Mindsets and shifting fashion perceptions

– Dilys Williams, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, LCF, UAL.

Contributing positively to change means imagining new systems, new narratives, new services and new products. Solutions addressing efficiency gains can only go so far. Increasingly, evidence suggests that fashion – and particularly fashion education engaged in sustainability – needs to be liberating, active, co-owned and self-determined by those involved for meaningful change to take place.

In the latest Fashion Values Method: Mindsets and Shifting Fashion Perceptions, we explore this take on fashion and sustainability. The Fashion Values Methods are short form learning resources that provide insights on fashion and sustainability. Each Method takes approximately 30-45 minutes to complete, and introduces core issues, impacts, and industry contexts for each topic.

The Method introduces eight mindsets that offer an alternative take on fashion and sustainability, through text and film interpretations by staff and students at London College of Fashion.

The mindsets embody a values-based approach, rather than a problem-based approach, foregrounded through recognising what the world needs from fashion in order to thrive. The eight mindsets inform our work in transforming fashion education and equip students and graduates with new perspectives for explorations of fashion design, business and communication:

  • Activism: The opportunity to have agency as a wearer of fashion. What does activism look like in fashion today?

  • Authenticity: Innovations in traceability, transparency, and technology – alongside traditional systems of craftsmanship and heritage.

  • Collaboration: Working across disciplines and other traditional boundaries to share knowledge and experience for a collective, holistic response to a problem.

  • Ecological Thinking: A nature-centred approach to design. Considering nature’s systems as our starting point and placing nature at the centre of all considerations.

  • Equity: Referencing issues such as labour rights in the supply chain, but also larger structures and flows of power that affect the business of fashion and fashion’s role in cultures.

  • Resilience: The opportunity to create fashion systems that are strong, stable and prosperous, whilst being ready to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

  • Resourcefulness: A positive perspective on symptoms of unsustainable behaviour, such as waste and limited access to resources.

  • Sufficiency: An antidote to the cultural epidemic of extreme consumption – both in artistic and business practice.

The Method concludes with a series of reflective questions that encourage learners to think about mindsets in the context of their personal practice. It is important to note that these mindsets are not detailed methodologies. They are explorations and modes of enquiry that can be adapted or expanded according to interpretation.

– Lou Budd, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, LCF, UAL.

The destructive nature of the current fashion system is well documented, and we know that fashion needs practical solutions and behaviour changes. But more than that, it needs a collective vision and a shift in mindsets as to what fashion is and can become, in both business and artistic practice.

This work is based on the research of Prof Dilys Williams – Founder and Director of CSF, Professor of Fashion Design for Sustainability.

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