, working on a live brief with luxury conglomerate Kering Group. Working toward solutions using collaborative practice, we caught up with the students who were selected to present their project to Kering’s team in Paris earlier this year. Talking of their experience in the cross-discipline collaboration, as part of the unique, and first of it’s kind, opportunity for London College of Fashion’s postgraduate students. Each year, students from across LCF’s 3 schools apply to work on this industry project led by CSF’s Education team.

"It is our responsibility as educators to design learning experiences that enable students to work collaboratively, bringing together knowledge and approaches from different disciplines to push forward and transform the role of fashion. This 15 week curriculum challenges students to explore the context of our times from different perspectives, shared values and practical explorations of fashion and sustainability." – Gabrielle Miller, CSF’s Education for Sustainability Assistant & Project Coordinator
the three winners of the CU at Kering in Paris smiling
Image: Philippe Dureuil

This year’s winners who presented to Kering’s team in Paris were Rubie Striker-Goorwitch who studies MA Fashion Media Production, Dhwani Kathotia a student on MA Strategic Fashion Marketing and Camilla Cicchetti, a MA Fashion Retail Marketing student.

What prompted you to apply the Collaborative Unit project with Kering?

With the association to CSF and Kering – Camilla, Dhwani and Rubie all noted how exciting it was to learn from industry experts who are so involved in sustainability. Rubie added it was “especially appealing to me due to the direction of my final MA project”. Whilst Dhwani noted the impact of the unit structure, it “showed that there would be a lot of learning across different realms of sustainability and that was very enriching.” Noting the embedded teaching LCF offers in sustainability, Rubie said “I think we all engage with and learn about sustainability through our time at LCF”. While Camilla added – “What prompted me was my curiosity towards sustainability. As a fashion student, you come across this word almost every day at UAL which made me realise how little I truly knew about the topic.”

Coming from different specialisms, how did the mixed expertise influence and help in creating the group values and manifesto?

Dhwani: To create our group manifesto, we spent time understanding how we personally define sustainability, what we want to change in the industry and what questions we don’t have the answers to. Through this we narrowed down a common focus – throwaway culture and consumer-focused strategies by luxury brands. Coming from a marketing background, my career focus has been communicating sustainability in an effective manner to the consumer. This manifesto allowed me to further explore consumer behaviour and consumption culture. The industry perspective that we gained from the unit, allowed us to streamline our ideas in a more practical, applicable manner.

Rubie: As a MA Fashion Media Production student I spent the time understanding the core values and visuals of Kering and CSF prior to creating the manifesto, undertaking the task with a creative working approach in order to produce something aspirational and in keeping with the brands. I wanted our group to have a distinct aesthetic of our own, that complimented Kering and CSF visually and ethically, and feel this was reflected throughout as an extension of our manifesto which set the ground work for our final concept and film.

Camilla: I believe that our differences turned out to be our strongest asset for this project. In our first meeting we began by trying to discover how much each of us knew about sustainability, and what our personal areas of interest were. Having identified from the beginning that the discussion on throwaway culture was set to be the overarching focus for the project we simply broke our group values down into three words: slow, valued and mindful. These three words were inspired by the contemporary issues we identified in our areas of expertise Retail, Media and Marketing, as most impactful – such as the promotion of fast consumption in fashion.

How was it to work as part of a multi disciplinary team?

Rubie mentioned, collaborating on “all aspects, sharing and valuing each others opinions in order to produce an outcome, that not only combined our skills (utilising our individual disciplines and specialisms) but also united our values together.” Whilst it was seen as a highlight for Camilla as “working in this team was probably the best experience I had in the past academic year. Even though, initially we thought we were going to struggle since we were the smallest group within the whole unit.” Dhwani second