Sustainability should not be an add-on subject

Being a teacher (and an industry professional working with recent graduates) I see that most of students feel so overwhelmed with what they need to know to thrive in this highly competitive industry, adding sustainability on top of it seems to be too much.


They may understand the issues, but often feel that it doesn’t matter when they finally start working, meaning that what matters is being quick and being the best.

Many students finish their BA with a lack of knowledge on textiles and fibres, which also means it will be difficult for them to source and choose alternative materials based on the desired performance of the garments they are creating.

Their lack of interest in manufacturing also means they clear their hands from decisions on garment construction, which means this ends up decided by the manufacturers (who will make it the cheapest way), not taking into account the on-going use of the future garment, the ease of repair and its disassembly.

This means that schools have the responsibility of having sustainability has the backbone of fashion design education, not just an add-on subject and not just on Masters level. Teachers need to have it has the backbone of their discourse. And right from the first day of the BA.

Comments (3)

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How can this be improved?
Yasmina Lembachar
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  • Absolutely! My MscBA also included a separate "Business & Society" module that broached on corporate social responsibility. While eye-opening and probably one of the main drivers of my finding a job in sustainability, this was still indeed an add-on subject. I would have loved to see that translated to all other modules, from marketing and strategic management to supply chain optimisation and HR.

    How can this be improved?
    Laura Scherer
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  • Including sustainability courses to university curricula is not only an appropriate approach for fashion design studies, but might be a beneficial module for ALL university studies, be it economics, engineering or even in social sciences, where the social aspects of sustainability could be stressed.
    Indeed, the German "Hochschule Furtwangen University" has recently introduced a mandatory lecture on "sustainable management" into the curricula for all bachelor and master's degrees at their Schwenningen Campus (contact person is Prof. Kramer).
    Personally, I welcome this very much, given that I myself had been a student at that university and the "sustainable management" class (voluntary class at that time) had inspired me to launch my career in this field.

    How can this be improved?
    Iker Montes-Bageneta
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  • Hi Ana. I totally agree. The environment and sustainability should not be just subjects. It should be a continuous and transversal learning ("the backbone of fashion design education"), something that we should learn and apply in any subject