In 2016, Whitecliffe launched a new stream of the Master of Fine Arts programme focussing on Fashion and Sustainability. The programme offers postgraduate opportunities for fashion designers with an interest in ecologically ethical and sustainable fashion.

Sustainability in fashion is part of an expanding branch within the fashion industry focused on social responsibility and environmental impact through the ethical treatment of workers in the supply chain, use of sustainable and organic materials, disuse of harmful chemicals and dyes and reduction of textile waste.

The Whitecliffe Fashion Design department has long had a strong focus on sustainable and ethical practice within the Bachelor of Fine Arts programme. Students are encouraged to address environmental and social concerns within the industry and increasingly are employing natural dyes, organic fabrics, recycled materials, deadstock fabrics, creative and innovative pattern making, zero and minimal waste, with all fabric waste being taken to a local textile recycling facility.

This year the MFA Fashion Sustainability students were accepted for participation in the 2016 Youth Fashion Summit in Copenhagen. Over 100 students from all over the world were invited to attend the event which focused on ways in which sustainability can be achieved within the fashion industry to reduce demands on resources and impact on the environment.

International guests will be invited for presentations and assessment periods to support students in their design research throughout the course of the MFA programme. Recent guests and professionals have included Liz Mitchell, Elizabeth Finlay from Zambesi, Marina Davis from Ovna Ovich, Elizabeth Brown, Ethical Sourcing and Social Responsibility specialist, and Marianne Franklin, Professor of Global Media and Politics at Goldsmiths.

The Whitecliffe MFA Fashion and Sustainability programme is for pioneering young fashion designers, fashion artists and practitioners who want to embrace sustainable practices, ask questions and address social and environmental issues in the textile and garment supply chain to make a positive change through innovative outcomes.

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Caption: Whitecliffe student Sophia Joy Butler designs.