London Leaders

“We launched the London Leaders programme in 2007 to catalyse change – the kind of change that we need to tackle London’s most ingrained problems.

In December 2008 we announced our second group of inspiring London Leaders from organisations and communities across the capital.”

Here is what I wrote for London Leaders

Since its foundation just over a century ago, London College of Fashion has witnessed great changes in the fashion industry. It has seen fashion become a cornerstone of many world economies. The clothing industry is now worth over $1 trillion worldwide and ranked the second biggest global economic activity for intensity of trade. Yet the pressures of climate change and ethical concerns about how goods have been produced, coupled with a growing realisation that consumption dominates too many lives means that the college is debating how it can help shape an industry to minimise its effect on the environment. We want to combine the creativity, knowledge and enthusiasm of staff and students with the experience and latest thinking in the fashion industry and in science and technology.

This year’s college conference organised by our Centre for Sustainable Fashion, was an opportunity for us to have an open dialogue with staff, about how we might meet the challenge of fashion addressing sustainability and climate change. The conference showcased opinion and research from a range of thinkers and activists. Paul de Zylva, commissioner for the London Sustainable Development Commission and director of Friends of the Earth England, discussed the bigger picture of sustainability in our society, positioning the creative sectors as pivotal in being able to effect consumer change. University of the Arts London deputy rector Will Bridge outlined the work to date on estates and resources – a challenging journey given the college’s many disparate sites across London. Cultural theorist and commentator Angela McRobbie discussed the university as a centre of knowledge; a crucial contact zone where information is shared and new forms of research are developed. London College of Fashion staff also heard about teaching and learning strategies for sustainability in fashion from Hannah Higginson of Fashioning an Ethical Industry.

Alongside these speakers, the audience took part in a knowledge café to share thoughts and experiences on sustainability as individuals, teams and as a college. A high spirited and diverse group of staff contributions were staged through a pecha kucha session, where each speaker had just six minutes and forty seconds to share their own work or thoughts on sustainability in fashion. The day was concluded by Dr Kate Fletcher, Reader in sustainable fashion who shared her positive and uplifting observations from the day.

The consensus is that London College of Fashion has a responsibility to teach a practice that is considerate to the world that hosts us, yet allows us to promote the power and positive elements of fashion. Our duty is to develop our educational practices combining them with new knowledge that respects and adapts to our worlds imperative needs.

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