Bachelor of Sustainable Fashion Design* Course Outline
“Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua - Care for the land, care for the people, go forward” is the core philosophy and vision of this programme.
Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 4).
The Bachelor of Sustainable Fashion Design programme addresses the belief that if we care for the land and the people, we ensure our stakeholders are better stewards of the planet and are more responsible towards ensuring a sustainable and progressive future for the fashion industry. We take pride in providing an educational environment that values and fosters in students and staff Manaakitanga (mutual respect, care, and support), wisdom, courage, agility, and integrity. We provide a collaborative learning and educational environment that values and fosters creative minds to become responsible individuals, by weaving the concepts and values of Whitecliffe and Te Tiriti o Waitangi - protection, participation, and partnership.
The programme acknowledges the urgent need to address the negative environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. The programme redesigns the value of fashion by challenging the conventional ways the industry operates by integrating skills and knowledge of sustainable and innovative design theories and practices to promote learning relevant to the future of sustainable and ethical fashion. The programme offers rich learning opportunities that inspire critical and creative thinkers as future change-makers, enabling them to address the need for rapid, positive, restorative, and regenerative design solutions, through individual and expressive outcomes.
The programme provides an opportunity for students to draw upon their cultural knowledge, social issues, and values and their local community context/s, to be involved in, and to increase their awareness of wider issues within the local and global fashion industry and subsequently, to inform their contribution to this rapidly-changing industry. Students are encouraged to be confident to express their perspectives while developing their ability to be critically reflective and responsive to the broader contexts of influence and significance relevant to their own practice and individual creative inquiry. The programme emphasises ongoing development of attitudes, values, and self-awareness as a foundation for continuing personal and professional effectiveness and growth.
Introduction to the BSFD
Faculty are encouraged to include reference to Māori Tikanga in the initiation and delivery of course content throughout the programme. Students are encouraged to draw from their own cultures and histories when forming ideas and approaches to their sustainable and ethical fashion practice and research and to apply their knowledge of sustainable, innovative, and regenerative practices to express their individual perspectives and critical thinking. The participative, studio-based experiential learning and instruction offer many rich opportunities for students to participate in their practice and research in a culturally appropriate manner.
The studio learning environment supports a range of learning styles and approaches and encourages students to develop an informed respect for the diversity of cultures and values in the studio learning environment.
The programme is creative practitioner, community, and industry-focused, designed to meet the professional needs of the wider sustainable fashion and design industry. It is structured by three key interrelated strands of content: sustainable fashion research and practice, theoretical studies, and creative enterprise. The BSFD degree positions sustainable fashion research and practice as the core philosophy of the programme. All technical, theoretical, and professional knowledge and skills inform and are integrated into the practice of designing and making sustainable and innovative design solutions.
Fashion History and Theory courses are delivered across Years One, Two, and Three of the programme, and encourage and support students’ knowledge about sustainable and ethical fashion design from multiple perspectives and cultural positions. This includes reference to multi-culturalism, diversity, gender, and equality issues, regeneration, and environmental ethics which are addressed through practical and studio research course components. Courses may also include culturally diverse guest speakers, along with the opportunities to address Māori Tikanga and stewardship of Aotearoa.
Industry-focused course content and workshops include Pattern Drafting, Garment Construction, Research and Design, Concept Development, Fabric Manipulation, Tailoring, and Internships. Studio Practice is complemented by courses in Sustainable Fashion Practices, Fashion History and Theory, Fashion Illustration, Illustrator for Fashion, and Natural Dyeing. Students research, design, and develop conceptually-based collections that reflect a personal design aesthetic and incorporate sustainable practices, and produce a professional body of work presented through a Design Portfolio and Lookbook towards their end-of-year course requirement.
Throughout the degree, students focus on areas of personal interest to develop work independently on conceptually based sustainable fashion collections that are informed by relevant research, design, and sustainable fashion theory, thinking, and practices. Their understanding of the subject specialism reflects in their design innovations through original and in-depth design thinking and rigorous research and is presented as a body of creative work executed to an exceptionally high professional standard.
Industry professionals provide invaluable feedback during student critical thinking and design sessions and are regularly invited as guest speakers to lecture on relevant topics related to the fashion industry. Graduates with the Sustainable Fashion Design pathway gain employment nationally as well as internationally as Design Assistants, Patternmakers, Sustainability Consultants, Value Chain Consultants, Production Assistants, Workroom Assistants, Buyers, Stylists, Costumiers, and Design Educators as well as establishing their own sustainable brands.
Sustainable Fashion Design Year One
Year One students wishing to specialise in the proposed Bachelor of Sustainable Fashion Design will be required to complete the Studio Practice courses throughout the year. These courses are considered fundamental to fashion and sustainability practice and include a balance of contemporary and traditional skills, sustainable practices, and knowledge. For example, the course content may include the following:
- Pattern Drafting and Garment Construction
- Earth-Centred Design
- Sustainable Design Practices
- Fashion History and Theory
- Research and Design
Sustainable Fashion Design Year Two
Students progressing into Year Two work within an overall framework of both historical and contemporary investigation and collection development.
Sustainable design thinking and practices are embedded in the proposed Sustainable Fashion Design pathway and students are encouraged to consider environmental and social concerns within the global fashion industry and their own sustainable fashion practice. Students explore and work with natural dyes, craft techniques, organic fabrics, deadstock fabrics, upcycled materials, and minimal or Zero Waste pattern making and cutting methods.
Students participate in a tailoring module, fabric manipulation, fashion illustration, Illustrator for fashion design, and make a collection incorporating industry-relevant methodology and sustainable practices, to present at the annual Whitecliffe Fashion Show. Students also gain relevant industry experience through industry partnered projects and internships.
Studio research assignments, projects, and/ or workshops are mainly lecture-initiated but largely student-directed and are based around a series of in-depth fashion design topics that support students to evaluated complex issues and discuss critical frameworks relevant to contemporary fashion and sustainability.
Course content in Year 2 may include the following:
- Sustainable Fashion Practices and Design
- Nature in Fashion
- Earth-Centred Design Thinking and Practices
- Sustainable Fashion Collection
As students progress further into their studies, their ability to apply more advanced skills and knowledge and critically reflect on their research is developed through their studio practice.
Sustainable Fashion Design Year Three
Students in Year Three concentrate on developing a conceptually based, innovative, and sustainable collection of garments that reflect their personal aesthetic style and prepares them for the global fashion industry. New Zealand based fashion designers visit the studio and provide students with critical feedback on their design process. Students expand on their knowledge of sustainable practices and pattern practices and pattern cutting and garment construction, employing relevant industry methodology and workroom practices. At the end of the year, students produce a Design Portfolio, Collection Lookbook and present at the Annual Whitecliffe Fashion Show.
Course content in Year Three may include the following:
- Sustainable Fashion Research and Design
- Regenerative Design: Fashion Futures
- Creative Enterprise and Internship
- Sustainable Fashion Collection
Life After a BSFD
At the end of the programme, our graduates are equipped with an increased capacity for employment as sustainable change instigators in the global fashion industry. The graduates are adaptive and agile creative professionals who have interpersonal and collaborative skills that can respond positively and creatively to address the urgent need for rapid and positive change in the sustainable fashion industry.
A career in the fashion industry can take graduates from the initial stages of concept development and design through to production and merchandising or buying. They may choose to work in Designer Workrooms, Production, Visual Merchandising for Product Display, or in Fashion Styling for magazines and photoshoots, Costume Design for theatre and film, teaching at secondary and tertiary levels, or launch their own brand.
Designers, Patternmakers, Visual Merchandisers, and Stylists work at the creative end of the markets; and Sustainability Consultants and Buyers are involved in Fashion Forecasting and Sourcing, and presenting international trends to the local market.
Our graduates usually begin as Workroom or Production Assistants before moving into Patternmaking, Designing, Sample Machining, Sustainability Consulting, and Fashion Styling, Senior Merchandising, and Buying positions. They can also become involved in Fabric Research and Development. Participation in industry-partnered projects and internships, enhance studio learning by providing the opportunity to gain practical work experience in the fashion industry and increase graduates’ chances of employment and career possibilities. Careers can, for the dedicated, lead to the development of a fashion business which is why the programme includes a course in Creative Enterprise with a focus on business and marketing practices. Many graduates begin working with a prominent designer and, after gaining relevant industry experience, move on to create their own design label or brand.
The Sustainable Fashion Design sector in New Zealand has grown significantly in the last ten years. This has created more opportunities than ever for graduates, such as online fashion businesses, public relations and marketing, styling, creating fashion blog sites, and journalism.
Key Information for Students
Domestic Student Entry Requirements:
- Completed application form
- Applicants must demonstrate an ability to undertake degree level study, including appropriate knowledge and skills in the areas of written communication and mathematics, by having achieved:
- University Entrance: NCEA Level 3 or above and 20 credits at NCEA Level 2 or above, including: NCEA Level 3; 14 credits each in three approved subjects and UE Literacy (NCEA Level 2 or above; 10 credits with 5 credits each in reading and writing) and UE Numeracy (NCEA Level 1 or above; 10 credits) OR
- New Zealand Certificate in Apparel and Fashion Technology qualifications (Level 4) OR
- New Zealand Certificate in Arts and Design (Level 4) OR
- New Zealand Certificate in Digital Media and Design (Level 4) OR
- A New Zealand or overseas qualification assessed to be equivalent to the above by the Head of School OR
- Passes in other certificate/diploma qualifications or courses as considered appropriate by the Head of School
- Applicants who do not meet the above criteria may be eligible for admission with the approval of the Head of School
- Interview: Applicants are required to attend an interview to determine their suitability for the programme. During the interview, the applicant will be assessed against the following aspects to determine their admission into the programme:
- Letter of Intent
- Portfolio: present 12-24 representative examples of creative work that reflect skills and potential to successfully complete the programme
- Letter of Intent: write a 250-word letter of intent about why you want to enrol in the programme.
International Student Entry Requirements:
- Completed application form
- Passport copy
- Minimum age: International students must be at least 18 years of age during their first semester of study.
- IELTS Academic overall score of 6.0 with no band less than 5.5 or equivalent
- Academic Transcripts: School or previous tertiary results
- Interview: Applicants are required to attend an interview to determine their suitability for the programme.
- During the interview, the applicant will be assessed against the following aspects to determine their admission to the programme:
- Letter of Intent
- Interviews of International students can be conducted by phone or skype. Portfolios can be provided in digital format.
- Portfolio: present 12 – 24 representative samples of creative work that reflect skills and potential to successfully complete the programme
- Letter of Intent: write a 250-word letter of intent about why they want to enrol in the programme.
- Full-time study: International students enrolled into a degree or higher-level programme, including low residence and/or online or blended learning delivery, will be required to enrol into 60 credits per semester and meet the attendance requirements of the programme.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Requirements:
- i3 dual-core or equivalent processor
- 4GB RAM
- 320GB or higher hard drive with 50GB free space minimum
- Wireless capability 802.11n dual-band
- Up-to-date antivirus software
- Windows 10 or Apple Mac OS 10.6 (Leopard) or higher, preferably 10.x Yosemite or higher or MacBook Air with M1 Chip (base model)
- Internet and data plan
- No: Chromebooks, Windows X or Windows S OS Tablets (except Windows Surface Pro)
Belinda WattHead of School - Fashion & Sustainability
Belinda joined Whitecliffe College in 1990 as Head of Department and established and developed the Fashion + Sustainability Programme.Continue reading
Liz FarrSenior Lecturer
Liz is a graduate of the London College of Fashion and has been lecturing in the Fashion Design department at Whitecliffe College since 2005.Continue reading
Harita holds a Master's Degree in Sustainable Design from Massey University, New Zealand.Continue reading
Where could this programme take you?
A career in the fashion industry can take you from the initial stages of concept development and design through to production and merchandising or buying for high fashion chain stores. Fashion Design graduates may choose to work in designer workrooms, production, visual merchandising for product display or in fashion styling for magazines and photoshoots. Costume design for theatre and film and teaching at secondary and tertiary levels are other excellent career opportunities.
Jobs related to this programme
• Design Assistant
• Workroom Assistant
• Sample Machinist
• Fashion Stylist
• Wardrobe Assistant
• Visual Merchandiser
• Fashion Retail
• Fashion Public Relations
• Fashion Marketing
• Fabric Range Designer
• Fashion Journalism
• Design Educator
Fashion + Sustainability
Talk to our team
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