Fashion students hear of islands sustainability

More than 40 students and staff from around Europe have been in Lewis and Harris this week to look at how concepts of “sustainability” and the creation of employment can go hand in hand, particularly in rural areas.

More than 40 students from throughout Europe were in Lewis and Harris this week.
More than 40 students from throughout Europe were in Lewis and Harris this week.

They are involved in a project funded by Erasmus+ - the EU backed source of academic collaboration – on Sustainable Fashion Employability Skills. It is led by Glasgow Caledonian University and brings together four partner universities in France, Spain and Portugal.

The project’s industrial partners are Harris Tweed Hebrides and Spain’s Tendam Retail Group which is a leading advocate of sustainable fashion. The participants have been in Scotland for a week of “immersive experiences” with visits and workshops to some of the best representations of sustainable businesses.

It is hoped that the visit will give impetus to recognition of the Western Isles as a leader in sustainable businesses – not just through Harris Tweed but also in other sectors where the natural environment and production methods combine to create products that satisfy increasingly important sustainability criteria.

Harris Tweed Hebrides creative director, Mark Hogarth, who is also a visiting professor at Glasgow Caledonian University, accompanied the visiting party and said they experienced a range of businesses on Lewis and Harris which offered “a true representation of the circular economy”.

These included the Harris Distillery, Catherine Campbell, the candle and cosmetics manufacturer Essence of Harris and the seaweed-based beauty and skincare success story, Ishga – as well as Harris Tweed Hebrides at Shawbost mill and the Harris Tweed Authority.

At Lews Castle College, the students experienced workshops about zero waste pattern cutting; social media and how it can used to promote sustainability and good practice through the likes of TikTok and Instagram.

Mark said: “The reaction from the students has been incredible. They have seen the best of sustainable businesses in the Outhe Hebrides and have been impressed an engaged by everything they have experienced – in particular the unique processes at the Harris Tweed Hebrides mill”