“We are destroying the planet, but not only the planet. We are destroying people’s lives and so many other things, we are not even aware of it,” says Clémence Blanc, an MA Luxury Fashion Management student at IFM, working on a project in collaboration with the brand Isabel Marant. “Sustainability means the future- it means something important to all of us. On every single level. Originally, I wanted to work for the government because I was and still am deeply concerned about the way this topic is handled through public policies and laws,” she continues. In their project, they developed a 360-degree sustainable communication approach for the brand. “This project aims to add sustainability. When it comes to communication, you need to have the bouillon (soup base in French) first before you can serve the soup. Isabel Marant’s sustainability certificates were our base, our buillon. We added the right spices to the base with our strategy,” says Claudia Chmielowiec, another member of the Isabel Marant project team.
Until today, youth is fetishized yet not taken seriously by the big brands from any industry. Working with Isabel Marant, and most importantly being listened to make the experience worthwhile, says the student team. Samia Larouiche, an MBA global fashion management student and WA (off) podcast founder worked on a project in collaboration with Balenciaga: “The Balenciaga teams were very committed and available for this project and the exchanges were very rich. The limits of this industry can be no longer ignored by players: brands, luxury houses, government, NGO, media consumers, citizens,” she adds.
What makes participation in these projects worthwhile for students? Is it the brand approval on the CV, the learning experience or something else?
“Those past six months working on this project were really tough,” says Olivia Richard, another member of the Balenciaga student team. “We worked day and night on it… but to know that this is currently being considered by Balenciaga is the most rewarding price of them all,” she says. “I gained a lot of confidence. I had to defend my project, and when it comes to sustainability, it’s something you really have to fight for. It was really empowering,” says Clémence. Dancing in the storm of sustainability is not as easy as dancing in the storm of capitalism it seems. “It takes a lot of acceptance and tolerance- for the fact that we as students don’t know everything, but we can do our best to learn,” Claudia explains. Her team member Clémence states that the project has taught her to believe in the power of working as a team. Even if it gets difficult, it is worth it all the way.
The planet is burning, according to Camille Herry, who participated in the project with Chloé, our time might be running out in eight years. There is no tomorrow, in fashion we need to act now. Projects like this certificate might not be the ultimate solution to the bigger picture, but it builds bridges where sky-high borders used to dominate the landscape. And maybe this newfound bond between the old and the new to create a new tomorrow is what pushes fashion education in the right direction.