& Buddy Penfold
De Montfort University, UK
Diversity in fashion and textile design education
The drive for increased diversity in design is a contemporary issue and its importance is recognised by government think-tanks and leading academic networks. The Design Council’s recent report to investigate the link between diversity and business performance, profiles the UK design ecology and outlines the impact that increased diversity within the design community can bring. This paper puts this into an educational perspective in terms of fashion and textiles higher education.
Based in the School of Design at De Montfort University in Leicester, one of the UK’s most culturally diverse cities, this study considers the current profile of fashion and textiles students and outlines current initiatives to promote the value of diversity. These initiatives actively present the debate to the student cohort, emphasising diversity through the use of positive role models across fashion and textiles disciplines.
To provide context for the debate, a summary of the diversity statistics from the city of Leicester and the University as a whole are presented. The University statistics are compared with the subject level equivalent for students studying design disciplines within the School of Design and also where possible with industry statistics from the Design Council’s research.
This paper also considers the student pipeline, and outlines an initiative to promote design as a potential career to key stage 3 pupils at local schools. This was focussed on footwear design and incorporated a novel activity pack to inspire and engage a diverse audience of potential future designers.
The work is ongoing and the emphasis on diversity is seen as a very positive development to the fashion and textiles design curricula and ultimately the UK’s design ecology.