TEXTILES ACTION FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: Making it Succeed in the Curriculum
Dawn Foxall (Founder Textiles Skills Centre)
This is now an online On-Demand course:
Online Course Tackling Sustainability & Climate Change & How we can deliver this through a textiles lens
This course uses presentations and materials collated for the Textiles Action For A Sustainable Future conference in June 2023. It focuses on sustainability and climate change, and how textiles education can make practical differences, using case studies approaches from businesses, NGOs and teachers.
IT’S TIME TO RAMP THINGS UP!
Textiles Skills Centre have taken on board the urgency of Climate and Environmental Sustainability! We need to become part of the Solution, not part of the Pollution!
As educators, we have been tasked to equip and empower young people with the tools to tackle the climate change challenge. Textiles Skills centre online on-demand course aims to give up-to-date information, advice and practical guidance on integrating climate education into D&T and Art & Design Textiles courses.
The focus is on the Fashion & Textiles industry and curriculum, with sustainability experts from high street clothing brands such as PRIMARK and Marks & Spencers; Designers such as Wayne Hemmingway; Climate experts from the MET OFFICE; Manufacturers and Education leaders, discussing how they are addressing the challenges of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance – standards measuring a business’s impact on society, the environment, and how transparent and accountable it is) and climate change action and how this can be integrated into the curriculum. They will be identifying and outlining how a step change in climate and sustainability education can be made, so that young people have the skills and knowledge needed for the 21st century.
Sustainability in education is being addressed by several groups and associations, including The British Educational Research Association (BERA) who published a manifesto: EDUCATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: A Guide For Schools
This guide was based on findings from a study to analyse where we are now with education for environmental sustainability, what change is needed, and the barriers to this change.
A summary of the findings showed:
- Undervaluing of environmental sustainability in government policy, budgetary constraints for schools, the nature of the curriculum and assessment.
- Prioritising economic considerations in decision-making, teacher workload, exam pressures and constraints, and insufficient confidence, knowledge and agency for all members of the school community.
Download the report HERE
WHERE TO START
Textiles, Art and Design & Technology subjects are the obvious place to start to embed understanding and knowledge of sustainability and moral values, which could be carried forward into the new generation of artists and designers. We must, however, address the current issues within the subjects of just ‘designing more stuff’ and re-educating textiles and art teachers right from GCSE through to degree level, to update the curriculum and stay connected to the needs of the textiles industry.
We know the fashion and textiles industry is one of the biggest global industries and the most resource-consuming due to its fast cycles, vast consumption, and global supply networks. The practice of sustainability within such an industry is incredibly diﬃcult, with every stage of a garment’s life cycle impacting on climate and the environment.
However, a recent study with students demonstrated there is still a lack of awareness of the full impact of the industry and understanding of what sustainable fashion actually is. When pressed further, most students focused on the repair, reuse, and recycling as their interpretation of fashion sustainability, with little consideration of ethical/social injustice involved in making garments/textile products and the impact that raw materials and resources (water, energy, etc.) had on the planet. This links to the potential barriers of consumption around price and consumers lack of awareness of the environmental impacts that enable fast fashion to be so cheaply priced.
Drapers : Sustainability and the Consumer Report 2022
The fact is that as educators we are in the perfect place to deliver this message and ensure that young people understand fully the impact of their consumption habits and change their attitudes towards consumption. Textiles, Art, Design and Technology subjects are where skills and understanding of sustainable practices can be taught.
‘Respondents believed that intervention in school curricula was the best way to educate future generations about sustainability and that having the skills to maintain longevity in clothing use was a key factor to a more sustainable fashion future.’
(Educating for Change? An investigation into consumers’ perception of sustainability and the educational drivers needed to support sustainable consumption) Kirsty Bennetta & Jemma Oeppen Hill (Sept 2021)
In 2015 the UNITED NATIONS announced the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, introducing 17 goals with the purpose of meeting the future needs of the planet.
The aim is that by 2030 the sustainable development goals will be taught in every classroom (United Nations, 2021).
Through the introduction of EBACC, limited options above KS3 in the UK were made available in schools past 2018, meaning textiles subjects were merged with Art and Design & Technology, leaving fewer opportunities for young people to understand sustainability issues and acquire vital life skills needed to upcycle or repair clothing.
Incorporating sustainability into the curriculum is the most eﬀective way to educate the future consumer. The embedding of fundamental sustainability practices from a young age is the most successful way to influence and change consumer habits – it is understood that knowledge acquired at school forms lasting habits. An understanding of the negative impacts of fashion and/or how to partake in sustainable practices would provide the future consumer the power to decide on their purchasing decisions and which ultimately aﬀects the cycle.
Eco Printing in the classroom with Fiona Balding
But it isn’t just about circular design and increasing longevity of textiles/fashion products that we can teach. As designers and creators our students can work with a host of options and opportunities to develop new products and ideas to support environmental issues, such as producing natural dyes, experimenting and growing new biomaterials, such as mycelium and creating their own textile waste action plan for school. There are numerous ways to embed the skills and messaging and a whole variety of cross-curricular activities.
If business and education act together, we can overcome the apathy of having inherited a huge problem and focus on being an active part of the solution.
Join the Textiles Skills Centre to focus on sustainability and climate change, and how textiles education can make practical and real differences.
African Fashion Exhibition @ The V&A
Julia Burrows August 2022
“Contemporary fashion creatives are shifting the geography of global fashion the vitality of the scene is irrepressible, its creativity limitless. Now, Africa fashion shares a glimpse of the glamour and politics of this influential scene that always changing always resisting definition “ V&A Museum, London
On route to our Textile Skills Centre Associate’s AGM, Dawn and I took time out to visit our favourite Museum the V&A. Having grown up in South Africa, I was particularly keen to see the exhibition on African fashion.
What are the first words that pop in to your head when you think of African fashion? For me it would be colour and diversity, this exhibition bid not disappoint.
Africa is a large continent with various cultures. It is approxmately 5,000 miles from North to South and 4,600 miles from East to West, made up of 55 countries, where some have more than one historical traditional costume and cultural past. Understandably, this exhibition cannot cover it all and which it has not attempted to do. The exhibition touches on the history, but dominantly celebrates African design and designers.
Ghana, Central West Africa
KwaZulu Natale, East Coast South Africa
Morocco, North Africa
Namibia, South West Africa
“1960 was the year of Africa. Over seventeen countries rid themselves of colonial rule and new sense of pride in being African played out through literature, music, art and fashion. The radical social and political reordering galvanised decades” V&A Museum, London
A shocking pink raffia garment by Imane Ayssi(2019), set the tone of the exhibition as you enter, followed by a brief history of African textiles.
Shade Thomas Fahm. Considered Africa’s 1st ‘Fashion Designer’
Here you also see the work of Shade Thomas Fahm, a St Martins graduate in the 1950s, who is seen as Nigeria’s 1st fashion designer.
The 2nd floor of exhibition celebrates the new African contemporary designers. Starting with the minimalist designs of Rwandan Brand Mmusomaxwell. It shows pleat fronted suiting and simple structured dress with an example of the pattern plate used for the print.
A colourful and playful combination of fabrics is a strong visual language of African fashion which can be seen under the heading Mixologist.
Kofi Ansah, for wedding of Ashley Shaw-Scott Adjaye and David Adjaye. Ghana, 2014
Printing plate and fabrics
Mmusomaxwell, Rwandan Designer
Selly Raby Kane 2017
There is a lot to see in this exhibition and my personal favourite is the multi coloured dress that for me captured Africa. From Dakar, by Selly Raby Kane from her 2017 collection.
‘Africa Fashion means the past, the future and the present at the same time. The joy of life and the joy of colour is completely different and very particular to the continent. It’s a language of heritage, it’s a language of DNA, it’s a language of memories.’ Artsi, Fashion Designer, Maison ArtC
The exhibition also celebrates the politics and poetics of cloth, through moments of political importance in the country.
The significance of how the making and wearing of particular cloths in the moment of independence became a strategic political act. Indigenous fabrics and crafts such as wax prints, commemorative cloths, àdìrẹ, kente and bògòlanfini are examples of a rich textile history from across the continent. The commemorative cloth made in the early 1990s following the release of Nelson Mandela, is featured showing a portrait of the soon-to-be first Black President of South Africa with the words:
“A BETTER LIFE FOR ALL – WORKING TOGETHER FOR JOBS, PEACE AND FREEDOM”.
I left the collection of talented and interesting designs, inspired and hoping the V&A Museum would bring us more from this often forgotten continent.
The Exhibition run until 16 April 2023 and cost £16.
Book tickets to see Africa Fashion from 2 July 2022 – 16 April 2023.
Arts week @ St. George’s 2022
Nicky Simpson – Course Leader: Textiles Skills Centre
2022, marks Nicky Simpson’s second year working with the team at Arts St. George’s. Alongside St. George’s Hospital Charity, Arts St. George’s create opportunities for patients, families, staff and the wider community to engage in creative activities and enjoy cultural experiences, helping improve the experience of being in hospital.
July 2022 marked St. George’s Arts Week and Nicky was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with the team once again. This year’s theme was ‘togetherness’ and Nicky embraced this with a visual arts collective workshop; botanical banner making, something she had only practiced recently.
Working in the busy front entrance courtyard of St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, in the beautiful sunshine, Nicky set up her heat press and it was not long before the banners started to fill up.
Nicky was really pleased to see the workshop act as a way to bring ‘together’ and unite the hospital community – patients, visitors and staff, meeting so many amazing people throughout the 2 workshop days, and they all had a story to tell.
‘I loved seeing everyone’s faces light up when they realised they could create something beautiful, so easily and so quickly. They all particularly enjoyed the fact that they had been part of an artwork collective, a new idea to most!’
Five banners were created over the 2 days, and these were used as a backdrop throughout the rest of St. George’s Arts Week on the community stage where other forms of art, music and dance were enjoyed.
Grace Lindley, Arts Coordinator at St. George’s Hospital Charity said: “We are so grateful to Nicky for leading these incredible workshops. The collective banner marking was especially fitting with our theme of togetherness. Overall, it was a brilliant week, which used arts and creativity to celebrate and highlight the interconnectivity of our hospital community, and how we support each other, day in, day out, at St George’s.”
Benedict Johnson Photography
Future Sustainable Fashion Solutions
Dawn Foxall – Textiles Skills Centre, May 2022
“If you want to really learn textile and fashion skills and experience garment manufacturing in the UK, then come to Fashion Enter – this is now the ONLY place to visit and learn. We run regular school visits whereby we encourage students and pupils to have a go at the very latest technologies, both in print and manufacturing. It’s time to stop that negativity towards speed of response fashion!’ Jenny Holloway, CEO Fashion Enter Ltd.
Post covid and 2 years of PPE making, the fashion and textiles industry is back on track to push the climate change issue that is the elephant in the room of clothing manufacture.
The biggest problem is decades of fast fashion which has ingrained in our psyche, making clothes shopping a habit that needs kicking.
Perhaps this post covid recession and the onset of higher energy prices, will start to alleviate the stigma of not having a new top every time we go out, and instilling some real urgency from the industry into find new ways of more sustainable and less energy use in manufacturing.
Technology is definitely showing us the way, with ideas that began their infancy in the 1990’s. Innovative methods of manufacturing now include on-demand digital fashion and textile production technologies from companies such as a worldwide market leader Kornit Digital Ltd.
Watch video: https://vimeo.com/680325879
Kornit Digital recently joined forces with Fashion-Enter Ltd – a social enterprise in North London, which has manufacturing and an academy on-site – and announced a first-of-its-kind Fashtech Innovation Centre in London.
Aiming to bring on-demand fashion and textile mass customisation back to the UK, the Centre is fully supported by Kornit Digital’s revolutionary, direct-to-fabric and direct-to-garment digital production solutions.
30% of textile manufacturing is attributed to overproduction and 95% to water waste, Kornit’s technologies are transforming the industry with more efficient and sustainable processes. The Company’s systems boasting up to 95% less water, 94% less energy and 83% less greenhouse gas emissions, minimising the carbon footprint.
The systems in place at FashTec Centre include direct-to-fabric and direct-to-garment systems, as well as numerous graphic design and workflow tools to enable cut-and-sew operations. These machines enable a designer to print their chosen artwork/designs either as fabric, or a placement print, such as T-shirt printing and have the garments cut and manufactured on-site.
The Centre now serves as a prototype for brands and designers seeking to alleviate logistical complexities and long lead times, by bringing production nearer to the end consumer. This will ultimately eliminate overproduction, with the ability to produce on demand, contribute to local economies and remove transport-related waste.
“This Innovation Centre makes it possible to capture the full, end-to-end production process in one, single location. The beauty of having print on demand means there are no minimums, so we can make one garment, or we can make up to 30,000 garments a week from all locations at the same fixed cost. Here, we can also train future generations on the right way of producing garments for today, responsive to demand, with minimal waste—ethical and sustainable. This is the future of fashion and textiles.”
Jenny Holloway, CEO, Fashion-Enter.
If you’re interested in scheduling a visit to the Fashtec Centre located on
Crusader Estate, 167 Hermitage Road, London
N4 1LZ, please contact: email@example.com
Feedback From the Classroom: Cross Curricular Free Resources
After attending a fantastic Textiles Skills Centre ‘Tea ‘n’ Chat’ lead by Nicky Simpson, on Cross-curricular links, I decided it was time to spread Textiles throughout my school! Nicky had explained how it was important to be seen in departments other than your own, so I decided to team up with the maths department to create a new and exciting display wall.
Using student work created from the free Scheme of Work provided by the Textiles Skills Centre we adorned the walls.
With “Geometry in Fashion” as a starting point, students took a selection of shapes and created a fashion costume illustration, the outcomes were fantastic!
After completing one display board – which the Maths teacher was very happy for me to do – I decided to tackle another department. I visited the computing department where I completed an ICT (now IT) board for product design students!
The free resources really inspired me & have given me new ways of raising awareness around the school, not least forgetting the school reception!
You can find this resource and all the other free resources on the Textile Skills Centre website
FREE RESOURCE: Cross Curricular Learning – Textiles Skills Centre