The end of the line for fast fashion

Fri, 04 Sep 2020 10:32:00 BST
The European-wide project aims to fill a skills gap in the fashion industry
The European-wide project aims to fill a skills gap in the fashion industry

Glasgow Caledonian University will be at the forefront of a new drive to help the fashion industry end the era of throwaway clothes and embrace a sustainable future. 

The University is to lead a European-wide project to foster sustainable fashion skills and develop new business models as retailers and manufacturers adapt to the changing demands of shoppers in the wake of COVID-19.

The £300,000 initiative, which will also involve universities in France, Portugal, and Spain, has the backing of luxury brand Harris Tweed Hebrides and Tendam, one of Europe's largest retail groups. 

Funded by Erasmus+, the three-year project will aim to ensure new talent entering the fashion industry have the skills and knowledge required to champion sustainability within businesses.

Dr Lindsey Carey, principal investigator and senior lecturer in marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: "COVID-19 has brought issues around sustainability and throwaway fashion to the fore. 

"The fashion and luxury industry is in the middle of the crisis right now - no-one knows what the long-term future will look like but there is a need to change. There is a lack of understanding of what sustainability means and how to implement it. 

"There's no doubt there is a gap between what is offered by universities and what the fashion industry requires at the moment in terms of employability skills for the implementation of a sustainable approach." 

Harris Tweed, which is handwoven in the Hebrides, naturally renewable, and generates sustainable local employment, will help feed into workshops on sustainability as part of the project. The other industry partner, Madrid-based retail group Tendam, which has a turnover of more than £1billion, has been recognised by the UN Global Compact for its commitment to climate change. 

The workshops will examine everything from clothes design, manufacturing, and supply chain management to ethical practices, climate change, digital skills, and communication. 

Dr Carey added: "The great thing about this project is that we are working with partners who are on the frontline, who know how customers are reacting and can share that knowledge." 

The project will result in intensive study workshops for students and staff within the fashion industry, new teaching resources for universities and training providers across Europe, and a blueprint for how sustainability can be achieved in other sectors of the economy supported with appropriate skills and knowledge. 

GCU's university partners are Centro Universitario Villanueva, in Madrid, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Edhec Business School, in France, and Universidade da Madeira, in Portugal.