Diversity in fashion and textile design education

IFFTI 2019

Paper 136

Carolyn Hardaker
& 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.

Carolyn Hardaker

Professor Carolyn Hardaker joined De Montfort University in 1993 as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Aided Design for Fashion and Textiles, after working as a CAD systems specialist in a variety of industries. With over 26 years’ experience, Carolyn’s teaching is centred on the application of digital design applications within Fashion and Textiles; this includes garment pattern design and grading, visual merchandising, 3D footwear design and along with generic applications for the development of garment shape and illustrations.

Throughout her career, Carolyn has developed, and continues to develop, learning opportunities through her extensive industry, educational and livery networks. This has included collaborations with industry partners such as Lectra, and the development of a number of EU and government funded research studies in the use of CAD and its pedagogy. She has worked closely with industry to develop short courses and training materials. A keen advocate of design education and responsible design, Carolyn was awarded the title of Professor in 2018 and is currently the Interim Head of the School of Design.

Buddy Penfold

Buddy Penfold, Associate Head of International for Arts, Design and Humanities has worked at De Montfort University for eighteen years. Before taking on her current role, she co-wrote, took through validation, and was MA Programme Leader for Fashion and Textiles and still teaches on Fashion and Textile courses at the university. Buddy studied textiles at Liverpool Art College and won a Royal Society of Arts award. She worked in the textile industry for many years before joining academia.

She was senior executive designer for Coats Viyella Knitwear Design, responsible for a budget of £45 million selling into Marks and Spencer, before joining Burnleys Spinners as Design Director, where she set up the design department and sold designer yarn into the American market. She has also worked as a buyer and freelance knit designer for the high street fashion chain Next. Buddy has a wide understanding of all aspects of the careers that training in design can lead to. She has an MA Ed in diverse teaching methods.

Within De Montfort, Buddy’s specialism is knitwear, taught within the Fashion and Fashion, Textiles courses. Several of her students’ knitwear collections have won major bursary awards, featured on the Graduate Fashion Week Awards ceremony catwalk and won the Innovative Knitwear Award, as well as gaining postgraduate entry to St Martins and the Royal College of Art.