08.04.2017

Leveraging Education to Create a Better Future for the Fashion Industry

An interview with Susie Forbes, Principal of the renowned Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design in London

  • Leveraging Education to Create a Better Future for the Fashion Industry
  • Leveraging Education to Create a Better Future for the Fashion Industry
  • Leveraging Education to Create a Better Future for the Fashion Industry

Before becoming the heart and soul of London's Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design, where the new generations of design and fashion professionals are educated and trained, Susie Forbes has spent over 25 years working in the fashion and media industries and she now divides her time between London and Somerset. We had a chat with her about her idea of ethical fashion, the College and creativity in general.
 
London and creativity are always associated. Do you think it is actually the most creative place in the world?
SF: I think that creativity is pretty borderless now. London remains extremely dynamic but I don’t think that one can ring fence creativity with a single city anymore – everything, everyone is global.
 
What is the role of your school within the creative industry and what is the concept and the foundation idea that drives all your choices?
SF: The role of the Condé Nast College is to grant a unique educational offering to students looking to work in the fashion industry. Our programmes are defined by academic rigour, extraordinary industry connectivity and the amazing career outcomes that result from having studied with us.
 
Ecology and green life today are exploited by many fashion companies as their most important asset, yet sometimes we feel this is more a marketing message than a true belief. What's your point of view on this? 
SF: I think that, despite the best efforts of a few very progressive companies, the majority of fashion businesses still remain pretty quiet on this issue. Let’s hope that the minority can continue to engender change among the wider majority.
 
Fashion has the biggest social and environmental impact after chemical and oil industries. An “ethical” approach to fashion is much needed nowadays, yet where do we start from? Is this up to fashion companies, political institutions or consumers? 
SF: I think it needs to be a combination of all three which, as we already know, makes the picture very fragmented.
 
Can education be another starting point for these changes?
SF: Ethics and sustainability are embedded into our core curriculum and the students are highly engaged with all of the associated issues. I do believe that their behaviours/approach as they start their careers in fashion will be far more conscientious than a lot of the generation before them.
 
With over 1,500,000,000 clothing items produced every year, fast fashion has profoundly changed the way people consume clothing items. Yet is this still working or are consumers starting to react to fast consumption?
SF: Between the students and my three teenage daughters I really notice a change in how and where they like to shop – and their preference for second-hand/thrift/charity store clothes is certainly a reaction to fast consumption. 
 
What do you think of the now very widespread phenomenon of great fashion designers creating capsule collections for mass market brands?
SF: I think that some of the collaborations are better than others but broadly speaking I feel it’s a win-win for the designers and the high street. When the trend first started there was nervousness around the idea for all parties but now there seems to be a new collaboration announced daily to it seems to have just become the new “normal”.
 
Who is Susie Forbes in her everyday life? What do you like to do in your spare time?
SF: My spare time is spent pottering about at home (in London and Somerset) with my friends, family and the world’s two most frenetic spaniels.
 
If you could start a revolution on the planet what would be the first thing you would take into consideration?
SF: I would begin by asking myself if what I am about to do is intrinsically kind to both people and the planet.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

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