A new postgraduate programme starts in autumn 2023 at Istituto Marangoni, London.

Why MA Responsible Fashion? It has never been more important for prospective fashion professionals to be able to think critically and creatively about their values, activities and practices, and to define the potential positive impacts they might make in their future careers. Key to developing ideas for sustainable fashion and design futures will be the ability to work collaboratively and the capability to think holistically with people from different disciplinary backgrounds and with different stakeholders, to bring into being new systems, paradigms, approaches, business models, design strategies, fashion clothing and products that are responsible and regenerative for the wellbeing of peoples and planet.

The MA Responsible Fashion programme is about reimagining the future of the fashion industry in philosophical, theoretical, experimental and practical ways.

From the Anthropocene to the Symbiocene

Responding to the urgent need for critical fashion professionals, Istituto Marangoni London School has developed a new, cutting-edge multidisciplinary MA Responsible Fashion programme that is designed to equip students with the knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and strategies that are crucial to meet the challenges of the Anthropocene and that may help to move us towards the Symbiocene. Fundamental to this new programme is an acknowledgement that climate change and environmental degradation have been enabled by our disconnect from a natural world – of which we are really part – in ways that have allowed damage to our air, soils, and seas and to go unnoticed until it is almost too late. In our race towards ‘progress’, we have disregarded the systems of the natural world and the technologies of many indigenous communities that have sustainably been performed for centuries or even millennia, which reveal how we might collaborate with nature rather than work in opposition to her, and from which we must now learn with humility. Through finding new systems for fashion, new relationships and new connections, transferrable knowledge will be gained that may transition us to live in a mutually enhancing relationship with the whole Earth community, to support a move from the Anthropocene to the Symbiocene. The fashion industry needs people that can apply their intellect and imagination to discover solutions rather than perpetuate problems, to navigate uncharted paths to the Symbiocene; it is therefore anticipated that this programme will produce highly employable, forward-looking graduates that can offer bold, new insights and work across disciplines.

Programme overview

Therefore, on MA Responsible Fashion, students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds will work together rethink the future of the fashion system in philosophical, theoretical, experimental, creative and practical ways, to find innovative, positive and compelling solutions to the challenges we face and to develop ways that fashion may be used as a vehicle for positive change.

Within a framework of lectures, seminars, workshops, practical sessions and field trips, they will develop dynamic, cross-disciplinary collaborations to research, explore and conceptualize and create responsible fashion systems, processes or products that are not just less harmful but aim to be pro-actively positive to people and planet. Through a series of collaborative and individual projects, students will develop and apply a strong theoretical understanding that includes ecological design principles, systems thinking, alternative economics, regenerative systems, future sourcing, indigenous knowledge systems, the local, the politics of luxury, and values-led communication to the development of new fashion systems and beautiful products that reflect their disciplines and goals.

MA Responsible Fashion is open to applicants from a range of undergraduate and professional backgrounds, such as of business, sourcing and supply chain, product development, fashion design, product design, visualisation, promotion, branding or communication; from ecology or other environmental sciences; social sciences; or even agriculture. Whatever their prior experience and future goals, students will be able to address the learning outcomes of the programme in ways that reflect this. For example, through a social innovation project plan; through a small edition of slow fashion garments; through a communication campaign plan; through a supply chain strategy; through an alternative business model.

Programme Director and Team

The MA Responsible fashion programme team comprises academics and professionals at the forefront of critical thinking about what responsible fashion systems might look like.

Dr Kirsten Scott is the Programme Leader for MA Responsible Fashion. She has a background in fashion, accessories and textiles design and has worked for leading international fashion designers, as well as running her own label. She has worked extensively on cross-cultural research collaborations and product development, navigating ethical concerns, the legacies of colonialism, local to global and the realities of diverse fashion markets. Firmly committed to sustainability, she was awarded a PhD by the Royal College of Art in 2012, where she developed a way of designing that was led by materials and whole systems thinking and which aimed to be not only less damaging to people and planet, but pro-actively good. Her current research explores new paradigms of luxury, fashion and wellbeing, and the value and meaning of indigenous knowledge systems in a post-digital era. Thinking through making, her practice has become increasingly collaborative, holistic and multi-disciplinary, concerned with fashion’s potential in benign design. She is an active member of the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, and Fashion Act Now, the Bioladies Network, and a fellow of Royal Society of Arts.

Programme leader Dr Kirsten Scott works with Ugandan bark cloth and experiments with biomechanical design approaches.

Ugandan bark cloth production. The trees do not get harmed in this process.

Kristine H. Harper is a writer and lecturer and the author of several books on sustainable design. Her latest book Anti-trend was written in Bali, Indonesia, where she has lived for the past five years. Harper’s main research areas are resilient design solutions, sustainable living, reduction of consumption through design, cultural tendencies and trends, and the preservation of endangered crafts-traditions. She worked as a lecturer of Sustainable Fashion at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology for a decade, and continues to teach her theories on design, aesthetics, and sustainability at various international design and art academies.

Dr Patrick Elf is a Senior Research Fellow – Social and Sustainable Business at the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR) at Middlesex University and Co-Investigator at the ESRC funded Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) at the University of Surrey. Patrick’s research focuses on investigating avenues for behaviour change approaches towards the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles, and mechanism towards the adaptation of sustainable business models. He has a particular interest in sustainable and transformative consumption and has most recently researched the impact of disruptive events such as the Covid-19 pandemic as facilitators towards sustainable consumption pathways in the context of Brazil. Other recent research projects include interdisciplinary longitudinal work together with the London College of Fashion examining the potential of sustainable small and medium fashion enterprises to advance the circular economy. Patrick leads major research initiatives with IKEA UK on co-creational behaviour change approaches and together with IKEA UK and the National Lottery Community Fund examining the role and the potential of private sector actors driving social cohesion, sustainable development and community well-being.

Marcella Echavarria is a lifestyle specialist. She collaborates with designers and artisans around the world developing links that connect local knowledge with global trends.  Her specialty is branding luxury and sustainability in a way that preserves cultures and traditions. Marcella Echavarria has 25 years of hands on, first-hand experience in starting businesses, establishing bridges between cultures and people and integrating sustainability and profitability. She founded SURevolution in 2005 in collaboration with Donna Karan, one of the first global brands to link the world of luxury with the handmade. In 2010 she started her boutique consulting firm focused on strategic branding and creative communication. She holds a bachelor from Brown University, a masters in sustainable development from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano and a career in the publishing world as editor of magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Hand Eye and contributor to many others such as Selvedge, Vogue, House and Leisure, Cover Magazine, Trend Tablet and Konfekt, among many others. In 2018 Marcella started XTANT, a yearly global gathering dedicated to heritage textiles, along with Kavita Parmar. Her clients include individual creators, artisanal brands, textile related brands, retail concepts, and travel companies, among others. She has led consulting projects for The United Nations (UN), Unesco, USAID, Technoserve, The International Finance Corporation (IFC), The Organization of American States (OAS), Porticus Foundation, The Governments of Spain, Colombia, Chile, Cambodia, México, Perú, and Swaziland. She is a frequent speaker at universities and sustainability forums.

Zoe Gilbertson is a designer, connector and celebrator of others. Her practice is underpinned by extensive fashion design, education and entrepreneurial experience and a recent MA in ecological Design thinking from Schumacher College. Courses such as the Systems View of Life and Cultivating Regenerative Livelihoods contribute to an ongoing learning journey into how humanity can co-evolve new sustainable futures in harmony with all life forms. Zoe recently founded the UK Bast Fibre Network to support and develop bioregional fibre & textile economies. She teaches Ecological Design and Regenerative Fashion with a focus on the Commons. She’s a committed member of activist group Fashion Act Now and the Union of Concerned researchers in Fashion.

Dr. Tanveer Ahmed is Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Race at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Tanveer’s research recognises the urgent need to explore alternative justice-oriented forms of fashion design by centring plural fashion narratives inspired by pre-colonial concepts of fashion.  Working in the emerging field of decolonial fashion has led to Tanveer writing key fashion history modules in the UK that aim to decolonise fashion at The Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins and The American University of Paris. Tanveer’s publications have contributed to the growing body of literatures that aim to decolonise the Eurocentric canon of fashion and recent publications have appeared in B. Barry and D. Christel (eds) (2022). Fashion Education: the systemic revolution and the special issue of Decolonizing Fashion as Process in International Journal of Fashion Studies, 9. Tanveer is currently working on a monograph ‘Fashion and Anti-Racism’ (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2024/5).


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