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Stories about fast fashion, pollution and exploitation by the fashion industry are rampant in the media. We often hear that sustainability in the fashion industry is a slow process. Fortunately this certainly isn’t always the case, as plenty of attention is being devoted to sustainable fashion in fashion education. One of the schools where sustainability is high on the list of priorities is the TMO Fashion Business School. If we are to believe TMO, there’s soon going to be a large group of qualified fashion professionals who are fully trained in sustainability. A group of changemakers who will accelerate the industry’s move towards sustainability.
Students studying at the TMO Fashion Business School learn about sustainability and circularity from the moment they begin their studies. Students embark on a Fashion Awareness Project at the very start of their course. During this project, they investigate the current state of affairs in the areas of sustainable fashion, living wages, the circular economy and CSR. They do this using their own research, group debates and company visits. For example, they must investigate how often an item of clothing is worn before it’s washed and what happens to clothing which can no longer be worn or repaired. The project ensures the students themselves will become more aware of their own clothing consumption. Sustainability will make a return in every semester of the course. For instance, third year students must develop innovative business concepts where sustainability plays an important and organic role. In addition, circular & sustainable business is one of the key topics in the Research Lab course.
Students are now increasingly recognising the importance of sustainability: ‘We feel responsible for creating consumer awareness as fashion students. We want to contribute to promoting sustainability within the fashion industry and truly make a difference’, as can be read in an interview with a TMO student working on the Sustainable Fashion Week. Students are also keen to propagate this commitment. ‘A large wall will be created within the school, on which our changemakers can keep a record of their commitment to a sustainable fashion industry. We have noticed that sustainable fashion is widely supported within the school. We also see that reflected in the fashion concepts the TMO students are coming up with. This includes, for example, the clothing exchange systems, the innovative vintage ideas, reducing waste’, says TMO’s education director, Chris van Veldhuizen. ‘And TMO itself has opted to become a sustainable business school, with the central mindset that each business must act in accordance with sustainability, in terms of finance, people and the environment’.
TMO students who opt for entrepreneurship are now also increasingly ensuring they uphold sustainability as one of their company’s core values. Like the sustainable sneaker brand TRACE, for example, which can be purchased individually. The BARE clothing brand has developed a collection from food waste materials like coffee grounds and pineapple. In addition, one of our former students, Lieke van Hulsbergen recently developed a complete circular swimwear line: TET.swimwear. She first arrived at the idea during her research placement for TMO in Shanghai and her commitment to the project only increased after she saw the plastic soup in Bali with her own eyes. The slogan ‘SAVE THE OCEAN’ is therefore featured prominently on her website.
TMO student, Ades, is also fully focussed on sustainability. ‘I would absolutely love to be able to eventually launch my own sustainable clothing line and TMO has given me an excellent foundation, as well as the required knowledge about the (sustainable) fashion industry.’
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