(Originally posted in Lethbridge Herald)BY CAROLINE ZENTNER firstname.lastname@example.org
Lethbridge College has revamped its fashion design program to include an emphasis on sustainable mass production.
The new program, Fashion Design and Sustainable Production, replaces the former Fashion Design and Marketing certificate program.
Last April, amid funding cuts from the provincial government, the college shut down both the fashion design and the office administration programs. Students protested and the college agreed to reinstate the program so the 11 students in the program could complete their diplomas.
In the meantime, the college worked with the program’s advisory council to create a program that would meet the needs of industry.
“We did a lot of intensive industry research when we decided to redesign the fashion program. There were a couple of things that we deliberately chose to leave off the table,” said Vicki Hegedus, chair of the School of Media and Design.
The college dropped its fashion marketing and costuming courses since those courses are already being offered through Olds College.
“We’ve always focused on mass production. Can our students do custom wear? Yes, absolutely. They could deal with one client and make a one-of-a-kind garment, they will have the skill set to do that,” she said. “But what we’re hearing from industry is a real demand for students who can not only make a strong design, but also understand target market research and know how to design for a target market, how to translate their design into strong production techniques, how to do costing, and work with manufacturers so that the design is translatable into making a thousand or 40,000 or 100,000.”
Another industry trend is eco-fashion or sustainable fashion, where clothing is created with consideration to the environment using environmentally friendly materials and socially responsible methods of production.
“It could be kinds of fabrics, it could be sewing techniques that make a higher quality garment that people are going to keep in their closet longer,” she said. “It’s changing that idea from fast fashion into something a little more classic and sophisticated.”
The program offers four semesters of coursework and the option of a fifth semester with a 200-hour intensive internship, the only diploma internship of its kind in Western Canada. Graduates will be able to work as fashion designers, trend and colour specialists, technical designers, or product developers.
The program has a maximum capacity of 30 students and applications are now being accepted.
“We’d love to see all the seats fill up. It’s going to be a great program,” Hegedus said.