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We Asked the World’s Top Fashion Schools: How Are You Teaching Sustainability to Tomorrow’s Designers?

Central Saint Martins

Central Saint Martins

Image: www.arts.ac.uk/csm

Answers provided by Willie Walters, Course Director of BA (Hons) Fashion at Central Saint Martins

Is sustainability offered as a subject? Yes, as a project for 2nd Year students.  It is approached in a variety of ways such as, with an external company — among them cotton farmers in Africa, Fair Trade and ModaFusion or with a practitioner such as Orsola de Castro.  

What year did you incorporate sustainability into the curriculum? 2007

Are ethics and sustainability an active and growing area of interest at your school, among either faculty or students? ​Yes, amongst staff and students, some students take this approach through to their final degree collection — such as 2012 BA Fashion graduate, Liora Lassalle who showed with Esthetica after graduation.

Image: lioralassalle.com

Image: lioralassalle.com

How do you classify ‘sustainability’ as a practice within your school? In a variety of ways — upcycling and recycling are the most logical for the student experience as it is extremely difficult to follow ethical practise in the production of materials or labour, even for a professional. However, some students do manage to ethically source materials for their collections through personal contacts they have made during their time at college.  

Are there textbooks that specifically address ethics and sustainability in your school?  We disseminate this information through lectures and subsequent relevant texts. The comprehensive library at Central Saint Martins has a large selection of books and journals on the subject. Attached to Central Saint Martins (and its UAL sister college, Chelsea) is the Textile Futures Research Centre. TFRC hosts a community of practised based researchers who explore how materials and textiles can enable a more sustainable future.  

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