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GCU, Harris Tweed and Brooks Brothers to put sustainable fashion in the spotlight

04 April 2014

The story of two high-profile heritage fashion brands – one Scottish, one American – will be the focal point of Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) first ‘Town Hall’ meeting – one of a series of events being held to mark the opening of the University’s New York campus.

The ‘Town Hall’ approach sees academics and professionals collaborating with students and industry experts to encourage new learning. The first event in the GCU New York Town Hall, ‘Fashion Sharing Progress’ series, will combine the expertise of the GCU British School of Fashion, launched last year, with the knowledge and experience of cloth-manufacturer Harris Tweed Hebrides and Brooks Brothers, the Madison Avenue-based clothier which has used the renowned Scottish fabric in its designs for more than 80 years.

Harris Tweed Hebrides Creative Director Mark Hogarth and Chairman Brian Wilson will be joined by Brooks Brothers Senior Fabric Specialist Doug Shriver and around 100 guests at the event on Tuesday, April 8. Mr Hogarth is a GCU alumnus while Mr Wilson – a former UK Trade Minister – is a Visiting Professor in GCU’s Glasgow School for Business and Society. The debate will be moderated by Nick Sullivan, the Fashion Director of Esquire magazine in the US.

The role Harris Tweed has played in sustaining communities in the Scottish islands, while simultaneously reinventing itself as an in-demand fabric used by high-fashion houses such as Chanel and Galliano, will introduce a wider discussion on the industry, sustainability and ethical supply chains. Brooks Brothers is one of the oldest men’s clothier chains in the United States and is headquartered in Manhattan.

Mr Hogarth said: “It is great to see our fellow Scottish institution GCU with a presence in New York. Like the University, we at Harris Tweed Hebrides feel passionately about the ethics of the textile industry and encouraging the debate about the ethics of production is something that we enthusiastically support.”

The University launched the GCU British School of Fashion in 2013. This creative educational hub nurtures and supports new management talent for one of the world’s most dynamic and highly-competitive industries, worth £26 billion a year to the UK economy alone. The ‘Town Hall Meeting’ format is a way of building on that expertise to explore ideas and encourage debate and public participation.

Cara Smyth, Vice President of GCU New York, said: “GCU is dedicated to its mission of being a university for the common good. Town Hall Meetings will welcome presentations by thought leaders, offer a space for conversation and divergent thinking, and look to provide the stimulus for action and new solutions by highlighting the issues.
“The first of our multi-part series, ‘Fashion Sharing Progress’, will focus on what the apparel industry is doing to create positive change in the world. Topics such as sustainable profits with social and environmental responsibility, ethical supply chain management and social business development will be among those discussed.”

An exhibition of 30 images taken on the Outer Hebrides by photographer Ian Lawson, whose collection ‘From The Land Comes The Cloth’ won the Best British Book at the 2013 British Book Design and Production Awards, will accompany the event.

It will be the first time the photographs, which capture the landscapes that have produced the cloth for hundreds of years, have been exhibited outside of the Outer Hebrides.