Anamaria Fuentes De Carvalho
Third-year student, Bachelor of Fashion Design, LaSalle College
LaSalle College’s new Bachelor of Fashion Design degree program combines practical skills, creativity, and applied research with an ecological sensibility.
Clothing has evolved from a basic human need to an art form, means of self-expression, and a big industry. However, as we’ve seen in recent years, the fashion industry comes with some high ecological impacts.
To help reduce the industry’s environmental footprint, LaSalle College Vancouver — a private post-secondary educational institution — recently added the Bachelor of Fashion Design with a focus on sustainability to its roster of academic programs. This three-year degree program combines technical skills in pattern drafting, sewing, and production, with creative and applied research-based classes in textiles and an ecological sensibility.
Program focused on creating the next generation of ethical fashion designers
Students in the program are challenged to think critically and develop responsible design collections where they take into consideration the ecological impact of their materials — from fibre content to production and distribution. In addition to focusing on sustainable design principles, such as fashion cycles, innovation, and the importance of quality and wear, the program provides students with the chance to work directly with industry professionals through the practicum component.
A key part of the curriculum is Zero Waste pattern drafting, where students are required to eliminate waste from design to production — a concept that has been a game changer for Anamaria Fuentes De Carvalho, a third-year student in the program. “It was a big shift because normally when we talk about sustainability, it’s about what happens when the fabric gets to its end of life,” says De Carvalho. “In the pattern drafting course it was amazing to learn how we could create a collection of jumpsuits, dresses, shirts, and pants all from a single rectangle with no fabric waste,” says De Carvalho, who credits the program with also helping her to find her sustainability voice. “I’ve worked with some of the major fashion brands in Milan, London, and New York, but none of them offered a view of fashion as being sustainable, whereas here we’re constantly challenged to think about eco-responsibility and I plan to use that to inspire change in the industry,” she says.
New textile lab focuses on quality in manufacturing, creative re-use, upcycling and mending, and problem-solving
Complementing the curriculum is LaSalle’s new Textile Design Lab, a state-of-the-art facility where De Carvalho works part-time as a tutor. “It lets students explore the broader language of textiles and the creative possibilities through access to fabric testing equipment — an embroidery machine, a felting machine — which re-works older fibres into felt fabric, and software to transform a design into stitching language,” she says.
Designing and making clothing is not only an art, but also an important life skill. However, with access to cheap, mass-produced clothing, consumers are losing their connection to how garments are made. “I’ve seen designers that don’t create their fabric any longer, but here in the bachelor’s degree program, rather than thinking of the aesthetic first, we’re exploring the possibilities of the fabric and its possibilities for the consumer and developing clothing that’s not only functional but also of high quality and responsibly made,” says De Carvalho. “I think in doing that we’re empowering ourselves and the consumers,” says De Carvalho.