Orange Coast College’s Fashion department has found a way to meet the demand for sustainable fashion by educating students on ethical fashion and sourcing.
The Apparel Industry Sustainability certificate was brought to fruition in the fall by instructors Derek Sabori, Lauren Becker and Michelle Craner.
Sabori is the sustainability consultant for Volcom, owner of the yoga apparel brand Kozm and the visionary of the sustainability certificate. With expertise and knowledge of the industry under his belt he was able to come up with the most beneficial classes for students of all majors to take.
“There’s not a lot of programs that have this,” Craner said. “I think we’re truly one of the only certificates like this. We’re trying to make a difference.”
The certificate consists of three courses taken consecutively during the school year.
The classes educate students on the environment, ethical business practices, law, manufacturing and every other nitty gritty detail that pertains to developing a company.
Students enrolled in the program will graduate during the summer session after completing the third course. The second round of courses will begin in the fall.
“It’s a mission of the college to be more sustainable, so it’s definitely a mission of all of ours as educators here to be more sustainable,” Craner said.
This isn’t the Fashion department’s first time bringing forward the idea of ethical fashion and sustainability, but is an addition to previous efforts to strive toward a more sustainable future.
This year the department hosted Volcom’s world premiere of its film “Farm to Yarn” during Green Coast Day. The film highlights the new business model Volcom adopted to implement education and resources to farmers in India to positively affect their quality of life.
Students in attendance learned how the company complies with new standards and strives to progress in the years ahead.
The Fashion department also showcases socially responsible companies such as Krochet Kids, Known Supply and 31 Bits in The Box, an on-campus pop-up shop that links students to jobs in the industry. To promote sustainability, the department also repurposed an old dented shipping container into the store.
These pop-up shops are like taking a field trip, where anyone can go and visit and ask questions about ethical sourcing, labor and the environment.
Many of the companies that have been featured at The Box are making their mark and bringing light to the issue of the true cost on being unethical.
Although the Apparel Industry Sustainability certificate is the perfect package, instructors in the Fashion department hope to see it grow in the future. Eventually, they want to see it evolve into an entire program.
Sustainability affects everyone and any business can benefit from ethical practices being put into place, they said.
Some students said they plan on coming back to OCC just to take the certificate courses and be more well-versed with what truly goes on behind closed doors.
“I will come back to take it,” said Brooke Wedner, who is graduating as a sociology major this year. “When learning about the sustainable fashion, you look at not only how it’s produced but its cradle to grave carbon footprint. From that we can determine what is considered sustainable and what would not be considered unsustainable, such as fast fashion.”
It may seem as if this certificate is geared solely for fashion-related majors, but they encourage everyone with any kind of background to participate in the program.
“To me, having this program available is comforting. It is comforting to know that we are moving in the right direction,” Wedner said.