The California College of Arts is now accepting applications for its latest offering in professional development: the Fashion Sustainability Workshop Series and Certificate Program. Described as an “intensive, creative, educational experience,” the program targets fashion pros who want to gain the language, tools, and strategies for creating planet-friendly design. The fashion industry may have been toiling on environmental issues for more than two decades, yet designers are one of the slowest to engage with sustainability, according to Amy Williams, the chair of CCA’s fashion program.

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Photo by Shidume Lozada


“One of the largest hurdles to designers becoming involved in sustainability is that they usually work at the market end of the textile chain, focused on developing styles on trend, keeping ahead of their competition, and meeting the needs of buyers,” she says. “Supply-chain standards and technical issues seem restrictive…a long list of what you can’t do—not very inspiring to a creative mind.”

The impact of a garment goes beyond materials and techniques, says Williams. These are issues best addressed by a design mind.

But the impact of a garment goes beyond materials and techniques, Williams adds. These are issues best addressed by a design mind. “Emotional or intuitive behaviors of the consumer for example, are often missed by the industry’s narrow focus on technical issues in processing,” she says.

The program, led by instructor Lynda Grose and assisted by guest faculty such as Parsons’ Timo Rissanen, aims to fill that breach. CCA has been no slouch in the meantime, however. Graduates of the school have gone on to work with Natalie Chanin, Loomstate, Del Forte (sadly defunct and dearly missed), and Levi’s, while several, including Elizabeth Brunner of Piece x Piece, have launched their own eco-friendly labels.

+ Fashion Sustainability Workshop Series

+ California College of Arts