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Ethical Fashion

How an Ontario College Is Teaching Ethical Practices in the Fashion Industry

Fanshawe College Fashion Design Faculty
Sponsored by:
Fanshawe College Fashion Design Faculty
Sponsored by:
Leigh Ann Walker-Fanshawe College

Leigh Ann Waller

Program Coordinator, Fanshawe College

Fanshawe College’s award-winning Fashion Design program has seamlessly integrated sustainability, diversity, and inclusion into all of its practices.

Fanshawe College’s Fashion Design Program Recognized Nationally for Program Excellence

Established in 1973, Fanshawe College’s Fashion Design program is a three-year advanced diploma that has evolved in lock-step with industry trends over the years with a recent focus on teaching graduates in slow fashion the principles of ethical, sustainable fashion and human-centred design.

The program’s dedicated team of faculty and staff work with internal and external partners to create exceptional learning experiences for students, including live client assignments, co-op placements, innovative research projects, and exposure to industry leaders.

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The longevity of Fanshawe’s Fashion Design program — now in its 49th year — speaks to the ongoing effectiveness of the program in meeting the evolving needs of both learners and industry.

In 2021, the Fashion Design program was recognized for its program innovation with two prestigious awards: The President’s Distinguished Program Award and Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) Program of Excellence Silver Award.

“I’m proud to work with a diverse faculty team whose passions drive the evolution and innovation of our curriculum to be current, relevant, and student-focused,” says Leigh-Ann Waller, Coordinator of the Fashion Design program at Fanshawe College.

From the Runway to the Big Screen

COVID-19 led to changes — from an in-person runway-style fashion capstone project to fashion films through collaboration by Fanshawe College students and faculty. These films were produced by students mentored by faculty from the Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing and Management, Music Industry Arts, Photography, Film and Visual Effects, and Editing programs.


UNBOUND “Revival” 2020

Students from the Fashion Design program at Fanshawe College experienced the shift from traditional studio space to home-based design studios during the Covid-19 pandemic. Adaptability and resiliency emerged as themes alongside the original concept of sustainability in the fashion industry.

Unbound Revival takes a poetic glimpse at the challenges, adjustments, and successes of the class of 2020 as they transformed their educational experience because of COVID-19.


UNBOUND “Rosetta.exe” 2021

Rosetta.exe is a social and environmental impact film. An intelligent robot named Rosetta is created through facets of fashion, science, technology, design, and the arts. Rosetta represents a possibility for the future relationship between artificial and human creativity within nature.

By pairing the human spark for inspiration with the productive power and near limitless technical skill of AI, art and creativity as a whole can be elevated to new heights. Rosetta’s story mirrors our own as we strive to make the choices that will one day reconnect us in an otherwise surreally distant time.


UNBOUND “One = People + Planet” 2022

ONE is a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers and designers. Through the art of storytelling, this film brings the imagination of a young Indigenous girl to life as she sits by the campfire, reading the book “One = People + Planet.”

Fashion doesn’t simply exist; it’s grown from the land, harvested from the sea, tempered by fire, and tested against the wind.

It’s Worth it: The Partnership Paving The Way in Textile Research

Fanshawe’s Fashion Design program provides experiential learning for its students with research opportunities through the application of practical knowledge studied in the classroom studio. For the past five years, in partnership with Goodwill Industries Ontario Great Lakes, students have participated in authentic workforce environments with a focus on apparel sustainability and circularity. This has been particularly actualized by Worth.

Worth ( is a sustainable, circular fashion initiative that provides skills training, jobs, and solutions — primarily re-manufacturing — for end-of-use, post-consumer textiles. It began as a research project conducted by fashion design faculty and powered by Goodwill Industries.

Through intentional design, empowering a workforce of skilled professionals and diverting textiles from landfills through circular processes, many real-life employment experiences have been gained by a wide range of students. To date, Worth has provided 22 students with outside-of-the-classroom learning with support from five college faculty as mentors; and this will continue as MITAC funding for numerous internships until 2025 has been secured through the Goodwill Industries partnership.

Worth’s purpose is to foster sustainability for people, the planet, and the community. Mission-driven and sustained by Goodwill Industries, Worth transforms end-of-use textiles into new second-life products. In doing so, the brand offers skills training and decent employment at a fair wage with work in a safe environment to persons with barriers to employment, enabling them to move forward to self-sufficiency while diverting textile waste from landfills and creating a sustainable fashion brand.

Follow Worth on Facebook and Instagram @seetheworth.

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