Article by Centre for Sustainable Fashion | Monica Buchan-Ng | 11.29.2021

How can we value fashion?

How can our economy value fashion, beyond financial gain? 

An economy is a system used to manage the resources available to individuals and communities. The global fashion economy, therefore, is a system that manages resources to create and distribute fashion, from garments to images to runway shows. It runs on the same system as the global economy – capitalism – and in doing so, reflects its narrowly-defined value system: profit. The global fashion economy values this above all else. This limited metric of success contributes to the exploitation and degradation of people and nature, perpetuating inequality and contributing to the climate emergency.  

But does it have to be this way? 

An economic system can value financial gain as well as nature, society and culture. Instead of profit, it can look to create a long-term balance between people and planet; it can provide a good quality of life and sufficient resources for all. It can acknowledge that infinite growth is incompatible with a finite planet.   

To build new knowledge, practice and ideas in reimagining fashion’s economies, Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) have created a new 4-week online course – Fashion Values: Economy. This course is freely accessible for anyone in the world, and you can take it at your own pace. You’ll encounter case studies, real-life references, radical viewpoints and creative design thinking activities. You’ll be connected to a global network of like-minded learners, including fashion students, educators, practitioners and professionals.  

Fashion Values: Economy is the second instalment of four new online courses, following the launch of Fashion Values: Nature earlier this year. The course has been conceived and developed by CSF’s education team – Prof. Dilys Williams, Nina Stevenson, Lou Budd, Liz Parker and Mina Jugovic. Contributing experts include Dr Ann Thorpe, Deepa Patel, Rochelle Porras and Patrick Elf.   Watch the course trailer on Youtube.  

 By the end of the course, you will be able to...   

  • Explore the relationship between economics, fashion, people and nature.  

  • Understand that economies are made up of different components and systems.  

  • Think creatively about how economies work and consider alternative approaches in and through fashion that nurture wellbeing for people and nature.  

  • Use design thinking to develop, prototype, evaluate and communicate a fashion economic practice that nurtures wellbeing for people and nature.  

 Fashion Values: Economy is open for study. Join the course today on FutureLearn.