“Fashion is sustainable”, “fashion needs to be seasonless”, “fashion is more than clothes”!! As the pandemic ravaged the world, many of these aforementioned phrases has made rounds on the internet, in magazines, and in several interviews. The world of “fashion” as we knew it is changing.? Are we really changing the very identity of fashion or are we just talking about some minuscule changes in the fashion industry? Yes, what we see on the runways is changing and what we read in the magazines is changing but how is this change going to sustain over the years? Can we really talk about a sustainable future in fashion if the value is not inculcated in the budding designers with a change in design education?
Though the conversation for a more inclusive and sustainable industry is catching pace, the discussion seems to fade when it comes to the very curriculum in the design institutes. When the world is talking about the core values of fashion, the design students are learning about the same old prejudices in fashion. We see beautiful but meaningless assignments on styles, silhouettes, runway coverage, and whatnot. However, these assignments fail to cover the grave issues in the industry. For people who live and breathe fashion, isn’t it important to equally talk about the fallacies? Or are we just so inclined towards the glam of the industry that we have made it a point to overlook the concerning issues?
We talk about shedding the seasons from the fashion industry but we are still covering the runway shows for “autumn-winter” and “spring-summer”. At the leading design colleges, there is rampant use of trend forecasting books and materials. Are these giants in the domain walking towards a seasonless fashion? The critics are questioning the fashion houses about their social responsibilities but we are failing to look at the very roots of this creative domain. Ensign college is how an individual starts learning about the industry. This is how he/she experiences fashion for the very first time. This is the reason why there should be a change in the design curriculum itself. Until and unless the narrative in these institutes changes, the fashion industry will always be the gatekeeper of glam and superfluous beauty. Without the design students and the design faculties talking about the deeper issues in fashion, without them talking about the favorable transformations, how are the new-age designers going to realize the implication of a garment?
In my recent brush with the fashion faculty (name withheld) from a fashion college, we were discussing “FASHION”. During this discussion, the faculty talked about one assignment done by the students that turned heads. While saying this, the faculty briefly mentioned how the presentation was “in line with the trends”. This! Trends! Aren’t we trying to move away from it? The discussion then made me question the very foundation of the industry i.e., the faculties. Fashion is about people and the people who are currently associated with the industry are still attached to the archaic ideas of the apparel-textile industry. Where is the discussion on Indian textiles? Where’s the discussion around the alterations that have happened on the home turf? The everyday classroom discussion that shapes these design students are still revolving around history, the fashion shows, THE TRENDS. The sheer failure in the design education of the nation is blatantly hampering the future of fashion and the critics are not really talking about this.
In order to rethink the future of the fashion industry, a change in design education is a must. A change in the curriculum and a major change in the everyday lecture is much-needed for the forthcoming time.
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