“IFA Paris becomes an actor of the ecological transition!”
Committed at its level to the ecological transition, the IFA Paris luxury fashion and management school is multiplying initiatives in terms of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR). The school’s leaders have moved into the implementation phase in terms of environment, recycling and sustainability. Interview with Dr. Albane Forestier, Director of Teaching and CSR Manager at IFA Paris.
Michel Temman: IFA Paris has introduced new measures to raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues among students. In which framework and in what way?
Albane Forestier: IFA Paris is gradually emerging as a major player in the ecological transition at its level because we see it as our responsibility as a training organisation in a high-impact industrial sector, and also because this is the future. None of the actors in the fashion industry will be able to ignore this aspect, which is becoming unavoidable. How can we continue to create when there are already enough clothes on earth to dress three generations? We must therefore innovate in order to rethink a sector that defines itself by continuous innovation while integrating more sustainable practices. Our approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also part of a broader normative framework, since IFA Paris’ CSR protocol and actions are carried out under the LUCIE label, which is based on the ISO 26000 standard to develop their labelling criteria. We conducted an audit of our practices in 2018 and 2019 and we are now embarking on the implementation of action plans, driven by our CSR committee in which all of the school’s stakeholders sit: teachers, administrative staff, management and especially students!
M.T.: These issues are taught in the classroom, on IFA Paris campuses, within the Bachelor Fashion Sustainability. Is this Bachelor popular? Does it seem to you to evolve quickly? And do you have an anecdote or fact about it?
Albane Forestier: These questions are of course the reason for the Bachelor Fashion Sustainability, which focuses on waste reduction and reduced environmental impact on the one hand, but also on taking into account the societal consequences of the fashion industry’s practices. This Bachelor aims at reflecting on the implementation of new sustainable economic models, both at the level of the creation and design of clothing and at the level of their marketing. The Bachelor, which was launched in 2019, will make its first entrance in September 2020. So it’s still too early to give you a precise feedback, but we already have many applications and the fact is that there is a lot of interest in this programme. Furthermore, we are integrating these issues into our current programmes, be it at the level of our creative programmes, with for example an Up-cycling & Material Transformation module within our Bachelor Fashion Design & Technology, as well as business, with modules dedicated to ethical fashion within each teaching year in all our Bachelor and MBA programs.
M.T.: What measures are being taken at IFA Paris to improve, for example, the recycling of utensils, certain school products and even waste?
Albane Forestier: We have put in place several measures to encourage the reuse of utensils. For example, all new students arriving in 2019 received a welcome kit with an IFA Paris mug enabling them to use the cafeteria without having to use plastic cups – a measure that is all the more useful as we know that non-recycled plastic often ends up in rivers and then in the ocean and breaks up into microplastics! In addition, we will be installing cardboard and paper sorting bins from the second quarter of 2020. We will also systematically collect textiles so that they can be recycled or reused.
M.T.: Are environmental issues of great interest to students at IFA Paris? Do they seem more and more concerned and active on these subjects?
Albane Forestier: Environmental awareness has already existed for a long time among some students, who want to get involved in concrete actions and find alternatives to the current model. A survey conducted among Swiss university students in 2018, for example, shows that 87% of them are very or rather interested in this issue, but only a third believe that teaching this topic is sufficient within the programmes offered to them. In addition, in order to mobilise those of our students who feel less concerned, we are going to set up one CSR day per month with awareness-raising actions around a different theme each time. The next event will take place at the end of April during Fashion Revolution Week. On the programme: clothing exchange, Upcycling competition and presentations by the Fashion Revolution France team!