In partnership with Condé Nast, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) a Research Centre of the University of Arts London held a Masterclass using the newly developed Sustainable Fashion Glossary with students and graduates from Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design.
It was a rainy afternoon, in November 2019, when we arrived at the prestigious Adelphi Building in central London. Upon exiting the elevators inside, we were taken through the offices of Condé Nast and into, presumably, a large meeting room. Full of various-shaped modern chairs aimed at a projector screen. We quietly took a seat and waited anxiously to hear how the rest of the day would unfold.
The Importance of Sustainability
I was eager to learn more about the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and was very interested to hear more about their work and mission to drive forward sustainable change to improve the fashion industry. The team immediately began explaining how a sustainable future would improve our lives and directly challenge the current culture that sees excessive patterns of consumption within fashion. Introducing the then under development Sustainable Fashion Glossary of core sustainability issues and concepts, CSF, is striving to share a message through the proposed terms to produce a guide for improving sustainable fashion content in the future.
Our tasks as current students and recent graduates was to explore the connections of media, sustainability and fashion by giving culturally diverse constructive feedback on how using the editorial glossary has assisted us in developing a proposed short-form content piece for one of Condé Nast title’s digital channels.
The Workshop Filled Day
Separating into pairs, my MA Fashion Communication programme cohort, Saffron and I, sat down at a nearby table within the meeting room overlooking the Thames. Whilst we unpacked the sustainable fashion media brief we would share, we settled on British Vogue’s Instagram channel as our platform of choice.
In building a glossary for better terminology on sustainability and larger positive impacts occurring, the masterclass focused on us creating content around trends or issues that mattered to us. Or, what we felt audiences of our chosen brand should know. The glossary was on hand to be used as a guide in assisting us with our work and giving us the confidence needed around eco-friendly terminology no matter what level of knowledge we currently had about the subject. A vital point of the class and research behind the purpose of the day for CSF, as I, appreciate the significance of sustainability but felt I did not have the proper understanding of all concepts to be in charge of sharing content on the matter of sustainable processes in fashion.
Flipping through the pages of the glossary, we decided together that we both have a love for animals. This led us to choose wool as our topic; sharing the ethical importance of damage concerning the impact of fashion and animal welfare.
Crafting an Instagram mockup post, our goal was to use the glossary as a backbone highlighting our concerns. Specifically, we wanted to share how wool is often left out of the discussion on fabrics of fashion with most focus concerning leather and other furs. Yet, wool can also have a negative impact on the environment when it comes to collecting from sheep. Our research and use of the glossary informed us that wool is not always the more ethical choice even though we may think it is since the animal is not being killed.
Results of Work and Feedback
As the day came to an end, we presented our concepts and rationale for choosing Instagram as our digital channel by the fact that it reaches a much wider audience. For the content and post itself, a four image carousel was used with previous photoshoots highlighting fashion and sheep as it portrayed a sort of dream sequence or fantasy. Our images were fitting for the essence of British Vogue, while our in-text’s purpose was to educate the audience in a way that does not offend or scare readers. But, rather to inform and inspire the community of fashion-loving people with building better and more sustainable journeys as we all work toward being a part of the change of a more environmentally friendly future.
With the day coming to a close, I felt the purpose of the glossary could have a positive impact for individuals and brands as they look to navigate improving their businesses and informing others about the impact of the fashion industry for the future. I believe using the glossary for myself allowed me to understand the terms I was unfamiliar with to better assist in my research for building a larger and more profound picture that I now felt more confident in sharing about the importance of sustainability.
By Heather Texter, MA Fashion Communication