Bachelor of Fine Arts - Fashion + Sustainability

Whitecliffe Fashion + Sustainability graduates think creatively, take risks, and have a high level of industry standard technical skill.

They are innovators with a personal vision who build careers as highly respected professionals within the Fashion industry. The Whitecliffe Fashion + Sustainability major encourages students to challenge the traditional boundaries of fashion and to foster their creativity while developing high levels of experimentation and technical skills.

Key dates

Feb 2021 Intake 16 • 02 • 21

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3 Years, full-time. Auckland


Bachelor's Degree (Level 7) 360 credits


2021 Domestic $9,051 + $300 Student Services Levy
2021 International $27,000 + $300 Student Services Levy
Fees free applies
All 2021 fees are subject to change and regulatory approval

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Bachelor of Fine Arts - Fashion + Sustainability Course Outline

The Whitecliffe Fashion + Sustainability major encourages students to challenge the traditional boundaries of fashion and to foster their creativity while developing high levels of experimentation and technical skills.

Why choose Fashion Design at Whitecliffe?

Our Fashion + Sustainability department is highly regarded both in New Zealand and overseas. Whitecliffe Fashion + Sustainability graduates are original thinkers and designers, with high standards of industry methodology and professionalism. Industry internships and other industry opportunities are created for students during their studies. Whitecliffe graduates are sought after and successfully take their place both nationally and internationally in a wide range of fashion industry positions.

The Whitecliffe Fashion + Sustainability department has a strong focus on sustainability and students are encouraged to embrace innovative and sustainable fashion practices throughout their studies. Sustainability is part of an expanding branch within the fashion industry that focuses on social responsibility and environmental impact, the use of sustainable and organic materials, disuse of harmful chemicals and dyes and a reduction of textile waste. Whitecliffe students are given the opportunity to employ sustainable practices to address contemporary concerns within the industry and enhance their own design practice and become innovators within their field.

Students and graduates win national and international awards of note and are supported and encouraged to enter competitions.

We foster original thinking and individual design aesthetics. The educators at Whitecliffe are all practising artists and designers who provide an inspirational and professional learning environment.

Students learn design research, concept development, fashion history, theory and illustration, and contemporary fashion design creating innovative collections that reflect individual design identity.

High professional standards of industry methodology are taught including tailoring skills in patternmaking and garment construction, and fabric manipulation the art of folding, tucking, darting and cording to create three-dimensional shapes for innovative design.


Year One

Year One for Fashion + Sustainability students includes a combination of both general arts and design with specialist Fashion courses. The programme covers practical and theoretical skills and knowledge where students develop core skills in design, drawing, materials and processes, together with critical and contextual studies.

Study includes supervised studio practise, lectures, tutorials and self-directed learning. Visual Theory, Cultural Studies, and Modern Art and Design History introduce the vocabulary of art history and contemporary theory in support of practical courses and fine art studio practice. Students will be taught both historical models and contemporary content specific to Fine Arts.

The Semester One programme is specifically intended to best prepare students for one of the BFA specialist areas. Fashion + Sustainability students begin their specialism in Semester One and are guided through structured projects and examine the process of drawing, art-making and design within the compulsory courses: 5101 Drawing, 5102 Design and 5103 Materials & Processes. Students also participate in intensive week-long workshops that enable them to collaborate in teams and/or work independently to produce collective creative outcomes. Workshop projects may include co-producing a graphic novel, a short film/video, Tikanga Māori and harakeke weaving techniques.

Critical and Contextual Studies

A fully integrated programme of critical and contextual studies supports all studio specialisms. Visual Theory initiates students into the language of critical discourse and critique. Students learn to analyse, critique, discuss, write and conduct research related to the practice of art and design. Cultural Studies and Modern Art and Design History assist students in positioning their art and design practice within a broader cultural and historical context.

Year One Fashion + Sustainability courses

Students wishing to specialise in Fashion + Sustainability will be required to complete the 5300 Studio Practice: Fashion Design course throughout the year. The course is considered fundamental to fashion design practice and will include a balance of contemporary and traditional skills and knowledge. For example, the course content may include the following: Sewing methods, Fashion studies, Pattern cutting and Garment construction and Adobe Illustrator for Fashion.

Year One Electives

Additional to the specialist major-specific courses, students have an opportunity to select from a range of elective courses. Elective courses enable the year one student to test out other specialist areas, before firming up their decision to specialise in a subject area. Elective courses are available throughout the year and may include the following:

• 5202 Community Engagement

• 5203 Painting

• 5302 Screen printing

• 5402 Graphic Print Processes

• 5403 Mapping for Graphic Design

• 5404 Publication Design

• 5502 Reading the Photographic Image

• 5503 Intermedia

• 5504 Digital Imaging

Bianca Lim-Yip

Year Two

Year Two students can choose a specialist area to work in, such as women’s wear, men’s wear, or children’s wear, within an overall framework of both historical and contemporary investigation and collection development.

The Fashion + Sustainability programme has a strong focus on sustainable practices and students are encouraged to consider environmental and social concerns within the global fashion industry and their own fashion practice. Students work with natural dyes, craft techniques, organic fabrics, deadstock fabrics, recycled materials, and minimal or zero waste pattern cutting methods.

Students participate in a tailoring module, an up-cycling project employing sustainable practices, fabric manipulation, fashion illustration, Illustrator for Fashion and design and make a collection to present at the Whitecliffe Fashion Show. Students also gain industry experience through their participation in New Zealand Fashion Week.

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 + Sustainability topics that support students to evaluate complex issues and discuss critical frameworks relevant to contemporary fashion design.

As students progress from Year One to Year Two, their ability to apply more advanced skills and knowledge and critically reflect on their practical research work undertaken in the studio.

Entrepreneurship I provides an opportunity for Year Two students to apply their creative, practical and theoretical knowledge with an introduction to small business start-ups, marketing and public relations that lead to more integrated and substantiated studio research projects and prepare students for their careers beyond completing their degree.

Critical and Contextual Studies in Years Two and Three

The integrated programme of critical and contextual studies continues in Years Two and Three. In Year two students undertake a one-semester course in Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Survey, that addresses contemporary theory and debates around the subject specialism of their choice. Year three students extend this learning in Issues in Contemporary Practice II and Entrepreneurship II which includes the opportunity for applying knowledge in a work placement. During these internships, students gain valuable insight into working conditions and foster important networks for the future.

In addition, students select from a range of theory elective courses that are offered within a suite of Year Two and Year Three courses. The courses include a variety of topics that strategically deepen students' contextual, theoretical and practice-based inquiries. Students select from the following:

• 6105 Intellectual Property and Creative Industries

• 6120 Art and Design for a Sustainable World

• 6121 Contemporary Art: Asia and the Pacific Rim

• 6122 Relational Aesthetics

• 6123 Scripting the Body

• 6125 The Post-Postcolonial and Globalisation

• 6126 Gender & Identity and Contemporary Media

• 6127 Age of Enlightenment

• 6128 Making Art in a Globalised World

• 6129 Public Project

Zuzana Edwards

Year Three

Year Three students concentrate on developing a conceptually based, creative range of garments that reflects their personal style and prepares them for the fashion industry. Local fashion designers visit the studio to give students critical feedback on their design process.

Students expand their knowledge of sustainable practices and pattern cutting and garment construction, employing industry methodology and workroom practices. At the end of the year students produce a graduation collection lookbook and present at the Whitecliffe Fashion Show.

King Kang Chen

Postgraduate Study: BFA (Hons) NZQF Level 8

Whitecliffe BFA graduates are industry-ready at the end of their three-year degree.

Included in the suite of Whitecliffe post-graduate programmes, Whitecliffe offers an additional one year, stand-alone BFA Honours qualification, directly following on from the BFA degree, with places available by application only. Its purpose is to consolidate the learning and achievements of the BFA through the realisation of a sustained practice-based, studio-centred, research inquiry and to further prepare students for professional life as creative practitioners or for ongoing postgraduate study. Attainment of this qualification allows for a five-year pathway to Masters degree completion for those students interested in further academic study.

Tom Munday

Key Information for Students

NZ Government key information link for students, that provides more information to support your decision making for this programme

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What to expect from the BFA Degree

The four majors offered within the Bachelor of Fine Arts are Fine Arts, Photo Media, Fashion Design and Graphic Design.

Students have the opportunity to experience all areas of specialisation offered at Whitecliffe in Semester One before moving into their chosen specialist areas in Semester Two of Year One. This broad initiation into the range of disciplines in the first year increases appreciation of the arts and helps students make an informed choice of major.

Students are encouraged to exhibit to develop professional skills of planning, executing and presenting work within a critical environment. The programme's philosophy is to combine creative research skills with solid awareness of the public and professional requirements of visual arts professions. It's a liberating, exciting and challenging way to learn. The final year culminates in graduating exhibitions by students from Fine Arts, Photo Media, Fashion Design and Graphic Design.

Creativity requires a combination of imagination, focus and flexibility. Increasingly, fine arts graduates are receiving recognition as creative thinkers and innovative problem solvers who can successfully adapt to many industries and roles through utilising the transferable skills they accrue in their arts or design degree programme.

The Whitecliffe Bachelor of Fine Arts programmes are based on a uniquely student-centred approach that recognises and nurtures diverse needs and passions. Through these programmes students are exposed to a combination of new media and contemporary concepts while building up knowledge of traditional materials, skills and attitudes. Problem-solving skills and creative responses are emphasised and encouraged.

As well as further developing individual creative talents, students learn critical thinking, research, communication and presentation skills. Study is supported at every level by theoretical and professional practice courses.

Harriet Lewis

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

• Designer

• Design Assistant

• Workroom Assistant


• Sample Machinist

• Production

• Buyer

• Merchandiser

• Fashion Stylist

• Wardrobe Assistant

• Visual Merchandiser

• Fashion Retail

• Fashion Public Relations

• Fashion Marketing

• Fabric Range Designer

• Fashion Journalism

• Design Educator

Find out more about career opportunities

Industry Partners

Fashion + Sustainability

Talk to our team

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