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  • Zoe Norton

What kind of fashion education is needed now?

A person working on a knitting machine

Education is the leverage point for change in societies, cultures and economies, and in a time of climate emergency, individual and systemic change in fashion is needed now more than ever. Fashion tutors have the opportunity and responsibility to be changemakers; to nurture the knowledge, skills and competencies that both challenge the damaging practices of the existing fashion system and design new systems that restore nature and equity.  

FashionSEEDS (Fashion Societal, Economic & Environmental Design-led Sustainability) is a European collaborative network of fashion universities, led by fashion design for sustainability educators at Centre for Sustainable Fashion: University of the Arts London, Politecnico di Milano, Design School Kolding and Estonia Academy of Arts. 

With the aim to develop a holistic framework for a design-led approach for fashion sustainability education, and a construct of related graduate skills & capabilities, FashionSEEDS has developed a learning resource repository and set of sustainability teaching materials which enable educators to adapt and apply the framework to a range of Higher Education Institutions. 

“Tutors play a vital role in shaping the perception and understanding of those who go on to ‘be’ the fashion sector.  We need firm ground to stand on, whilst having the ability to explore unknown territory.” – Prof. Dilys Williams

On Friday 1 and Saturday 2 October 2021, FashionSEEDS partnered with The Digital Multilogue on Fashion Education 2021conference, responding to the conference question "What kind of fashion education is needed now?" to deliver sessions that explored ways in which we can transform fashion for sustainability education, shared insights from the project’s extensive research across education and industry, as well as launching the FashionSEEDS platform of new tutor resources that will support educators in considering and applying the why, what, how and with whom of teaching fashion design for sustainability.

The event connected a network of educators to enable an urgent and evolving process of transformation of both education and of the fashion sector. By fostering mutual learning to open transnational cooperation between a broad range of tutors working in Higher Education worldwide.

Considering what to teach is often the first step when designing or updating curriculum, FashionSEEDS takes a holistic and expansive approach, offering resources to inform what we teach and tools to consider the design of how we teach. Recognising the complexity of fashion through the lens of sustainability, FashionSEEDS uses 4 pillars to define fashion’s intentions and impacts when designing products, services and systems. These pillars help us focus when considering what we teach (e.g., knowledge, data, practice) and how we teach (e.g., pedagogy, learning design, environment). 

"Initiatives such as FashionSEEDS could help support the long process of reshaping the fashion system into a more sustainable industry." – Erminia D’Itria, POLIMI

Whilst there has never been more information available or more talk about sustainability, tutors are often time poor, lack structures for developing their own sustainability knowledge and practice and have limited access to high quality, directly relevant resources created by their peers and educators in other universities. The FashionSEEDS platform has been designed to be a set of resources that tutors can return to over time as their needs and practices evolve.


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