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Whitecliffe Fashion Design Students Head to Copenhagen for Youth Fashion Summit

Four Whitecliffe fashion design students will head to Copenhagen next month to take part in the 2018 Youth Fashion Summit (YFS) which runs from May 13 – 15.

Youth Fashion Summit participantsThree hundred talented students from universities all around the world applied to attend the event, but just 100 were chosen. Whitecliffe Year 4 students Anya Baranova, Jessica Jay, Bridie McCree and Georgia Rahui were amongst them.

YFS focusses on sustainability in the fashion industry and has been described as “the voice of the next generation”. It brings together a variety of institutions, programmes, countries and nationalities with a wide range of fashion industry expertise, to look at long-term sustainable development within the sector.

YFS Project Assistant Julie Kielland says: “YFS and the United Nations Global Compact have joined together to form a partnership which sets out to challenge the 100 most talented students in the fashion industry to create a framework for the industry on how to reach two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) -  namely SDG 3 (to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages) and SDG 5 (to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).” 

This is the second time Whitecliffe students have been invited to the event. BFA and Master of Fine Arts - Fashion Sustainability graduates Sofija Butler, Benjamin Farry, and Courtney Harper attended the 2016 YFS. Whitecliffe HoD Fashion Design Belinda Watt also facilitated a working sustainability focus group for participating students during the summit.

Sofija Butler says attending the 2016 summit had a big impact on her sustainable design practice.

It was fascinating as a follow-on from our Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia trip to India to interact and discuss what sustainability means to the students from different cultures,” says Sofija.

“At Whitecliffe, we were coming from a large focus on natural materials and dyes in terms of working towards a biodegradable end of life for the garment. I approached sustainability as a design challenge, designing garments that presented aesthetically but were produced sustainably. This was contrasted when talking to the European students who often had a focus on recyclable synthetic materials, with a goal of working towards a future where materials can be infinitely recycled.

Coming from the opposite side of the world, we are in some senses quite removed from their trends of thinking. We look to them for academic resources, but I found that the distance meant that in my focus group, I was able to provide a more objective view. For example, I wasn't hoping to be employed by a large fashion house or fast fashion company and I felt less obligated to sweep my cynicisms of their actions (and inactions) aside.

“I came back to New Zealand filled with positivity about our little industry, where we start small businesses with big ideas and then export them to the world. Since my return from that trip I have been noticing the world take notice of us in our smaller sustainable designer brands and recognising that we have a unique perspective - our No. 8 wire approach to future problem solving, as well as the strong relationship building with our local suppliers.”

Pictured here, from left to right: Jessica Jay, Anya Baranova, Bridie McCree, Georgia Rahui.

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