Be at the cutting edge of innovative and sustainable fashion by setting your sights on the courses at the California College of Arts.
The prospects of studying fashion have never sounded better, as now you can fulfill your dreams of designing clothes for the sustainably-minded fashionistas around the world. The California College of Arts is adamant about teaching the type of design that questions the needs of our current daily lives and societal measures of success by exploring alternatives and cutting across disciplines to come up with innovative design solutions. As one of the most destructive, natural resource exploiting, cheap labor abusing industries on the planet today, fashion doesn’t seem like a natural choice for today’s conscious scholar. But what if you were given the chance to turn it all around? The BFA degree in Fashion Design at the CCA has increasingly been providing students with skills for sustainable thinking, making it one of the universities at the forefront of providing sustainable fashion design education. With the input of long-time researcher and professor of sustainable fashion, Lynda Grose, the course has been recognized for producing fashion designers and industry members that are implementing sustainability into the world of fashion through fantastically progressive ventures.
The fashion industry affects everyone worldwide, and the unsustainability of it is articled in each part of its production process. How can that be changed? How will people demand less of the types of products that are deemed unsustainable? The fashion design course at the CCA questions these factors whilst teaching students integral fashion design skills, such as pattern cutting, drape, use of equipment and finishing. This way, graduates are ready for both conventional and progressive methods in fashion, and thus are able to enter the fashion industry or follow their own creative paths upon leaving university. The College aims to “prove that the new thinking need not compromise beautiful clothing and craftsmanship” as chair of the fashion design department, Amy Williams, asserts.
The CCA courses that focus on sustainable practices for fashion design incorporate practical projects including zero-waste pattern cutting and repurposing of recycled materials alongside theoretical sessions that explore topics of consumption, life-cycle assessment and ecological impacts. Exposing students to such a wide range of current issues conveys the College’s aim is to push industry boundaries further, preparing students for careers that can address the gaps in the market or help existing companies develop responsibly. Alumni have gone on to succeed at sustainability ventures and companies such as the SF Incubator Group, Levi’s, Rogan Jeans, Badgley Mischka and Alabama Chanin.
Cross-disciplinary projects are also an integral part of fashion design education at CCA, as scientists and practitioners with their own sustainable fashion ventures have actively collaborated with students at the College. For example, the issue of water consumption has been introduced as a topic for informing design work, and scientists are brought in to the classroom to present their area of interest to students in order to give them a new perspective. Rebecca Burgess of the Fibershed Project has also collaborated with the fashion design students, speaking at Local Fiber Incubator classes, and featuring the work of several students on the Fibershed Marketplace. The entire College has a strong background in sustainability education, as students can choose to follow an ‘eco-track’ in certain classes, and projects with a scientific focus cut across the disciplines of fashion, fine art, architecture and writing, to name a few.
As fashion professor Lynda Grose says: “The course is not an indoctrination into sustainability, but rather a continuum where every student finds a place. They learn how to know where they are, and where they would like to be.” The ultimate aim of the BA Fashion Design course is to provide students with skills for adapting to different options within the field of fashion, also allowing them to pursue their personal projects and ideas for progressive design solutions. Grose hopes to demonstrate to students other ways “of approaching fashion, and how…designers as a collective start to build many narratives for fashion and sustainability that complement the one dominant narrative that is presented by large business and technical approaches.”
All images courtesy of California College of Arts.