New centre to promote sustainable fashion

It is an industry that is often more readily associated with capitalism, conspicuous consumption and fears about exploitation of cheap labour in the developing world.

But the fashion industry is stepping up its efforts to be more ethical and sustainable with the opening of the London-based Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF).

The centre, part of the London College of Fashion, was officially launched on Tuesday to provide a focal point for the fashion industry to develop and share expertise on sustainability and environmental issues.

CSF chiefs hope the centre will also help them to educate and support a new generation of green collar graduates and influence the international fashion industry.

Dilys Williams, the CSF’s director for sustainable fashion, said: “People can come to us from all aspects of industry and education and we can help all of those involved in sustainable fashion to be signposted to each other.

“We’ve heard the saying ‘necessity is the mother of innovation’. We are in a place of necessity but we are also in a place of fantastic opportunity.”

Journalist and presenter of The Clothes Show Caryn Franklin has been appointed ambassador of the CSF.

Speaking at the launch, she said: “If we are not able to make changes through innovation at student level, when are we able to make them?”

“If the London College of Fashion is churning out all these amazing innovators from the off, and they all go out into industry and dictate a change, that’s bloody marvellous.”

Dr Frances Corner, head of the college, said the fashion industry – and the college itself – did not always have a perfect track record on ethical and environmental issues, but society had to focus on finding solutions, not picking holes.

She said: “This is a very difficult and complex issue and there’s no easy way out of it. I think we need to realise nobody’s perfect.”

The college is starting a new MA Fashion and the Environment course this autumn, and the CSF will hold its first annual conference in October.

People in the UK buy on average one third more clothing now than they did four years ago – with fashionistas taking home an average of 35kg of new garments per person in a single year. About 80% of these clothes end up in landfill.

Kate Martin

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