online sustainable fashion courses

Sustainable Fashion at Your Fingertips

Whether you want to create your own business, shake up the status quo or just become a more conscious consumer, there’s a lot to learn about the ins and outs of the sustainable fashion industry. A growing number of universities and institutes worldwide are now incorporating sustainability into their syllabuses, and happily there are also a bevvy of online courses and lecture series – many of them totally free – to help learners understand and innovate in the field of fashion. From ‘green HR’ and supply chain management right through to natural dyeing, here are eight online sustainable fashion courses to get you going.

Who Made My Clothes?

This entry-level course aims to enhance learners’ understandings of complex fashion supply chains. Created by the University of Exeter in partnership with Fashion Revolution, an interactive curriculum explores the shortcomings of the fast-fashion system, with a particular emphasis on human rights, environmental impact and transparency. An ideal foundation course for anyone who’s just starting out, the aim is to empower curious consumers to become ethical fashion advocates by teaching them practical skills in inquiry and advocacy.

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Fashion and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World

A collaboration between the London College of Fashion and Paris-based fashion group Kering (the owner of Gucci, Balenciaga and dozens more labels), this course explores sustainability in the hard-to-crack luxury fashion sector. Unique perspectives from the high end of the fashion market reveal how business strategies are evolving to be people- and planet-friendly. The course also covers practical lessons such as sourcing sustainable materials and applying design-thinking to problem solving. Featuring lots of discussion forums and exercises, by the end of the three weeks you’ll have devised your own sustainable fashion manifesto!

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Fashion Factory: Learning the Garment Production Process

To transform a system, you first have to understand how it works. This crash-course in garment production takes learners behind the scenes of a fashion production unit to show you how factories tick. Hosted by a New York-based samples factory with more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, you’ll get a valuable insight into the time pressures and other challenges factories face. What better way to open up a dialogue around change and innovation?

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Natural Dyes

Get ready to take a deep dive into the world of natural dyes. Taught by academics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, a global leader in natural dye development, this epic 40-part lecture series condenses generations of knowledge into bite-sized videos. It puts the evolution of dyes in the garment industry under the microscope, from the development of synthetic dyes, to the move away from AZO dyes, and finally just how and why natural dyes are coming back into fashion. India’s strong traditions of using plant-based dyes is a common thread that runs throughout.

Watch the series here.

Managing Responsibly: Practicing Sustainability, Responsibility and Ethics

Delivered by the University of Manchester in cooperation with Principles for Responsible Management Education (a UN-supported initiative), this course takes a broad stroke look at responsibility and ethics in management. Six segments examine business ethics, life-cycle management for sustainability, and corporate citizenship, among other topics. Attended by online learners from all over the world, one of the hallmarks of this program is facilitating cross-cultural collaboration through group tasks—a perfect primer for managing international fashion supply chains.

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Innovation: The Fashion Industry

This interactive five-part course developed by the University of Leeds looks at how innovation takes hold within a big-brand system. Centred around a detailed case study on fabric innovation at British retailer Marks & Spencer, it poses the question: What exactly does it take for a fashion giant to shift its goalposts? Modules examine the role of advertising and consumer education in establishing industry-wide change. While it doesn’t focus on ethical fashion specifically, it’s not hard to imagine how policy developments or attitudinal shifts might filter down through a company in a similar fashion.

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Business Futures: Sustainable Business Through Green HR

It might be one of the less glamorous aspects of running a business, but good HR practices are essential when dealing with complex supply chains—especially if you want to be people-focused. This program from Melbourne’s RMIT uses the example of the fashion industry to explore the delicate balancing act between sustainability, profitability, and viability. Topics include the ‘Triple top line’ growth model, and the role of leadership in turning businesses ‘green’.

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Becoming a Changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation

When you think about it, some of the biggest changes to the fashion industry have been catalysed by motivated individuals with a vision for doing things a little differently. This six-week course teaches you techniques to achieve maximum social impact in your chosen field, be it fashion or otherwise. The course draws on real-world examples and encourages networking between peers to inspire you on your own journey as a changemaker. Presented by the University of Cape Town’s Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, modules are co-taught by practitioners from RLabs, a South Africa-based social movement focused on youth empowerment.

Sign up here.