New curriculum for fashion students promotes Compassion in Fashion

A joint venture promoting sustainable, fur-free fashion was launched at a workshop last week. The curriculum is a collaboration between London College of Fashion (LCF), Shanghai International college of Fashion and Innovation at Donghua University (SCF), and ACTAsia.

The workshop took place in Shanghai, bringing together some of the world’s top fashion-educators. It was led by Dilys Williams, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at LCF and John Lau, Associate Dean of the School of Design and Technology also LCF. Their message underlined the corporate responsibility of the fashion world, and how fledgeling designers should enter the international world of fashion with a keen sense of sustainability, as well as consideration for the animals and environment which have historically been exploited by the industry.

Around 20 teaching staff from seven fashion colleges in China, Taiwan and Singapore attended, to learn about some cutting-edge fashion concepts. Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation (SCF) at Donghua University, School of Fashion Design of Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Design at Sanda University, Clothing Department at Ningbo University, Luxury and Innovation Institute of Shanghai campus of ESSCA School of Management, Department of Fashion Design at Shih Chien University from Taiwan, and LASALLE College of the Arts from Singapore were all represented at the event.

Opening the workshop, Director of Programmes for ACTAsia, Dawn Peacock, introduced the inspiration behind the new programme. “We believe that change begins with education,” said Dawn, “especially within the fashion schools that nurture future designers. ACTAsia aims to instil a sense of pride and responsibility among the young designers who enter the world’s second most polluting industry, and that means keeping real fur out of fashion, and limiting the toll of carbon emissions and chemical run-off which are devastating to nature. Jun Lee, Executive Vice Dean of SCF, confirmed it is critical that China’s fashion world addresses these issues due to its growing population and huge impact on the world. The audience was reminded of a statement by Director of the Sustainable Development Project of the China Textile Industry Federation’s Social Responsibility Office, Hu Kehua, who attended this year’s Fashion Forum, “There is no way to ignore China’s global sustainable development. After all, China’s textile industry’s production accounts for more than 60% of the world.”


Professor Dilys Williams began by gathering a wish-list of sustainability from the audience of teachers, which included health and happiness, no fur, environmental protection, ecological materials, craftsmanship, well-being, quality, respect, local traditions, future generations, and clean air and water.

Professor John Lau, who is the primary developer of the Sustainable, Fur-Free Fashion Curriculum, pointed to ACTAsia’s two recent reports on fur farming and production: Toxic fur and China’s fur trade and its position in the global industry He stressed that production and consumption of fur in China is the highest in the world, and the impact this has on the entire industrial chain of fur-fashion, including animals and the environment.

The teachers were invited discuss how to integrate the messages of the workshop into existing multi-disciplinary courses in each  respective institution, considering design, communication, brand management, teaching hours and learning outcomes, with productive results.

The curriculum for fashion students will launch in two fashion colleges in China in 2020 (as yet undecided), but will consequently reach further across Asia, and eventually across continents.

“There is no place for fur in the 21st century,” said ACTAsia CEO Pei Su. “Not only do we have innovative materials to replace real fur, but social perception is changing. Fur is no longer a symbol of fashion, but instead a symbol of the exploitation of people, animals and the environment. Fur-free is not just a fad; it reflects a transformation of social values, and China is in a position to lead Asia in this compassionate trend.”


At the Sustainable, Fur-Free Fashion Forum earlier in the week, John Lau described the devastation so commonly caused to the environment by the fashion industry

Teachers and professors from seven fashion colleges in Asia attended the Curriculum Workshop to discuss a more compassionate future for the fashion industry