PRESENCE OF SUSTAINABILITY APPROACHES IN FASHION DESIGN ACADEMIC CURRICULA: EVIDENCES FROM SOUTHERN EUROPE
Sustainability is a key topic in the academic research in the most developed and advanced economies. The natural resources are increasingly scarce, and their depletion will have a tremendous impact on the environment and climate changes (McDonough and Braungart, 2002). It is urgent to promote a new attitude and behaviour in the consumers and in the industries stakeholders to keep a light on at the end of the tunnel. Earth, this fantastic planet, is unique!
The fashion industries (textile, clothing and footwear) are responsible for a big environmental impact and have an enormous footprint in several countries (Slater, 2003). It starts with the raw materials (natural, artificial and synthetics), water consumption, the using of dyes and other chemical products, the transportation from far suppliers and producers to the main markets, and finally the Fast Fashion, the main and last “poison” from fashion industries in the last decades.
In southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France and Italy) there are several universities and polytechnics, public and private, where are teaching fashion and design courses in different levels: bachelors, masters and doctoral programs. So, it is very important to prepare the new fashion professionals, designers, engineers, technicians, researchers, marketers and teachers to these new scenarios and challenges (Fletcher and Grose, 2011). Also, these countries are very important players in the fashion industries and they are “new direction’s makers” to other followers. Furthermore, Paris, Milan and Barcelona are global fashion capitals’. But there are “sustainability” courses, approaches or topics in fashion design academic curricula in these European countries?
This paper will present an analysis of academic offers and curricula in these four countries in fashion and design courses: bachelor, master and PhD programs. The discussion will be focused in several aspects of the topics “sustainability”, “eco-design”, “etic fashion”, “slow fashion”, “green products”, “social design” or “slow design”. The way how the universities in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy communicate these topics will be also analyzed and described. In the last year’s social media and websites became the main channels to communicate with the new consumers and to the future candidates that will applying to new jobs in fashion industries, and they are much more aware to sustainability topics.
A qualitative research was developed for six months (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). The methodology followed during the research was documental analysis, using different sources, and the researchers did also a focus group involving master students. The discussion was very interesting, and some ideas can be helpful to redesign or redefine new curricula or new courses, focused on sustainability, and to define learning strategies and tools to prepare future fashion professionals more conscious to sustainable topics.
 K. Slater, Environmental impact of textiles. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Limited and Textile Institute, 2003.
 W. McDonough & M. Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make Things. New York: North Point Press, 2002.
 K. Fletcher and L. Grose, Moda e Sustentabilidade, design para a mudança. São Paulo: Editora SENAC, 2011.
 M. Saunders, P. Lewis and A. Thornhill. Research Methods for Business Students. London: Financial Times Prentice-Hall, 5th ed., 2009.