Article by Centre for Sustainable Fashion | Charley Copperthwaite | 12.01.2022

Struggling with the Challenge brief? Insights from the Fashion Values 2022 Big Welcome Event

Are you thinking of submitting a proposal for the 2022 Fashion Values Challenge but are struggling with the brief? Do you have ideas but are finding it hard to conceptualise them? Why not have a read of our round up on the Fashion Values Big Welcome Event – this can help you develop an approach to the brief, and see what key themes are emerging from the central Challenge question. 

After launching the Fashion Values Challenge earlier this year, we hosted the Fashion Values Big Welcome Event at London College of Fashion in September, where students participated in an interactive session introducing them to the central question of the Challenge; how can fashion value society? This was an enriching session for both students and staff to come together to develop responses to this question. Through two focused workshops, we discussed our feelings on working with notions of social injustice in fashion, finding ways to understand our own personal connection and agency in this arena. By taking time to reflect together, we emerged with more clarity on how each of us could value society in or through fashion .In particular, we considered what ‘society’ really encapsulates, and how broad the scope for this question really is.  

The first workshop focused on social injustice in the fashion industry. CSF shared examples of issues such as workers rights, cultural appropriation of clothing and model exploitation, and students examined how this list could be expanded further. The students entered into an engaging conversation with us in this part of the workshop and discussed some very important and prevalent issues. Some of these ideas included lack of diversity and inclusion in the industry, waste colonialism and how social class affects our ability to consume and participate in fashion. These ideas were insightful additions to an already extensive list of social injustices. Following this, the students were then encouraged to consider things from a slightly different angle and think about things they are grateful for in life and in fashion. The aim of this challenge is ultimately to drive positive change within the industry, emphasizing the importance of considering things from a positive perspective and identifying areas for opportunity, rather than simply focusing on the issues.  

The second workshop introduced the participants to some existing strategies and values that drive change (for example education, activism, inclusive design etc), who were then asked what else could be considered, or what is missing. After discussing examples of strategies currently being put in place by brands, designers or organisations, students then began to conceptualise how they would design their own products or systems that value society – thus putting the wheels in motion for the main task of the Challenge.  

Our main goal for this session was for students to come away feeling supported in their ideas for the Challenge, and to give them opportunity to brainstorm and discuss their thoughts on what is becoming an ever more compelling topic in the fashion realm. Some fantastic innovation ideas were generated, with a key theme emerging around promoting inclusivity in fashion, whether that be from an economical, societal, cultural or environmental perspective. A key learning from this session? Each area of sustainability relates to and informs each other.  

So perhaps when considering the question of how fashion can value society, we should be acknowledging that society is a broad term for something that is so large in scope. From the structure of the workshops facilitated in this event, a good takeaway for anyone interested in the Challenge, or who perhaps may be struggling with the brief: follow a similar structure yourself during the initial ideas phase. A great place to start is to carefully consider and analyse what the issues are, and where the areas for opportunity lie. Once these ideas are in place, then you can begin to conceptualise how exactly you can put this into practice, drive the change you want to see and add value to fashion society.  

Remember, the Fashion Values Challenge submission form is now open! The Deadline for submissions is 10:00AM (GMT) Tuesday 28th February. Head over to the main Challenge page and follow the link to the submission form to apply!