SAFD and Sustainability
Sustainability is about taking responsibility. To take responsibility for managing the earth’s resources in a way that enables future generations to meet their need to create a good life. It is clear that this is a responsibility that we must all be aware of and act on. The fashion industry faces major challenges in terms of social responsibility and environmental impact, and we must all contribute to solving them and creating a more socially and environmentally industry. That is why we have initiated a work and a process to help us map out our responsibilities – and this is the result of the first part of that work.
We see it as our ultimate task to educate competent fashion designers who, through basic craftsmanship skills, creativity and understanding of contemporary issues, contribute to the development of the fashion industry. And we do so based on three overarching principles that influence our work with sustainability and the way it permeates SAFD – from our use of resources to the way we teach and create partnerships. The principles are Quality & Thoroughness, Craft & Insight as well as Fashion, Creativity & Relevance. In the following, we will review how each principle is fundamental to our approach to teaching the fashion designers of the future and to our contribution to the much-needed sustainable transformation of the fashion industry. Then we have mapped our main focus areas and set work goals for what we should focus on and ensure in the coming years. It is our way of taking responsibility and strengthening the work for a more holistic education, fashion industry and society.
Fashion, Creativity & Relevance
Fashion is the core of SAFD’s work. But our fashion concept is not created from an understanding of rapid trends and the increased speed in the industry. On the contrary, our focus on fashion and clothing means an insistence that clothing should reflect the time we live in and be a mirror of the values, cultures and people we surround ourselves with. It’s not just clothing or textiles – it’s fashion. Therefore, maturity is at the heart of our way of educating designers; they must understand themselves and their work as part of a larger context that can not only help to rethink our relationship to clothing, consumption, materials, production, recycling and the body, but also overall can help to challenge our way of dressing us or our conversations about what is right or wrong. When creativity is coupled with craftsmanship and relevance, it enables designers to create quality products that make sense for both the planet and consumers.
Craft & Insight
At SAFD, we take our time. It is a basic principle that we do not just run after the latest trends or smart buzzwords if they do not make sense to our school, our teaching or our students. This means that we work hard to contextualize everything so that it hits the spot with our students. Likewise, we know that textiles have a huge imprint on both the planet and the people who produce them. Therefore, thoroughness and respect for materials is a crucial cornerstone of our teaching; we want to reduce waste, reuse as often as possible, rethink what can be done and go exploratory and thorough by asking the questions others forget on the go. We believe this provides a strong foundation for teaching our students the techniques and methods that are quite elementary in creating quality clothing. At SAFD, the focus is on the work of the hands, the work with and the creation of the fashion clothes themselves. That is why the teachers at SAFD are some of the fashion industry’s great profiles – especially when it comes to slow design, the great craftsmanship, the design and the respect for materials, people and the planet.
Quality & Thoroughness
The fashion industry has been a co-creator of a consumer culture that has grown so massively that it gradually only contributes negatively to us and the planet’s development. The increased speed of fashion, the increasing number of collections and the speed with which new products are going to the stores has meant that the quality – both in the durability of materials, production, sewing, sales – has generally dropped significantly. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that our teaching is based on quality. Because creating quality that lasts – for a long time – is one of the most important factors in lowering the negative impact of the fashion industry. That is why our teachers are professionals and designers with a deep knowledge of textiles, their composition and their possibilities and limitations. That is why our teaching is designed so that the students understand the scope of what it means to make quality fashion clothes – and so that they can be independent, creative forces themselves. Therefore, it is our perspective that luxury is not about price, but about thoroughness – that thorough, informed choices have been made in the creation of the clothing, the composition of materials and fit, that the clothing is created to be used and that it can last, preferably for a lifetime or more. That’s luxury. It’s quality. It is our cornerstone.
How we take responsibility:
We have acted in a structured manner and have mapped out our most important areas of focus when it comes to working towards a sustainable future. We have done this because we want our efforts to make sense, but also to give us an overview that is both accessible and manageable in a busy day at a small educational institution. Therefore, we have divided our responsibilities into overall main categories, where each category has specified an overall direction as well as some of the goals we want to meet within the next few years.
The areas are:
Resources, Teaching, Partnerships and Publicity
SAFD is a smaller educational institution, but nevertheless it is crucial that we sweep our own door in our resource consumption. Therefore, we have looked in and set the following goals for how we can minimize our own footprint and the resources we derive as a result of our physical premises, our purchases, etc.
- Mapping of our electricity, gas and water consumption as well as waste sorting and handling; influence our landlord to switch to greener solutions as well as source sorting of garbage, preferably together with other tenants, so that our voice is stronger.
- Active work for extra care of premises; remember to turn off lights, turn down radiators, etc. Switch to certified cleaning items throughout the school.
- Only print when strictly necessary and always recycle paper so that it can be printed on both sides of a document – setting up a box for this and clearly focusing on reducing students’ printing use.
- Only purchase organic, fair trade certified or biodynamic milk, coffee/tea, fruit/vegetables, etc. as well as actively minimize food waste by making a plan for raw materials that is about to expire.
Teaching is the core at SAFD and is where our principles stand out most clearly. Through constant dialogue between students, teachers and management, we create a flexible space for development and learning. The teaching is organized on the basis of creativity, thoroughness and with a focus on craftsmanship. The teachers each contribute their approach to sustainability, which overall spans the entire value chain from material knowledge to design and recyclability. In this way, a broad knowledge is created as well as the opportunity for critical reflection under expert guidance.
- Coordinated efforts for all teachers, who together map how their subjects contribute to teaching sustainable principles and ensure that students during a full education understand the entire value chain and its imprints, including: materials (fibers, imprints, origin, sourcing, durability, application possibilities), production (global production conditions, social inequality, working conditions, etc.), design (circular principles, zero waste, social conditions – body, gender, identity etc.), consumption/communication, life cycle, etc.
- Coordinated efforts for all teachers to identify whether anyone wants upskilling in individual areas of sustainability, the principles behind, etc.
- Ensuring an annual external inspiration presentation on sustainability for all students and teachers.
- Clear strategy for material use; always buy/get surplus materials or waste where possible, minimize waste in teaching by continuous teaching in zero waste design, ensure teaching in the imprint of different materials on the planet and people.
SAFD is deeply connected to the Danish and European fashion industry, with other institutions and brands and companies employing our educated fashion designers. Therefore, partnerships are a crucial part in our continuous development. We actively seek to create partnerships with other educational institutions, knowledge partners and companies. Through partnerships, we develop our own competencies, contribute to the development of the industry, strengthen the sustainability agenda and ensure the transition from education to work.
- Establish network meetings with a focus on knowledge sharing about sustainability.
- Create dialogue with industry associations and other actors on a common direction.
- Actively seek out collaborations with companies across the value chain with a focus on material utilization and the bridge from education to work.
SAFD is rooted in the Danish and international fashion industry. By hiring teachers with extensive experience and their own practice, students gain direct knowledge and concrete tasks and issues that reflect reality outside the school’s doors. At the same time, we as an educational institution must contribute to the conversations about the sustainable development of fashion and we must raise our voice and our efforts to create even more focus on how SAFD works to ensure that change. Therefore, we need to ensure more focus on public work so that we can set agendas that make sense. It can be through industry collaborations, attitude work and PR, social media, fashion shows and events or teaching the public in techniques that reflect a sustainable future and a care for the good quality.
- Create a public voice that conveys SAFD’s approach to sustainability.
- Conduct events such as fashion shows and presentations that convey our principles through design – Develop our presence on social media and website based on our principles.
- Be proud of our graduates and actively show how they work in a committed and thorough way in the Danish and international industry with a high professional level.
- Improve craftsmanship and technical skills in the Danish fashion industry – Contribute to slower consumption by offering courses to the public.