University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion Education"

Meet MOTIF: An Online Fashion Industry Education Hub

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Since our founding in 2008, the University of Fashion has always recruited the best instructors from the best fashion colleges, such as FIT and Parsons, to teach our lessons. And, because we film in New York City, the fashion capital of the world, we have been able to tap the brain trust of our industry for our design and business lessons.

Going on 13 years now, we have partnered with the best dress form companies in the business (Alvanon and Wolf) and collaborated with several top tool and fabric suppliers as well as other industry resources (and the list is growing).

When we decided to add affordable computerized pattern making lessons, we forged a partnership with Tukatech so that we could offer a special, affordable rate to our subscribers.

Promoting another school’s content on our site may have seemed like a bad business decision, but our recent partnership with Upcycle Design School now provides our subscribers the opportunity to learn how to start their own sustainable fashion brand.

So, it therefore comes as no surprise that we are introducing our subscribers to MOTIF, a new learning platform aimed at the working fashion professional. I recently had the opportunity to interview Catherine Cole, MOTIF’s CEO, about their mission, the results of their survey on the skill level needs of the industry, and other relevant topics that affect today’s fashion and textile industry.

Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, recently interviewed Catherine to learn more about MOTIF and their unique and much needed learning platform.

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO (Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: MOTIF is a relatively new fashion industry learning platform, can you give some background as to when and why it was founded and what role Alvanon played in its inception?

Catherine: The fashion industry is going through major disruption caused by changes in consumption patterns, increasing cost pressures, speed-to-market pressures, unwieldy and fragmented supply chains and then having to play catch up in things like sustainability and digitisation. These disruptions are making a growing skills gap more and more evident. The last generation that has production floor expertise is retiring in the next 5-10 years and add to that an urgent need for the next generation of skills that include data, 3D product design and development and digital marketing. MOTIF was started to meet the urgent need by fashion brands and other players in the supply chain, for an ability to onboard new employees effectively and upskill current employees. Originally an intrapreneurial venture within global innovations company Alvanon, MOTIF officially launched in October 2018 with a suite of online courses on motif.org, before becoming a separate legal entity in April 2019. Since then, we have received $2m in funding from The Mills Fabrica.

Francesca: What has been the impact of Motif’s recent increase in funding?

Catherine: The increased funding allowed us to launch new social and community features alongside our courses and also develop authoring tools for partners (experts across the industry) to launch their own courses in our marketplace. We continually strive to enhance our features and are building a state-of-the- art learning environment for our users.

Francesca: Is Motif’s learning platform offered to individuals as well as to school libraries?

Catherine: MOTIF’s courses are aimed at both individual professionals in the industry as well as corporate HR or business teams that need to make sure their workforce is equipped with sound fundamentals and cross-functional understanding. These courses cover technical skills as well as commercial and soft skills for the apparel / fashion industry. We publish our own courses and also distribute courses of partner publishers. These partners can range from academic institutions like LIM College, to organisations fostering the adoption of business best practices and technical standards in the industry such as WRAP, and even independent seasoned industry experts such as Roz McNulty who is teaching a series of superuser courses from beginner to advanced level on CLO 3D on MOTIF.  Currently our courses are also used by professors who are looking to supplement their teaching with course material taught by practitioners.

Catherine Cole – MOTIF CEO at 2018 Summit (Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Alvanon conducted an industry survey back in 2018 entitled, The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry, and shared the results at a conference held in NYC. Can you discuss the findings of that survey, as it related to body sizing and the need for upskilling in the global fashion industry?

Catherine: MOTIF, with the support of Alvanon and 19 global industry associations, launched its second global State of Skills survey in early 2020 to see if anything had changed with regards to the urgency around skills and professional development since our first survey in 2018.  The results were just released in October 2020 and can be found in a whitepaper on our site.  The key findings were that the industry still views skills as a key business issue, but that budgets are not matching.  So, one of our big problems is that there is a major mismatch between priorities and investments, especially when it comes to topics like sustainability and digitisation.  Another key finding is the discrepancy between top management’s perception of how they are supporting their employees with continuous learning opportunities and how employees feel like they are not receiving the professional development they want.

Francesca: Does Motif’s curriculum reflect the needs of current fashion industry professionals? Does Motif recruit its instructors from the fashion industry?

Catherine: MOTIF exists to fill the skills gap in the industry on fundamental technical skills, as well as hot new skills that will enable professionals to be the best at what they do as well as future-proof their career in the industry. The first courses offered on the platform revolved around product development, fit and sizing, sustainability and then 3D. We’re progressively expanding our catalogue with courses covering training needs in the wider spectrum of the apparel and fashion supply chain. For example, we’ve recently published a course by AQM on how to safely resume operations and protect your factory workforce from Covid-19, and we will soon have a new course by WRAP on risk assessment in factories. All instructors teaching courses on the platform are highly experienced industry practitioners and experts, passionate and eager to share their knowledge for the betterment of business practices in the industry and committed to collaborate with our team to deliver enjoyable, efficient and highly applicable learning experiences.

Francesca: What importance does MOTIF put on having solid, hands-on, foundational knowledge in disciplines such as pattern making, draping, sewing and drawing before moving on to learn digital tools such as CAD, PDS and 3D?

Catherine: There are core skills that will always be critical in the industry. These are the fundamental skills that don’t change over time. They are also the “art and the science” or the craft in the industry.  Any newcomer to the industry needs to have these fundamentals.  Actually, it is not just the newcomers but even many seasoned professionals need refreshers in these skills as their careers evolve.  What has changed over time is how we apply some of these skills or the new digital tools that we are using with them.  You have many young start-ups looking for pattern makers with coding skills and it is this example of a new blend of skills that will be relevant in the future so that young brands and companies remain agile and innovative.

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Alvanon recently hosted the first 3D virtual conference, can you tell us what the industry’s reaction was to the inevitability of a 3D digital transformation? What are the pros and cons of implementing 3D in the workplace and what companies are leading this transformation?

Catherine: Alvanon, with MOTIF as its “Learning Partner”, organised the first 3D Tech Festival for Apparel and Fashion in September 2020, as an open and agnostic platform for 3D tech leaders to discuss and re-imagine how we live, work and learn in an apparel world gone digital. With over 60 speakers and thousands of participants from 94 different countries, the four-day virtual event was a resounding success with an innovative format combining a full-blown conference, 3D Tech vendor virtual showcases and the launch of the MOTIF 3D Fashion Tech Community. Aiming at quenching the thirst for practical knowledge and exchange around 3D adoption and implementation in the industry, the live event was offered entirely free and is now available on-demand on motif.org, while the MOTIF 3D Fashion Tech Community is also continuously growing with new members and ongoing conversation threads.

Like for all other major disruptive technology trends, there is a mix of excitement and apprehension or mistrust around the adoption of 3D and its benefits. The question of the pros and cons of implementing or adopting 3D, isn’t really the right one though. There is little doubt now that 3D already does and will increasingly bring efficiency and sustainability benefits to the industry. The first and foremost question is the fundamental WHY each organisation would adopt 3D and embark on a transformative journey. How does it support and enable execution of the vision and development strategy of an organisation? It’s about core business goals, streamlined processes and fostering a culture where people are embracing change, adhering to values and objectives underlying it. It’s about equipping your teams with the right skills and confidence that they can execute on the vision and that all stakeholders have a place in the transformational journey. It’s about mapping out the steps, from pilot to enterprise-wide deployment, and being able to demonstrate the return on investment at each stage. To help those that want and need to take the leap, MOTIF has developed a course that helps teams and individuals alike raise and answer the key questions, engage the right people and establish the milestones that will ease the way to the successful adoption and implementation of 3D.

There are many companies, large and small, and even start-ups, in the footwear and apparel industries that have started experimenting, adopting or embedding digital tech as the nexus of their business model or operations. We get excited when we talk to some of the most progressive ones now looking at building internal 3D or digital skills competency centers with an explicit mandate to ramp up the training of the workforce on transformational change project management and new tools or technologies. At MOTIF, our vision is to support these endeavours with a tool kit of courses and resources that can then be customized for brands or manufacturers.

(Image credit: MOTIF)

Francesca: Do you think the industry is adequately addressing climate change? What more can be done?

Catherine: We would have to answer no to this question.  Many companies are struggling with the HOW of integrating the ethos of the circle economy into their supply chains and to expedite the transformation around efficiency and transparency – both critical to tackle the problems of overproduction and waste.  This is why MOTIF is launching a sustainability intervention in February 2021! We will be hosting a three-day event around this particular topic with speakers from across the supply chain in an effort to reconcile practices between design, production and consumer.  Alongside this we will be launching our Sustainability Communities so that we can support the ongoing conversation.  MOTIF is also launching a new virtual learning series in December of this year that will run monthly and bring in case studies around these key topics.  Stay tuned for more information!

Francesca: What more can we do as an industry to stop the promotion, production and over-consumption of clothing?

Catherine: Overconsumption and overproduction are the two sides of the same coin, and we need to change currency. The urgency is undeniable yet there is no magic or easy way out or solution. On the consumer side, a change of societal values and education to buy less and better quality products produced or sourced responsibly, to prolong the life of our garments by upcycling, swapping, donating, reusing or recycling instead of just dumping them in a landfill, is paramount. Studies seem to show that Millennials and GenZ consumers are increasingly ready to pay more for quality products and have a genuine appetite for sustainable fashion, so we are heading in the right direction. Many brands, large and small are embedding sustainability practices throughout the entire product lifecycle and facilitating responsible customer initiatives by developing new services tied to the end of life of their products.

For many brands or retailers, it is also about ethos, values and legacy. It does take courage and integrity to, like Patagonia, refuse to participate in the Black Friday or CyberMonday orgies and encourage your customers not to buy a jacket in your new collection if the life of your current one can be extended. And it is not something you can preach or pull off unless you walk the talk. While we see real progress in the industry, the staggering, record sales numbers just reported by Alibaba and JD Express for the 2020 November Singles day (all consumer product categories included) show that old habits die hard and there are many contextual and cultural elements that come into play so there isn’t a one size fits all solution.

The progressive digitization of the industry and adoption of new technology are also enablers of systemic change, with the emergence of more circular business models. There is a pressing need to upskill the current people the industry employs on sustainability so that change can happen at scale. Waiting for a fresh generation of designers, product developers and supply chain professionals can’t be afforded. The responsibility of picking up these essential new skills, not only lies with the industry or corporations but also with professionals themselves, if they wish to become agents of change and future-proof their careers in the industry.

Sustainability is a strategic area of course and content development for us. As mentioned, when we launched our platform, we already had a beginner course on Sustainability and we have just released a brand new intermediate course taught by LIM College faculty.

Francesca: There has recently been a focus on social justice and our industry‘s lack of inclusivity. Do you think the fashion industry has more to do in this area and what is MOTIF doing to help?

Catherine: MOTIF is actively seeking out and working with partners that are developing content around these topics. From driving diversity and inclusion in our workplace all the way to how we bring in diversity and inclusion when designing for consumers and building socially responsible supply chains. Our vision is to have a catalogue of courses and resources valuable for the industry, but also that all material is taught through these lenses.

Francesca: Since the pandemic, people have been working remotely and making use of online tools. Have you seen an impact in online learning at MOTIF?

Catherine: Pre-Covid, companies still preferred onsite training even though online learning had established itself years ago as a viable and efficient training solution for individuals and corporations alike. The current crisis has only increased awareness and receptivity to the value of virtual learning environments and accelerated the adoption with many corporations now fully appreciating the efficiency, flexibility and scalability that elearning offers with real shared benefits for employees and employers. Once the pandemic gets under control, we expect that organisations will resume offline training, but we’re convinced that they will converge on more of a hybrid training model, a blended approach leveraging the best of both offline and online learning experiences, which MOTIF has already started to offer.

We’ve undoubtedly seen an increased traffic on the motif.org platform and stronger engagement from learners taking our courses. As more corporations, non-profit organisations or academic institutions are looking at accelerating the digitalisation of their training or educational content, this has also opened a lot of collaboration opportunities for us and enquiries on our instructional design and courses development services offering.

The University of Fashion is happy to welcome MOTIF to the online learning community. Together we shall both help to promote online fashion education for years to come!

 

Sincerely,

Francesca Sterlacci

CEO/University of Fashion

Meet Our Instructors

 

We have lots of teachers! With 13 different disciplines and 500 videos to learn from, including draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art, product development, knits, childrenswear, menswear, CAD fashion art, CAD pattern making, accessories design, fashion business and fashion lectures, we thought we’d introduce to more of them as we continue our blog series, Meet Our Instructors.

Pardon us for bragging but did you know that all of our instructors are either fashion college professors (from top fashion schools) or are fashion industry professionals?

Ever since we started offering 30-day free access offer to schools on March 4th due to Covid-19, and we launched a special promo to individual subscribers (was $189/now $169 using promo code NEWS21Y), we have tripled our subscribership!

So, for all of our new schools and subscribers here are a few more instructors that you should get to know. Click on their name to find out what they do in the industry and what they teach at UoF.

 

Kathlin Argiro – shares her extensive knowledge on how to start a fashion brand in her 3-part series for University of Fashion.

With a successful track record as a fashion designer and entrepreneur, Kathlin has sold her collection to top retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales.

In 2010, she joined the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) as an Adjunct Faculty member and has led high profile projects for First Lady Michelle Obama and for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute.

Most recently, Kathlin began teaching in FIT’s MFA program. She also serves as a mentor for FIT’s Design Entrepreneurs NYC (DENYC) mini MBA Program.

In addition to her role at FIT, Kathlin has also taught at Parsons School of Design, Pratt, and Zhejiang Sci-Tech University (ZSTU), China.

Considered a fashion industry expert, Kathlin has been quoted in numerous publications and has been a guest panelist at industry conferences and universities, including Mount Holyoke College and Fordham University.

Passionate about sharing her experience and mentoring emerging designers, Kathlin launched a consulting business, Kathlin Argiro New York, in 2014.

kat@kathlinargiro.com

https://www.kathlinargironewyork.com/

Instagram: @kathlinargiro

Facebook: Kathlin Argiro

Richard Rosenfeld is a veteran in the fashion education industry and we are honored to have him teaching a series of model-drawing lessons for University of Fashion.

Richard has taught fashion model-drawing classes at Parsons since 1978 and at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) since 1989. During that period, he taught numerous famous designers, including Chris Benz, Isaac Mizrahi and Jason Wu, as well as New York illustrator (and UoF instructor), Steven Broadway.

Having attended the Rhode Island School of Design and as a graduate of Parsons with a degree in illustration, Richard has worked as a fashion illustrator for high profile publications such as Vogue, WWD, Glamour, The New York Times, and for various department stores and other fashion design clientele.

Richard’s philosophy for teaching fashion drawing focuses on developing good observational skills, the accurate depiction of textiles and various types of garments in silhouette, all with a personal point of view. His preferred medium of choice is a combination of pencil & watercolors.

Currently, Richard enjoys mentoring young design professionals and continues his passion for drawing from live models during the Covid-19 pandemic via ZOOM. He is curious to see how the health crisis will impact the future of this creative industry.

@richard_rosenfeld_art

 

Andrew Curwen’s lessons for University of Fashion demonstrate a designer’s respect for Savile Row workmanship. His hand sewn buttonhole lessons are pure works of art.

Andrew is a graduate of Parson’s BFA program and currently resides and works in Manhattan. With a background in bespoke construction and textile arts, his introduction to tailoring was taught and nurtured by a master Savile Row tailor.

The disparity between love and death are recurring themes throughout Andrew’s design work, something that could be described as a feminine brutality. Andrew works to design fashion for posterity that touches on the human condition.

Barbara Seggio has over 30 years of experience working in the fashion industry as a designer, technical designer and freelance design consultant. Her specialty is women’s sportswear and childrenswear design.

At the University of Fashion, Barbara shares her expertise in the areas of draping, pattern making, sewing and childrenswear. Barbara is also the editor of Sewing Techniques for Beginners and co-editor of Pattern Making Techniques for Beginners, UoF’s companion book series.

As an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Barbara teaches all disciplines of fashion design including: draping, patternmaking and sewing. Barbara’s accomplishments at FIT include: development of the childrenswear specialization, chairperson of the Childrenswear Advisory Board, member of the Sewing and Childrenswear Curriculum Committees and instructor in their high school weekend/summer program.

 

 

A Reminder to High Schools & Colleges

We are offering all high schools and colleges a free one-month access to our University of Fashion content library of over 500 educational videos. Teachers, should coordinate their school’s request and send that request to cs@UniversityofFashion.com, and we will provide your school with an access code. So…students, tell your teachers!

The goal of our free 30-day access to schools only, is to help schools salvage the balance of their semester. In preparation for the fall, in the event the pandemic continues into the next semester, we have waived our one-year school subscription minimum and are now offering special shortened subscription terms and rates.

Since 2008, University of Fashion has been providing individuals, groups, schools and public libraries with hands-on and lecture lessons in fashion design and fashion business. Many of our subscriber schools have been using our content in hybrid classrooms for years. Just read our testimonials.

As you use our library, we’d love your feedback. Tell us which are your favorite lessons and what new lessons you’d like to see? Send comments to us at cs@UniversityofFashion.com.

To Individual Subscribers

For those who are not currently enrolled in school but would like to take advantage of our library, we are now offering an individual membership deal. Get $20 off a yearly membership (was $189 now $169) using promo code NEWS21Y. Offers expire 12/31/20

SIGN UP HERE

 

Did you know that we have a very informative weekly blog covering relevant fashion topics? And, stay connected with us via our lively social media presence: Instagram- @uoffashion and Facebook – University of Fashion.

This is a new deal just offered by our UK-based publisher.
Our Video & Book Combination – Get 40% each book using discount code FRIENDS40 (offer expires 5/31/20)

Draping: Techniques for Beginners – https://www.laurenceking.com/us/product/draping-2/
Sewing: Techniques for Beginners – https://www.laurenceking.com/us/product/sewing/
Pattern Making: Techniques for Beginners – https://www.laurenceking.com/us/product/pattern-making/

Once you click one of the book links, above, you’ll see the book you selected in the middle of the screen. Click the shopping cart icon in the upper right of the same page then, on the order form provided, enter the discount code: FRIENDS40, and then click “Apply discount.” Then click “Proceed to checkout.”

WHAT LESSONS ARE YOU CRAVING?

WOW, we’ve received an outpouring of lesson suggestions.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Since we put out our request 2 weeks ago for new lesson suggestions, we have been inundated with responses from students, teachers, industry professionals, home sewers and fashion entrepreneurs from 38 different countries and still counting. It’s been amazing!

THERE’S STILL TIME FOR YOU TO SEND YOUR SUGGESTIONS TO:
suggestions@xemaps.com
by February 1, 2020

Here’s just a sampling of what we’ve received thus far:

Pattern Making  

  • Different pant styles
  • Plus size patterns and pattern grading
  • Various coat styles
  • Half scale pattern making
  • Jumpsuits
  • Box pleats
  • Athleisure: men and women
  • Various skirt styles: layered, tiered, divided
  • Knit garment grading
  • TR & Subtraction Cutting Techniques

Sewing

  • Jacket/Skirt: drafting & sewing
  • Cutting, sewing and invisible zipper-setting on a bias skirt
  • Piping on a notched collar
  • Faced waistband for skirts/pants
  • Collars: drafting & sewing
  • Cuffs drafting & sewing

Draping/Fitting

  • Lingerie
  • Swimwear
  • Corset with cups
  • Wrap dress

Lectures

  • Costing
  • Historical Costuming
  • Fashion vocabulary: types of pockets, lapels, coats pants, sweaters, etc.
  • Sustainable dyeing techniques
  • Design Theory – Clothing that flatters
  • Fitting: bodices, sleeves, dresses, jackets

As many of you already know, our video library has grown over the years from 100 videos in 6 disciplines in 2013 to 500 lessons today in 13 disciplines:

  • Draping, Sewing, Pattern making, Fashion Art, Accessories, Menswear, Knits, Childrenswear, Product Development, CAD Art & Pattern making, Fashion Business, as well as Fashion Lectures that include textiles, trend forecasting, fashion law, fashion history and other fashion related topics.

We are still accepting suggestions so don’t be shy, send us what you’d like us to shoot. We love you guys!

Please send your suggestions to us at suggestions@xemaps.com
by February 1, 2020

WE’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR 2 CENTS

 

UNIVERSITY OF FASHION IS LOOKING FOR YOUR FEEDBACK

As the year end approaches, you’ve probably been bombarded with hundreds of fashion recaps, ad nauseum. Here at University of Fashion we thought we’d take a slightly different approach, by looking to the future and reaching out to all of our loyal fans and subscribers to ask this important question…

 WHAT LESSONS WOULD YOU LIKE US TO ADD IN 2020?

Those of you who’ve been following UoF ever since we launched in 2013, know that we’re a company that was founded by a designer for designers. Our video library has grown over the years from 100 videos in 6 disciplines when we launched, to close to 500 lessons today in 13 disciplines: Draping, Sewing, Pattern making, Sewing, Fashion Art, Accessories, Menswear, Childrenswear, Product Development, Cad Art & Pattern making, lessons in Fashion Business and Fashion Lectures that include textiles, color theory, trend forecasting, fashion law, sustainable design and fashion history, as well of lots of other great fashion insider lectures & interviews.

People from more than 177 countries visit our website every year. From high school & college students and fashion college professors, to designer entrepreneurs & individuals who are looking to upgrade their skills. We still maintain our high-quality standards by hiring only fashion college professors from the top schools & fashion industry pros to teach our lessons. All of our videos are professionally shot and edited. Just read our testimonials to see how well we’re doing!

So far, comments that we’ve received from our subscribers and fans include: how to draft & sew a lined skirt with a back vent; waistband sewing techniques; bridal wear draping & sewing techniques; how to draft a coat, wrap dress and jumpsuit; plus-size pattern making; more menswear drafting lessons and advanced draping & drawing techniques lessons. Now’s the time for you get to add your 2 cents as we plan our 2020 film shoot. We’d love to hear from YOU!

PLEASE SEND YOUR LESSON SUGGESTIONS TO US AT

SUGGESTIONS@XEMAPS.COM

BY FEB 1, 2020

 

Posen Shutters His House As the UoF Opens Doors for Future Designers

Fashion times, they are a changin’.

In just the past few weeks alone, once fashion darling Zac Posen has closed his doors and the iconic retailer Barneys has closed its remaining doors, two more signs that fashion design and retail operations as we’ve known them for so many years are in fact yesterday’s news.

To Posen’s credit, he can claim the story many emerging designers have aspired to. With semesters spent at Parsons and Central Saint Martins, a long line of celebs who have worn his gowns on the red carpet and fame as an expert judge on Project Runway, some would claim that Posen’s run in the fashion world is the stuff an emerging designer’s dreams are made of. And truthfully, Posen lasted much longer in a crumbling model than most. He even starred in his own documentary, House of Z, detailing the behind the scenes successes and struggles over the years.

In 2008, when my fellow fashion school graduates and I landed in NYC after graduating from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, several of us were overcome with jealousy when one of us scored an internship with Zac Posen. It was a tough economic time in which fashion companies were laying off employees, and so many of us had given up on the thought of getting a “real job” in fashion and instead were fighting for unpaid internships with the hope that they would lead to paid positions.

Even then, I can remember the bright fashion stars I had in my eyes beginning to dim as I watched my talented classmate drape his heart out for Posen, often leaving our apartment at 6:30 am to make it to the studio by 7:00 am, not to return until well after 7:00 pm (and without pay). When one of my classmate’s creations ended up on Posen’s runway, we thought for sure, this would be his big break. But as was (and may still be) commonplace with companies headed by a singular famous face, my classmate’s “internship” was over once the season was over and Posen’s runway show was complete. Posen was on to the next group of eager “interns.” And my classmate? He was left with crippling student loans to pay and still, no job.

I share this story because it illuminates the reasons why we are finally seeing a real shift in the fashion industry. And why we’ve got to let go of what has been been considered success in the fashion industry in the past (fame, celebrity, elaborate shows season after season) and instead look toward a more sustainable future in fashion for emerging designers. Posen himself (guided by his mother) saw how unsustainable the fame-party-celebrity red carpet style of designing and running a business was back in 2010. Posen’s decision to branch out into collaborations and more affordable mass market options in order to keep the sought after design dream alive was detailed in WSJ. And yet even with this forethought, Posen’s high end business ultimately couldn’t survive.

Fast forward to today and even educators from top fashion schools (in fact, my former director, Simon Ungless at the Academy of Art in San Francisco), have started to question their own fashion programs, wondering if they are in fact preparing their students for what the fashion world holds. Ungless recently suggested that fashion schools are preparing students for an industry that doesn’t exist (read Ungless’ full interview here) and that if students aspire to celebrity as a fashion designer, they should “make a sex tape.”

Aside from the fact that today’s students in traditional fashion design programs are still striving for that final fashion show in hopes of being noticed by industry professionals (which ultimately may happen to a select handful of graduates), the college debt load students are accumulating is real. A single semester at Parsons, including tuition, books, room and board is approximately $60,000 and at FIT, around $45,000. Multiply that by the number of semesters it takes to graduate and we are talking upwards of $200,000 spent on an education that may or may not pay for itself.

And while we will never say “we told ya so,” the University of Fashion was conceived and developed years ago as a direct response to the issues we are seeing today, including:

• the prohibitive high cost of a traditional fashion education
• the lack of jobs/opportunity in the fashion industry to make a high-cost education pay off
• the changing skills/mindset needed to “make it” as a fashion designer in today’s fashion landscape

Maybe Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, et al. have a point—forego college and invest that money in your own start-up. Learn fashion design at UoF, get your technical skills and then use your money to launch and advertise your own brand. Imagine the possibilities when you let go of the idea that you must have a degree from Parsons, an internship with Marc Jacobs and celebrity status as a 20-something designer with a Hadid wearing your brand on Instagram.

There are so many ways for emerging designers to “make it” in the fashion industry of tomorrow, because the industry is yours to create. Instead of aiming for super stardom and spending a fortune on a traditional fashion education, get creative with different ways to break into the fashion industry. Use online resources to create a niche design item and learn how to market yourself via social media. Follow a path that feels authentic and genuine to you and think outside the box. We truly believe designers CAN make a living at what they love through research, social media savvy and creative thought. How about a new young designer pop-up store collective? Already paving a new path forward in the fashion industry? We want to know about it! Inspire others by sharing in the comments below.

GOING GREEN, HOW DENIM LABELS ARE EMBRACING SUSTAINABILITY

M.i.h. Jeans practices denim sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Climate change, global warming, plastic in our oceans, these are all real threats that have not just Millennials and Generation Zers worried, but should be a concern for people of all ages. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” is receiving plenty of publicity, we as a design community must realize that we are among the top polluters of our planet, actually, according to Ethical Unicorn, we rank #5. Not a number that we should be proud. So, what can we do as an industry to lower our ranking? Who are the brands who are leading the way?

Well, while there are literally thousands of fashion brands and companies around the world, there are not as many as there should be in our industry moving towards sustainability and who are consciously making an effort to reduce waste and pollution that our industry causes.

We’d like to give a shout-out to two ‘green’ advocates, Stella McCartney and Christopher Raeburn. These designers were among the ten fashion companies that have recently received the inaugural CO10 Leadership Award, an award that recognizes companies that have set down a pathway towards sustainability.

Christopher Raeburn fitting a model in one of his looks. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

The award is presented by Common Objective, a network that connects more than 10,000 professionals in the fashion, retail and textile industries that share knowledge and best sustainability practices. Other companies that were honored were, Osklen, Bottletop, Indigenous, Outland Denim, Mayamiko, Sonica Sarna Design, Ethical Apparel Africa and The Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills.

“The industry has seen an incredible amount of traction over the past year, from increased consumer demand and government engagement, to the abundance of new entrants that focus on sustainability,” said Harold Tillman, former chairman of the British Fashion Council. The overall CO Leadership Awards are given to fashion brands that champion innovation in sustainability.

On December 10, 2018, Stella McCartney launched a program during the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland, which addressed various issues in the fashion industry, such as pollution, deforestation, low carbon production methods, and toxicity in products. Another goal for McCartney is to create awareness among students and designers that there are more environmentally-friendly ways to create collections. Today, more than ever, customers are aware and looking to purchase from brands that are focused on sustainability.

Stella McCartney at the Katowicw Climate Change Conference in Poland (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Denim Sustainability News

While the majority of the population would love to purchase clothing that is environmentally-friendly, let’s face it, many cannot afford Stella McCartney’s hefty price point. But environmentalists will be happy to hear that everyone’s favorite closet staple, denim, is helping to lead the way towards sustainability.

Denim is one of the most popular fashion items around the world, but the mass production of this wardrobe staple has turned into an environmental nightmare. Remember the footage from China when a river turned blue from a nearby denim factory? Clearly denim dyes and water consumption are both harmful to the environment. However, today, the industry is searching for ways to help clean up the process and build a more sustainable supply chain. The denim industry is slowly joining together to create an ecosystem focused on sustainability practices.

Denim dyes damage the environment (Photo Courtesy of Forbes)

This past February at the Première Vision Textile Trade Show in Paris, a group of experts from the denim world gathered together for a panel hosted by Isko, a leading Turkish denim mill. The topic… the “Unlimited Possibilities of Responsible Denim.” Panelists included: Ebru Ozkucuk Guler (CSR executive at Isko), Miles Johnson (designer at Stan Ray denim and and previously at Patagonia and Levi Strauss & Co.), Rachel Pearce (director of denim consultancy firm Denimhand) and François Girbaud (owner Marithé + François Girbaud).

Isko’s sustainable denim panel Première Vision Textile Trade Showin Paris. (Courtesy Photo WWD)

Consumers today are intelligent. They want more transparency about the clothing and products they are purchasing. According to Miles Johnson, “it is high time, with all the confusion over certification, for governments to start implementing standards.”

The panel was in agreement that the idea of phasing out cotton was not realistic, but embracing new approaches to the cotton supply chain and implementing dye and waste management practices are vital for the industry’s survival.

Here’s what the panelists said: 

“We’re not going to stop doing cotton jeans, so let’s just do it better. But you have to have a big idea for 25 years down the road that everyone signs up for, and then we can all start trekking toward the same spot. Unfortunately we’re not there yet, and it’s all still a bit scattered,” Johnson said. Adding that “Cotton now has a bad name, like plastic. If people hear plastic now they go, ‘Ooh, bad.’ It’s not bad, the world just isn’t set up so that we can handle recycling, because we haven’t invested in waste disposal, so we’re not catching plastic at the end and turning it back into fiber.”

Pearce added, “We can grow cotton better, we can be more responsible with cotton, but our biggest enemy is the amount that’s going to landfill, to waste. But the cotton that’s going to landfill, it’s going to biodegrade; it’s the polyester we should be worried about, it currently stays in our environment for up to 120 years before breaking down.”

“We are in an incredibly wasteful industry, [but] I do commend everyone in the denim industry because at least we’re a step ahead of the sportswear industry,” concluded Johnson. “People are having these conversations a lot more in denim than they are in anything else.”

Blue + Denim practices denim sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

 

Here are some possible solutions: 

Case in point, this past October in Amsterdam at the Kingpins Fair Trade Show, sustainability in denim was a key issue being tackled by experts. Posters detailing water-saving processes, potassium permanganate-free finishes and recycled fabrics were in front of most stands, and they were easy to spot from afar thanks to their symbolic green and blue hues.

M&J Group, a Bangladesh-based manufacturer, added green tags to each garment, that labeled the level of water, gas or chemicals used for the conception of each denim piece. Meanwhile, at Global Denim, the manufacturer promoted EcoloJean technology. Their posters illustrated a regular pair of jeans next to a pile of water bottles, explaining that it takes 20 liters of water to dye a single pair of jeans. The EcoloJean technology, said the poster, boasts zero water discharging.

Another big initiative in going green is fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.  “We’ve just sourced a fabric called Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Tara Jessop, who was attending with Rebekah Hough, a fellow designer at Fundamental, a British denim manufacturer that counts the Arcadia group among its clients. “We’ve just sourced a fabric called Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Tara Jessop, who was attending with Rebekah Hough, a fellow designer at Fundamental, a British denim manufacturer that counts the Arcadia group among its clients. “We keep seeing the green plastic bottle tags on every stand. They are an amazing marketing tool; they help the customer understand the process,” she added.

(Photo courtesy Reprove.com)

(Photo courtesy Reprove.com)

Thankfully, more affordable denim mills are now taking steps towards sustainability.  “We’ve been going round to each stand to ask them what they’ve been doing from a sustainable angle,” said Lee women’s designer Natasha Goforth, who added that the brand was looking to make its carryover fabrics more sustainable. “But we’re looking at every single element: fabrics, trims, finishes. It’s not just about the sustainability of the fabric itself, but rather how we can bring in more elements of sustainability to our brand,” she added.

DL 1961 Denim practices sustainability when producing denim. (Courtesy Photo)

Australian’s Outland Denim is facing challenges managing sudden rapid growth due to the brands ethical focus, The brands founder James Bartle stated “Integrity is everything to us as a business. The goal is to be a big part of changing the fashion industry for good. Our strategy is to be product-focused, to not be a charity and to create a genuinely sustainable business model that changes people’s lives and the environment at the same time.”

Outland Denim (Commercial Photography Cambodia)

ABLE Denim has adapted to sustainability practices. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

TO ALL OF OUR UOF DESIGNERS AND MANUFACTURERS – HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE? WE’D LOVE TO FEATURE YOU IN OUR BLOG. LET US KNOW

 

Future of Textiles: Color-Changing Fabric Controlled with an App?

Color Changing Threads (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.Com)

Color changing threads (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.com)

Imagine the cave man’s reaction going from animal skins to the advent of textiles. Around 5,000 BCE, textiles made from wool, cotton and silk fibers were being woven in Egypt, India and China. Those fibers and methods of weaving were the mainstay of the industry until the advent of man-made textiles like rayon in 1855, viscose 1894 and acetate in 1910. Then, along came the big disruptors…synthetic fibers. These included nylon (1931), polyester (circa 1941), modacrylic (1949) and acrylic (1950). Then there was a trend in creating fabric out of more sustainable fibers and materials such as bamboo, corn, pineapple and even plastic bottles and of course silver nanoparticles used used to impart antimicrobial properties to cotton fibers to aid in the healing of wounds.

Now… enter the 21st century and the latest version of textile disruption …technology. In our blog last week, we discussed the innovative possibilities of 3D and laser printing and the growing list designers who are embracing a futuristic approach to fashion. Let’s check out how technology is affecting and shaping the world of textiles.

This past spring, college researchers in Florida created a temperature-controlled color-changing fabric  known as ChroMorphous. Consumers will now have the ability to change the color and pattern of their handbag or scarf, so that it matches their outfit…all possible with a tap of their smartphone.

This backpack can change its color on demand to match your mood. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

This backpack can change its color on demand to match your mood. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

Dr. Ayman Abouraddy, professor of optics and photonics at the College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida (CREOL), stated that the age of user-controlled color-changing fabric is here. “Our goal is to bring this technology to the market to make an impact on the textile industry,” he said.

So, how does ChroMorphous work? How can fabric change color and pattern? According to Dr. Abouraddy, “each woven thread is equipped with a micro-wire and a color-altering pigment. You can use your smartphone to change the color or pattern of the fabric on-demand, as the wire can alter the temperature of the fabric in a quick and uniform way. The change in temperature is barely noticeable by touch.”

Abouraddy and Josh Kaufman have been working on optical technology for over a decade at CREOL, but it has only been in the past couple of years that they have veered away from that work, to produce this new kind of fabric. “This is the culmination of our work,” said Kaufman. “We developed different fabrication techniques. This is our first foray in taking those optical fibers into fabric.”

Color Changing Fabric That Can Be Controlled With A Smartphone (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.Com)

Color and pattern changing fabric that can be controlled with a smartphone (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.com)

In the past, color-changing fabrics contained light-emitting diodes, better known as LED’s, that release light in a variety of colors. But ChroMorphous’ technology enables innovative capabilities, in that consumers can control the color as well as the pattern in woven fabrics and cut-and-sewn products.

The threads are made from a synthetic polymer. Within each thread there is a thin metal micro-wire. Electric currents flow through these micro-wires, changing the thread temperature, slightly higher. But don’t worry they do not touch the customer’s skin. Embedded in the thread are special pigments that respond to the change in temperature by changing the thread’s color.

Just think of the infinite possibilities this advanced technology gives designers and consumers. ChroMorphous allows the user to control, both when the color change happens and what pattern they want to appear on the fabric. All this is possible with just a simple press of a button on your smart device.

“Can we expect an ever-expanding range of functionalities from our clothing? These were the questions we asked when creating the ChroMorphous technology that we began developing in 2016,” Abouraddy said. He claims that the technology is scalable at mass-production levels via a process known as fiber-spinning and is currently produced in Melbourne, Florida, with CREOL’s collaborators at Hills Inc. Founded in 1971, Hills Inc. is a well-known innovator in multi-component fiber extrusion technologies.

The CREOL team is working closely with Hills Inc. to minimize the diameter of the threads in order to produce fabrics for the wide-scale market. This innovative fabric can be used in everything from clothing and accessories to furniture and home decor.

So, I’m sure you want to know…how is the fabric charged and how can it be washed? Well, the fabric is powered by a rechargeable battery pack that is hidden inside the clothing. The texture of the fabric is like denim, and it can be washed and ironed.

Abouraddy stated that he expects mass production to begin within the next year. At the moment, the threads are too thick for clothing, but they will work with bags, scarves, and backpacks. “We would reduce the threads in the future to make it more comfortable for a shirt,” Abouraddy said. “It’s not just for things you would wear. It could be used for upholstery, wall decorations for a room … you could change it to darker and more soothing colors.”

Your handbag can change its color thanks to ChroMorphous. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

Your handbag can change its color thanks to ChroMorphous. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

This product is the result of a decade’s worth of research with the past year and a half focused on textiles. It may have taken centuries to get here but wow, the future of textiles has never been more exciting than it has been in just the past decade. Wonder what the future has in store?

So tell us, are you ready to embrace the future of technological textiles?

 

5 Surefire Ways to Get Inspired Today

I’ve always wanted to teach a class on how to find inspiration as a fashion designer. I’ve often thought, “How dreamy to spend my days finding and exploring what inspires me, never mind the satisfaction that would come from fostering inspiration in others.” For me, finding inspiration is the most thrilling part of what we get to do as designers. Read More