The Business of Fashion

Semester one has come to a close – already! While the students have officially finished classes, there is still lots happening on campus. Winter has arrived, the leaves from the deciduous trees have fallen and the grass has returned to a bright green after the autumn rains. As the business of the seasons continues to shift, we turn to consider the business of fashion.

First up: The Business of Fashion (BoF) Survey of the world’s Top Fashion Schools has just released its results for 2019. We are very excited to announce that the two programs we submitted for review have BOTH been recognised as being leaders in fashion education!

  • Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) – selected in Top 37 Schools in this category.  Ranked in Top 11 with all four badges – Best: Overall, Best: Global Influence, Best: Learning Experience and Best: Long Term Value.
  • Masters of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) – selected in Top 10 (fewer entries in this category).  We received one badge – Best: Learning Experience.

Jennyfer Alonzo Aguirre shares insights into her experience with the Global Fashion Enterprise study tour in Europe. Dr Carol Tan tells us about the changes happening in the Fashion Entrepreneurship program. Benjamin Garg recounts the highlights of his time presenting as part of the St George NextGen show during Australian Fashion Week. Julia English talks about her time in Copenhagen as part of the Youth Fashion Summit. Finally, we look at the composter in the Brunswick Natural Dye Garden.

Global Study Tour – Europe

February 2019

At the beginning of 2019, students from Global Fashion Enterprise travelled to Europe as part of a Global Study Tour with Dr Carol Tan. MA (Fashion Entrepreneurship) student Jennyfer Alonzo Aguirre told us a bit about the trip.

For the first part of the tour, we visited Amsterdam where we went to the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) to meet with students and alumni as well as established designers including Mattijs van Bergen, Melanie Brown and Micckeus. We visited the headquarters of PVH group (owners of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) to learn about the changes they are making in their design and product development processes in line with their zero waste goals. We also spent time at Denim City, a company that stocks sustainable denim products and doubles as an educational institute, bringing to light the environmental impacts of denim production. As a denim lover, this was huge highlight for me.  

From Amsterdam we travelled to London via the Eurostar, arriving at St Pancras station on a Saturday night during peak hour! This part of the trip focused on market research. We visited the head offices of Edited and Thread to learn more about the behind-the-scenes side of fashion and attended a lecture at the Isituto Marangoni, where we gained a lot of insight into the business dimension of fashion. Economics and data are elements that are often overlooked in discussions about fashion so hearing data lecturer Abdullah Abo Milhim explain this part of the business to us was so helpful. 

As an emerging designer, and someone who would like to have a business in the international market, it is imperative to know the industry and the market. It was wonderful meeting creative and innovative people who are committed to making change in the industry as this inspired me to continue doing this in my own way too. 

Changes to Fashion Higher Ed Programs: Fashion Entrepreneurship 

Second in our series profiling some of the new programs and courses that will be introduced across the School in 2020 is the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Fashion Entrepreneurship, both of which will be embedded into the first year of the Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) program. We spoke to Senior Lecturer in Fashion Entrepreneurship Dr Carol Tan for some insights into this newly expanded offering.


The new Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Fashion Entrepreneurship will be added to the first year of the Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) program to provide an opportunity for students to gain a credential in fashion entrepreneurship without having to undertake the full, two-year Masters program. In both the Certificate and the Diploma, students will be provided with an introduction to the capabilities, knowledge, and confidence they need to create their own fashion enterprise and/or build a career within the global fashion industry. Within one semester of full-time study, students are able to achieve a Graduate Certificate in Fashion (Entrepreneurship).

We are really excited about these new programs as they will enhance student experience by way of increased student choice and flexibility, offering multiple exit points along the fashion entrepreneurship pathway.

Australian Fashion Week 2019

12-17 May 2019

During Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week, RMIT Master of Fashion (Design) graduate Benjamin Garg presented as part of the St George NextGen show on Thursday 16 May. We caught up with Benjamin to hear all about it.

I recently presented as part of a showcase of emerging Australian fashion designers after being awarded a ‘St.George NextGen’ Fashion Award, one of the most prestigious awards an Australian fashion graduate can achieve. I am grateful to RMIT University for having entered me into this competition, and to the industry panel for selecting me as a recipient. 

The show itself was held in Carriageworks Sydney, a unique location built over the original site of the Sydney train depot. The rawness of the venue – with is raggedy elements – really gave the runway a youthful and ethical affect, which played well against my designs.

Inspiration for my collection came from the fabric ‘Kota Doria.’ I am inspired by the hand-loom fabrication and its geography; culture as well as architecture. These elements influence all of my design, including the colours and dimensions of my work that convey a story of connections. Garments in my collection are kinetic and voluminous, they also have audio dimensions to them, which can only be experienced while wearing. All of these tactile dimensions are part of the geography of Kota Doria (where this fabric come from). The collection has also been supported by the ethical Indian shoe company ‘Desi Hangover,’ which helps to keep the shoemaker’s art alive.

Over all the experience was amazing, but most beautiful part was meeting the other designers in Gen Next. The other highlight of this experience has been the response I have received. The show and competition is globally recognised and I have been overwhelmed by the positivist and encouragement I have received since the show.  I am now trying to find a way to be able to fulfil my flow of orders! Once that is settled I will be able to begin to focus on a new collection. I’m hoping to experiment with plant-based fibres or some other form of unknown hand-loom fabric. 

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RMIT Master of Fashion (Design) graduate Benjamin Garg at the St.George Next Gen show during MBAFW, 2019.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit 

15-16 May

The Youth Fashion Summit 2018-2019 program is an important part of the Copenhagen Fashion summit. In partnership with the United Nations Global Compact and Pandora, and in collaboration with the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, the two-year program challenged 100 talented fashion students to create a framework for the industry to reach two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): DG 3, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, and SDG 5, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The program focuses on sustainability education and idea generation. The mission is to give students moving into the fashion industry the platform, tools and opportunity to influence the decisions being made today, but that will be felt tomorrow. We spoke to Youth Fashion Summit delegate and Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) alumni Julia English about her experiences at the 2019 event.

I had the honour of returning to Copenhagen this year as one of the Youth Fashion Summit (YFS) participants for second time. As a smaller contingent than last year – only half of the 110 participants from 2018 were able to return – there was a greater sense of community, which only increased as we worked together over three full days. While last year’s work was broadly considering fashion’s impact in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Health and Wellbeing and Gender Equality, this year’s YFS was framed around a case competition with Pandora, concentrating on the jewellery sector and gender equality. Broken into four groups, we focused on the different areas of production: raw materials; sourcing; manufacturing; and citizen and society. Through assessing these areas, a pitch for change was developed and presented to the jury, with citizens and society being the winner and creating a film around their concept of #humangender.

We also had the opportunity to be the youth voice within the Copenhagen Fashion Summit,  asking the industry to use their power and privilege to achieve gender equality. In addressing the industry, we synthesised our pitches into the key drivers for change, and broadened the lens to include all fashion stakeholders. Our key calls to action were for: increased traceability of supply chains; empathetic relationships across industry sectors; collaboration to support women’s empowerment; and addressing customers as humans, not genders. I was one of the four speakers who represented the YFS, and I loved having the opportunity to point out our fortunate position of being capable of enacting change, and to question what is being done with that privilege.

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Julia English with her team at the Youth Fashion Summit, Copenhagen 2019

The industry needs provocative, yet empathetic voices, and I felt that this is where the Youth Summit excelled. Through the network of friends I built there, I was encouraged to not accept mediocre change in our industry, but rather to collectively push for more. For my own practice, it has increased my interest in tackling the sustainability of mass production, where answers are complicated due to the sheer quantity of consumption and entrenched expectation of low prices.

‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings

It is Chinnup season. Winter, season of cockatoos. It is cold; there are morning frosts, bleak mists and freezing winds. There may be early wildflowers, orchid rosettes and silver wattles. The rains continue. 


The garden isn’t always a bed of roses. In winter, some of the beds are emptied of plants, the soil turned and prepared for the next planting season. This is a time for consolidation and preparation. We have had some serious trouble with aphids and white butterflies (they LOVE Kale!) so we are welcoming in some new marigolds, perennial tagetes lucida, as companion plants to keep the bugs away. We are also planting some rosemary.

In the meantime, our test composter is thriving! We just have one composter at present (with plans for more in future) and it is off to a great start. The deciduous autumn leaves make a great dry base and garden clippings and aphid-infested mizuna add much needed moisture. The balance between wet and dry is important part of successful composting and so far we have been lucky to be able to strike this balance well. If you are in the garden you can take a peak at the decomposition through the window on the side of the compost bin. If you have organic scraps – banana peels, apple cores… feel free to toss them in for the worms.

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– Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles