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New Programs to School Fashion Students on Sustainability

The London College of Fashion (LCF) wants its students to build a more sustainable fashion future.

With that in mind, it has partnered with Common Objective (CO), a free-to-join “intelligent” business platform that supplies its members with the tools, resources and connections to grow their businesses in ways that benefit both people and planet.

“At LCF we are dedicated to achieving greater transparency in sustainability for fashion and like CO, we’re working towards an industry which creates jobs, prosperity and great products that do not damage the environment,” the school, a constituent college of University of the Arts London (UAL), wrote in a statement. “When education and business work together, it can be a powerful force for change—which is why this partnership is such a natural fit.”

The school will encourage more than 5,000 of its staff and students to create profiles on the network, “catalyzing their ability to integrate sustainability into all areas of their university work and as they move into their professional careers,” LCF said, before noting the opportunity will eventually be extended to all 20,000 UAL students across its six colleges.

Moreover, MA Fashion Futures students will receive full access to all of CO’s premium, subscription-based content, including data-driven research highlighting the best sustainable practices and innovations.

Launched this year by Tamsin Lejeune, founder and CEO of the Ethical Fashion Forum, the CO website boasts more than 7,500 fashion industry members from over 100 countries, including brands such as Levi Strauss, Roland Mouret, Kering Group and Vivienne Westwood and organizations such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, Fashion Revolution and the World Fair Trade Organisation. The platform is chaired by British fashion entrepreneur Harold Tillman, the former head of Jaeger, and himself an LCF alumnus.

The collaboration dovetails with the 10-year anniversary of the LCF’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), a leading voice in the sustainability movement that has not only helped the school incorporate sustainability into its curriculum but has set agendas for government and business stakeholders as well. 

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In addition, Tillman is kick-starting a five-year commitment with the CSF to fund an annual student research project, the outcomes of which will be shared with industry, students and media.

LCF and CO aren’t the only ones looking to equip the next generation of fashion designers with the skills they’ll need for a changing planet.

British designer Stella McCartney recently announced the creation of a new foundation that will address, among other things, the sustainability “gaps” in design-school curriculums.

“I have spent a lot of time with [McCartney] in design schools and have noticed, around the world, there is not a lot of talk about sustainability,” Claire Bergkamp, worldwide sustainability and innovation director at Stella McCartney, said at the Textile Exchange conference in Milan last week. “[As part of the new foundation], we want to work globally with design programs to bridge that gap.”

Equipping fashion students with the right set of values before they graduate could create a powerful impact since creative directors often “set the tone” for the brands they manage, Bergkamp said.

“We are genuinely trying to empower the next generation of designers with knowledge and skills around sustainability,” she added.