Fashion Business A and Fashion Business B bring sustainability into the core of the modules. Students learn about innovative sustainable design in Fashion Business A and begin to put it into practice throughout Fashion Business B.
What was the programme or module?
Fashion Business A (FBUY2002) and Fashion Business B (FBUY2003) are two part modules, which follow on from one another. They are taught to around 90 level 5 students on the BA (Hons) Fashion Buying course.
Overview: Fashion Business A explores the product development process through product design innovation and sustainability. Students learn the importance of protecting innovative ideas through Intellectual Property Law by studying contemporary issues and real-life examples in Fashion Business.
Fashion Business B expands on the concepts of product innovation, bringing in elements of Entrepreneurship. Students develop their own innovative and sustainable product ideas and (theoretically) bring the product to market by way of a synthesised business project. The result is an industry ready original business plan with financial, marketing and product strategies, as well as a pitch deck presentation by the students to communicate their product idea in return for (theoretical) investment.
Context: Sustainability is introduced initially by way of docu-film ‘River Blue’ whereby I substitute a formal lecture with a cinema style experience – all students watch River Blue in the lecture theatre and I supply popcorn.
Description: After the students have watched River Blue, we have 2 x 1 hour seminars to discuss the impact of sustainability on the fashion industry, exploring moral dilemmas and responsibilities.
Students are encouraged to develop their arguments within a report, whereby they choose an innovative product which is currently on the market and critically analyse the level of sustainability of that product. They are encouraged to consider the product materials, country of manufacture, supply chain and method of transport from factory to store. Analysing sustainability is a weighted component within the marking rubric.
Moving on from this, in Fashion Business B, the students are required to think of their own sustainable and innovative original product idea, bringing together what they have learned about sustainability from the first module and putting it into practice. Again, sustainability is a weighted component within the business plan.
Evaluation: This has worked really well and student feedback has been very positive about the modules in general and the element of sustainability – they like putting what they have learnt into practice.
By analysing how big companies approach sustainability, and being asked to provide recommendations for future development, the students are aware that more can be done – it doesn’t matter how large the retailer is – there is always room for improvement.
Students are inspired to think about their own sustainability strategies within product development, packaging and marketing including the ethical responsibilities which an entrepreneur has to the consumer and their supply chain.
Next Steps: I will continue to make sure sustainability is included within the modules going forward.
“By focussing on one or two relevant SDGs and exploring them in more depth within the modules, my students feel like they can really learn how to make a difference” – Fiona Bailey
Why are the SDGs important to this subject?
The SDGs are important because this matter is only going to get bigger and more prevalent. The most relevant SDGs to this module are SDG 9, industry, innovation and infrastructure and SDG 12, responsible consumption and production.
“My students look at the sustainability practices of large fashion retailers and make recommendations as to how they can improve. This enlightens the students’ to the fact there is still a lot of work to do, but also inspires them that they could be key to the sustainable future of these brands.” – Fiona Bailey
What would you recommend to colleagues considering adopting a similar approach?
The students really liked the cinema style delivery of the thought provoking docu-film, they liked how it was embedded in the timetable and that they didn’t have to watch it in their own time.
Contact: Fiona Bailey, Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) Fashion Buying and Programme Leader BA (Hons) Fashion Management
0116 250 6507
This post is one of a series of case studies describing teaching and learning activities linked to the SDGs at DMU.