Centre for Sustainable Fashion | Charley Copperthwaite | 11.14.2023

How can fashion value cultures of wellbeing? Launching the 2023 Fashion Values Challenge

“It matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with…what knots knot knots, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds because that’s how worlds make stories.” – Donna Haraway

We have just launched the 2023 Fashion Values Challenge – an open call out to global changemakers to explore the question: How can fashion value cultures of wellbeing? We’re looking for applications that respond to this question through the lens of design, media and/or technology which demonstrate innovative, radical ways to transform the industry into one that celebrates culture and practices of wellbeing.

This year’s central theme was introduced at the 2023 Global Fashion Summit at our Fashion Values Showcase event. During this event, Dilys Williams (Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion) opened the conversation with the acknowledgement that “culture was only officially recognised as an element of sustainability relatively recently...and yet it is an integral part of how we identify ourselves through fashion. Fashion is as much a cultural experience as it is a material one.”

However, fashion as an industry is often exclusive, with a lack of equal representation and inclusion. The resulting power imbalances perpetuate issues of cultural appropriation and the persistence of aesthetic hierarchies. These mainstream western approaches of extraction and exploitation are not going solve the fashion crisis, and therefore the industry needs new, innovative ideas from changemakers like you.

Through your ideas, we can transform the fashion system into one that recognises how identities, traditions and heritage can create a culture of social and environmental wellbeing. We want you to think outside the box and take a radical approach to the Challenge, applying your creative expression and critical thinking to develop solutions that will help build a more positive fashion system – one which serves all people, cultures and conditions of life.

We’ve noted some possible considerations below as inspiration for your application:

  • Wellbeing involves social, gender, racial, intergenerational, and more-than-human rights (rights that represent all life on earth, both human and non-human).

  • Culture is about ‘ways of life’: customs, beliefs, and rituals; codes of manners; taking place in communities and institutions.

  • Cultures communicate identities, meanings, knowledge, an articulation of values, aspirations, memories, attitudes, and understandings of the world.

  • Cultures can connect or alienate… How can cultures respect a shared humanity through fashion?

The Fashion Values programme provides tools and resources, including Voices, Methods and open-access online courses to help inspire you to develop your ideas into real-life solutions in response to the 2023 Fashion Values Challenge Brief. We strongly recommend that you start with participating in the Fashion Values: Cultures course to support you with ideating ways to contribute to equitable, inclusive and diverse cultures in and through fashion. The course acts as a foundation for you to develop visions for the future of fashion that put planetary and human health and wellbeing first, reflecting the diversity of existing and future fashion cultures. All those interested in applying will also have access to a portfolio advice session facilitated by Centre for Sustainable Fashion, so please stay tuned for more information, as we will be publishing details on this soon.

If you are interested in applying, download the Fashion Values Challenge Brief for more information on the process. There are two categories for the Challenge:

Emergent Creatives: current students and recent (within 1 year) graduates.

Professional Creatives: small business enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The deadline for applications is Monday 29th January 2024 at midday (UK time).

Winners will be awarded a funded invitation to the Global Fashion Summit, including the CSF Fashion Values showcase event, in Copenhagen in May 2024. This includes tickets to the Summit, travel, and accommodation. This includes costs around accessibility needs for winners attending the summit. Winners will also be selected for the Fashion Values Mentorship Programme with an industry leader. Additionally, the student winner will be granted a place as part of the Fashion Values x Global Fashion Agenda’s 2024 Next Gen Assembly, which will include further opportunities and activities.

Keep your eyes on the platform for more voices on the Challenge and insights on this year’s central theme!