For four intensive days in June, FIT was a hotbed of sustainability study and activity as we inaugurated our first Summer Institute–an interdisciplinary program that focused specifically on sustainability in fashion and textiles. Designed for industry professionals and academics, it answered a growing need for information on the part of those who want to broaden their understanding of sustainability and, where applicable, integrate it into their businesses. And clearly the need was there because the Institute quickly attracted over 90 applicants from around the world–three times more than it could accommodate. In fact, the Institute’s organizers capped attendance at 30 in order to maintain an optimal learning environment, one in which participants could comfortably and effectively interact with the instructors and with each other.
Participants came from companies as diverse as Eileen Fisher, Karen Kane, and Harley Davidson, and institutions as far reaching as the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India, Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, the University of Idaho, and Mesa Community College in Arizona–not to mention some “closer by” such as Purdue and the University of Kentucky. Indeed, the international component was strong with participants from Ecuador, Denmark, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and numerous individuals from the UK.
Mornings were devoted to lectures and panels on topics such as world fiber consumption, conscious consumerism, eco-fashion design, and 3D design while afternoons were spent in hands-on workshops and labs devoted to screen printing, quality assurance, zero waste, color, and weft knitting technology. Throughout their busy days, the participants came to know one another and got the benefit of their diverse professions and geographic locations–coming to understand the issue of sustainability from many different perspectives. And in a farewell survey, they gave a resounding “thumbs up” to the organizers–many of them expressing an interest in future such opportunities.