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Fashion Education for Sustainability: Kering

The forming of a synergistic relationship between two or more people depends on an acknowledgement of the distinctions of each alongside shared hopes and ambitions. Kering and London College of Fashion, through CSF, have made a five year commitment together to explore and expand the contribution that fashion can make to individual lives, to communities and our wider cultures and societies through design led educational and business practices for sustainability.

Since commencing our partnership in 2014, we have been finding new ways of working across a diverse and rich network of BA & MA students, with expert colleagues at Kering and with many of their luxury fashion brands. This partnership is challenging what we at the CSF know of how fashion deals with the unstable terrain of sustainability. We have established a level of communication with our partners based on trust and openness, co-creation and innovation, and this is playing out in multiple guises through our collaborative projects: The Kering Award for Sustainability; and the Kering masters level curriculum module Empowering Imagination. These projects are underpinned by our developing research framework for Fashion Design for Sustainability, led by Professor Dilys Williams.

The ambition of our collaboration is to offer space for the development of ideas that might, in the words of François-Henri Pinault, ‘change the way we do business’. We have the pleasure of connecting with esteemed alumni from LCF who are forging new roles within the luxury fashion sector, and hope that we continue to challenge industry with students and graduates equipped with new skills and perspectives for a future subject to great change.

We hope that this partnership will contribute, through those involved, to fashion’s artistic and business practices being a means to fulfil our unique potential as human beings through an understanding of nature, ourselves and each other.

The plan with Kering is three-fold: an annual lecture – The Kering Talk; The Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion; and a co-created masters level curriculum – Empowering Imagination.

Watch the story of Year 1 of the partnership:

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The Kering Talk

The Kering Talks bring together a range of voices that speak of the ingenuity that might transform our current ways of living towards more equitable, fulfilling and truly prosperous ways to live and to be.

The inaugural Kering Talk was delivered by François-Henri Pinault and Professor Frances Corner at London College of Fashion in October 2014 marking the first of a series of annual talks to and with fashion industry professionals, students, journalists and specialists from other disciplines.

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The second Kering Talk saw 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater welcomed to London College of Fashion in November 2015 to discuss Outerknown, his menswear brand that is dedicated to sustainability and innovation. The Talk also provided the platform to award the prizes to the winners of the first year of the Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion.

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The Kering Award for Sustainability in Fashion

Alexander McQueen A/W 15

The Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion, now in its third year, is an incredible opportunity for students to develop and hone their skills in relation to sustainability, as well as work closely with industry partners from Kering and luxury brands.

The Award is open to all final year BA and Masters students, and students can apply to work with one of two of Kering’s luxury fashion brands. The proposals are then developed with the help of mentors from the London College of Fashion, Kering and the brands, and the final projects are presented to a jury of esteemed judges at Kering’s London offices. The prizes recognize innovation in fashion & sustainability (a cash sum of €10,000) and collaboration (a paid internship at the brand).

In 2015, students developed projects for Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. In 2016, we worked with Brioni and Stella McCartney.

The third year of the Award will be starting this term, and we are delighted to announce that we are working with Stella McCartney for the third time, and Gucci!

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Transforming Fashion Education

Work by MA Fashion Futures student Fiona Fung

Crucial in bringing about demonstrable change is education that places the interdependencies between society, economy, ecology and culture within the learning framework. Education offers not only knowledge generation but also nurtures the skills and aptitudes needed for graduates to take on roles as agents for change, inspired to act now to do better now and simultaneously for the future.

“Sustainability should not be at the margins of the educational system but integrated into the core of our approach.” François-Henri Pinault

LCF students from across all the schools at Masters level can apply to be part of the Kering collaborative unit, Empowering Imagination. Through co-creating curriculum we are working to create a new kind of fashion graduate who can support sustainable practices and innovation within the industry and push for change. The 15-week module draws on research based on sustainability principles such as holism, empathy and resilience using a range of ecological and social design methods, underpinned by the experience of practical and visionary interventions that Kering has been developing through its brands.

Over the past two years, CSF and Kering have worked with 75 students across 13 MA and MSc courses at LCF. This approach is ground breaking in bringing together students from across disciplines to pioneer a change in practice for the fashion industry, with expert insight from Kering, CSF researchers and a selection of outside organisations. We will continue to enhance and develop this unit to embed validated sustainability teaching and learning into curriculum at LCF across the five-year partnership.

Read more about the education side of the partnership in ‘Transition to Transformation in Education for Sustainability‘ by Dilys Williams