A few months ago I was invited to be part of a Fashion Debates panel. Hosted by founder Olivia Pinnock, she introduced me to fellow panelist Renee Cucoco of CSF, along with Lucy Shea from Futerra. On the agenda was a panel discussion on ethical and sustainable fashion. After the talk ended, I found myself drawn to finding out exactly what Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) does. My curiosity was aroused by Renee, who brought up some great points. So the following day I put on my Columbo hat and dove into the world of CSF.
Working from Research Centre of the University of the Arts London, CSF was established in 2008 by Dilys William. Hoping to build a sustainable future and improve the way we live, they actively explore ways to research, set agendas (in Government, business and public arenas) and pioneer a world relevant curriculum.
The London based research Centre is now a diverse community of world leading researchers, designers, educators and communicators with an extensive network that crosses disciplines, generations, cultures and locations. Supported by key change-makers from the fashion industry, CSF is committed to using fashion to drive change. What makes CSF stand out for us is how they dare to question and challenge reactionary fashion cultures, which reflect and re-enforce patterns of excessive consumption and disconnection. Believing in their cause, they are successfully expanding fashion’s ability to connect, delight and identify individual and collective values.
In order to understand CSF’s commitment and vision, we think that it makes sense to also take a look at the driving force behind CSF’s action plan. So with no further ado, let’s meet the team:
Dilys Williams – Director and Professor of Fashion Design for Sustainability
Professor Dilys Williams FRSA is Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion, a University of the Arts Research Centre based at London College of Fashion. She has extensive experience as a Womenswear designer, having headed up international collections for Katharine Hamnett, Liberty and Whistles alongside a teaching and research portfolio based on fashion for sustainability, in a number of locations around the world. Her place on the Evening Standard’s London’s Progress 1000 list in 2015 evidences the public and academic influence of her work in exploring sustainability as a way for us to live well through fashion.
In establishing the CSF, Dilys has been able to embed sustainability into fashion, education, business and research. Acting as co-secretariat to the House of Lords All Party Parliamentary Group on Fashion, Sustainability and Ethics she has enabled the CSF to use its expertise in bringing the subject of sustainability in fashion to the attention of key political figures.
Dilys is a member of the Observer Ethical Awards judging panel, advisor to a number of businesses and academic courses and a regular contributor in the media, including the Guardian, ShowSTUDIO and Salt magazine.
Trained at Manchester Metropolitan University and holding a UAL professorship, she publishes widely on fashion and sustainability in academic journals and published books.
Alex McIntosh – Course Leader MA Fashion Futures
Alex is the Course Leader for the ground breaking MA Fashion Futures programme, exploring the nature and purpose of design in a rapidly changing world. The course aims to build a generation of practitioners who are adaptable, experimental, eco-literate and culturally sensitive. The course places sustainability at the heart of fashion practice, touching on social, environmental, and technological agendas, whilst offering the freedom to create, speculate and imagine paths to a better future.
Alex is a skilled communicator, facilitator and consultant. He is highly experienced in the research, development and delivery of creative projects and campaigns. He has built successful and productive relationships with a wide variety of clients and collaborators inside and outside fashion and worked extensively with a broad spectrum of creative SMEs on everything from product development to communication and business planning. He was the Managing Director of the innovative menswear brand Christopher Raeburn for a number of years and continues to act as a strategic consultant for the brand.
Alex’s research interests revolve around the exploration of business models that nurture sustainable innovation, community engagement and creative thinking. Alex regularly delivers seminars, workshops, and presentations to international audiences on a variety of topics related to fashion and sustainability and is a regular contributor to consumer press.
Renée Cuoco – Centre for Sustainable Fashion Manager
Renée has a background in law and fashion and textile design. She applies a range of communication, creative and analytical skills to devise and deliver impactful projects with team members and a range of partners. With experience working with high-end design and luxury brands Renée has a holistic understanding of the fashion industry from conceptual design and craftsmanship to the driving factors behind commercial business.
Renée oversees the running of the Centre, projects and development opportunities, working across research, business and education to ensure CSF’s vision is achieved. Exploring design for sustainability and education for sustainable development principles Renée is interested in cross-discipline collaboration and the role of arts and design in the facilitation of social and ecological resilience.
Nina Stevenson – Education for Sustainability Projects Manager
Nina is a skilled project manager and communicator, and enjoys developing complex ideas into creative and measurable projects.
Focusing on transformative education practices, Nina leads on projects at the Centre that positively contribute to our understanding of the purpose and practice of Higher Education. Keeping abreast of policy and agenda, Nina is a successful bid writer and project manager, having worked with public sector organisations such as Erasmus, Higher Education Academy, United Nations and the Mayor’s Office.
Currently, Nina is leading the Kering Partnership at London College of Fashion – a unique five-year collaboration using fashion to drive change and build a sustainable future, improving the way we live now and how we will live in the future.
Kate Fletcher – Professor of Sustainability, Design and Fashion
Kate Fetcher is Professor of Sustainability, Design and Fashion at London College of Fashion where she has a broad remit spanning enterprise, education and research.
Urban by birth with an ecological spirit, Kate Fletcher’s work is both rooted in nature’s principles and engaged with the cultural and creative forces of fashion and design. Over the last 15 years, her original thinking and progressive outlook has shaped the field of fashion, textiles and sustainability and come to define it. Kate is one of the founders of the ‘slow fashion’ movement and instigator of directional sustainability projects, including Local Wisdom.
Kate has over 50 scholarly and popular publications in the field. She is author of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys (2008). Readers call it “inspiring,” “beautifully written,” “the foundation for a radical new perspective” and “a must read” and it is in active use in commercial design studios and is the principle text in academic seminar rooms around the world. She is also co-author of Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change (2012).
Helen Storey – Professor of Fashion and Science
Helen Storey MBE is Professor of Fashion and Science at London College of Fashion. Her pioneering work over the last decade has brought the worlds of art and science together, producing hybrid projects, and products that have broken new and award winning ground. These include Wonderland, Catalytic Clothing, Plastic is Precious and most recently the Dress of Glass and Flame.
Helen is an artist and designer living and working in London. She graduated in Fashion from Kingston Polytechnic in 1981, then worked with Valentino and Lancetti in Rome. She returned to London and worked with Belville Sassoon before launching her own label in 1983 with Caroline Coates. Storey’s late ‘80s and early ‘90s collections were noted for their questioning of traditional notions of glamour, expense and women’s image, including the launch of her 2nd Life range of clothes in 1992. In 1991, Storey won Most Innovative Designer Of The Year and was nominated for British Designer Of The Year by The British Fashion Council.
Helen was awarded Honorary Professorships at Heriot Watt University and King’s College London in 2001 and 2003 respectively, and became a Visiting Professor of Material Chemistry at Sheffield University in 2008, she was awarded an MBE for ‘Services to Arts’ in 2009. In 2012 she was awarded Honorary Doctor of Science at University of Sheffield and Honorary Professor of Craft and Design at University of Dundee.
Sandy Black – Professor of Fashion and Textile Design and Technology
Sandy Black is Professor of Fashion and Textile Design and Technology at London College of Fashion, she has extensive experience in both the fashion industry and academia. As designer and director of the Sandy Black fashion knitwear label, she sold to fashion stores internationally, then developed the successful Sandy Black knitting yarns and kits. She then went into education and became director of undergraduate and postgraduate fashion and textiles programmes at University of Brighton and London College of Fashion, where she developed the MA programme in Fashion Studies.
Sandy focuses on interdisciplinary design-led research, in the context of sustainability. She developed the Interrogating Fashion research group in 2005, (a Designing for the 21st Century EPSRC/AHRC funded initiative), and leads the Considerate Design project which aims to assist designers in developing sustainable fashion products to ultimately reduce fashion consumption but increase consumer delight. She publishes widely on fashion, textiles and knitwear design and sustainability, and their intersection with science and technology. Her most recent books are The Sustainable Fashion Handbook published in 2012 by Thames and Hudson to international acclaim and Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft also published in 2012 by V&A Publishing.
Lucy Orta – Chair of Art in the Environment
Professor Lucy Orta is Chair of Art in the Environment at University of the Arts London, her practice draws upon ecological and social issues to create artworks employing diverse media, including drawing, sculpture, installation, couture, painting, silkscreen, photography, video and light, as well as staged ephemeral interventions and performances.
Amongst her most emblematic series are: Refuge Wear and Body Architecture, portable minimum habitats bridging architecture and dress; HortiRecycling, the food chain in global and local contexts; 70 x 7 The Meal, the ritual of dining and its role in community networking; Nexus Architecture, alternative modes of establishing the social link; and Clouds and Water, addressing the increasing scarcity of this vital resource and the problems arising from its pollution and corporate control. Two recent bodies of work Antarctica and Amazonia reflect on the value of the natural environment in our daily lives and to our survival. For more details on these projects view Lucy’s website www.studio-orta.com
Major solo exhibitions include: Natural History Museum, London (2010); Shanghai Biennale (2012); Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford (2012); MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (2012); Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown (2013); and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2013).
Katelyn Toth-Fejel – Research Assistant
Katelyn Toth-Fejel is an artist, designer and natural dye specialist. Over the last decade her teaching has focused on increasing the take up of plant dyes as a local and ecological option for vibrant colour with particular emphasis on those dyes which are seasonally available and allow for uniquely regional hues, foraged in urban settings or cast off from agriculture. This work has been featured in numerous UK publications including the recent book: Lost in London, Adventures in the City’s Wild Outdoors.
Katelyn is a partner of the design collective Here Today Here Tomorrow with a studio and shop in East London. The shop showcases different elements of sustainable fashion and accessories such as high quality handmade craftsmanship, durability, localism, recycling, organic materials, individuality, fair trade and transparent production as well as featuring Katelyn’s natural dye work.
In her role at CSF Katelyn facilitates the Local Wisdom Network, an international research project exploring satisfying and resourceful practices associated with using clothes.
Emma Rigby- Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Emma Rigby is a postdoctoral research fellow. Her research and teaching explores fashion design as an interconnected relationship between social, material and environmental contexts. Emma’s doctoral research uses clothes laundry as a medium through which to examine how fashion design, resource consumption and sustainability are tied into social practices. Her research approach is practice-led and draws on empirical and observational methods to access user experience as a place from which to engage theory with design practice.
Over the past decade Emma has developed a broad and varied experience of both teaching and curriculum design spanning across undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has worked for various design companies in London and Melbourne, and was a previous partner of Here Today Here Tomorrow: a collaborative studio and shop based in East London.
Camilla Palestra – Associate Curator
Camilla’s curatorial interest lies in artistic practices that reflect on aspects of our contemporary society, understanding history as a trajectory towards the future. Her professional approach is connected to the socio-political environment and its diversity, seeing art as a tool to challenge our knowledge and perspective.
Camilla worked as a writer and researcher at SKIRA publishing house, as Public Programme Curator at MART Museum, Trento (Italy), and Research Associate at Culture + Conflict before joining the University of the Arts London as Curatorial Research Assistant in 2007. From 2015 she is CSF Associate Curator. At UAL she co-ordinated and curated a series of projects including the European project EU-Roma (2007-2010), Voice for Change and Relational Geographies exhibitions at the UAL Showroom (2015) and the ongoing Art for the Environment International Residency Programme.
Camilla holds a BA in History of Art and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art in London.
Zoe Norton – Research Centre Administrator
Zoe’s background is in Textile Design, specialising in printed textiles predominately for interior products and with a focus on digital print. Her work looks at the connection between designer and consumer, aiming to create prints that hold a connection and evoke emotion to the user and in turn create product longevity. Zoe is the co-founder of textile collective Print, Tuft and Fold, exhibiting at leading design shows such as Tent London and 100% Design.
At CSF Zoe uses her creative, analytical and strong interpersonal skills to lead the Centre’s research voice. This includes supporting CSF’s Professors with current and incubation projects, planning and managing the Centre’s publications as well as assisting the wider team with events. Zoe also offers support to CSF’s early career researchers and PhD community, alongside the Centre’s PhD recruitment.
Emma Darwall Smith – Research Centre Administrator
Emma studied for her degree in Dramatic Arts at Bretton Hall, Leeds University and went on to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She worked for eight years in theatre, film, TV and radio in the UK and internationally.
She then set up a business, Personal Presentation Skills helping individuals and small groups with communication skills for presentations, lectures and interviews. She continues to work with professionals in the public, private and charitable sectors.
Emma is currently studying for a Masters in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, and is working towards a novel.
As Research Centre Administrator Emma hopes to bring her verbal and written communication and creativity to the Centre of Sustainable Fashion.
Lizzie Harrison – Research Assistant
Lizzie is a researcher, educator and designer working across academia and industry to explore how fashion in its broadest definition operates in local systems to offer ideas for a more sustainable future. Her work spans different locations across the UK where she has worked with communities to explore materials reuse, skills sharing, repair and (re)manufacture, community based fashion services and making as a tool for resilience and community development. She works closely with local makers, manufacturers and waste handlers across the supply chain, engaging local residents in participatory activity and action based projects.
Lizzie also runs Antiform, a sustainable fashion label with the aim to experiment with the findings of her research to experiment with fashion business models, local supply chains and manufacturing possibilities. The label has received international acclaim while remaining a small flexible test bed for new ideas.
Lizzie joins CSF to work on the Fashion Ecologies Project with Dr Kate Fletcher. For more information visit www.fashionecologies.org
Rosily Roberts – Administrator
Rosily has recently graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art with an MA in the History of Dress, with focus on early twentieth century fashion in Europe and America. While studying for her MA, she interned at the Women’s Environmental Network, where her interest in and knowledge of sustainability really started. During her studies and since graduating, she has written articles about fashion for various blogs and Bloomsbury’s new Fashion Photography Archive.
At CSF, Rosie provides support for a variety of different projects, working closely with the researchers and LCF students. She also manages communications and administration for the centre. She combines her interest in dress history with her passion for and skills in writing, and strong beliefs in the importance of sustainability.