Marta studied the Postgraduate Certificate Fashion: Buying and Merchandising at London College of Fashion. She now has focused her career on sustainability research, currently working as a Fashion Futurist.
Did you always know you wanted to work in sustainability?
When it comes to the industry I work in, sustainability was quite a natural progression for me, although my journey here was not so straightforward. My first choice of studies was Computer Science. However, after the first year I was scouted by a modelling agency. Despite that I wasn’t that interested in fashion at the time. I then moved into fashion photography and show production. This was when I noticed a shift in the fashion industry - I saw how huge amounts of cheap clothing started flooding the market. Trends became money-making machines, and I didn't like this change, and wanted to educate myself further to see what I could do.
My various postgraduate studies in fashion buying, marketing and management helped me to understand the wider spectrum of the fashion industry. I started to realise how ruthless and unethical the fashion industry can be at times. Initially, I focused my interests on consumer behaviour and aggressive marketing, however, overtime, I learnt more about sustainability as a subject even though it wasn't being talked about broadly at the time. I've now become really passionate about the subject, and focus my work on motivating people towards more sustainable fashion consumption.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
LCF is one of the best fashion schools in the world and has so many interesting courses, this made the choice quite easy for me. I would still choose LCF now. It is really an amazing university with a great library and very helpful, open minded and inspiring academics.
What I didn't know when I choose LCF was that the university has lots of interesting public events, as well as amazing research centres such as: Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Centre for Fashion Enterprise, Fashion Innovation Agency and Digital Anthropology Lab.
What key skills did you learn during the course that you still use as a futurist and consultant?
During the Postgraduate Certificate Fashion: Buying and Merchandising, I learnt a lot about how brands are making their buying decisions. Understanding what negotiation processes look like and understanding the various design and price point strategies was really useful. It was fascinating to see how trends are created and how important understanding the target consumer is to businesses. I find that all of this is still very relevant and useful in my current job.
Since graduating, which of the projects you've worked on are you most proud of?
I'm very proud that I decided to take this path in general, it hasn't been the easiest one, especially at the beginning, but for me the most important thing is to do what I believe is right and can bring a positive change. I am not expecting to see drastic changes in people's consumption patterns straight away, but even a small change in habits can make a bring around change on a larger scale.
My main project is iKLEID. We are designing an experience space to build innovations from. We concentrate on methods based on exploration, co-creation and collaboration which foster more sustainable fashion consumption. We believe that is is very important to encourage stronger relationships with our clothes and that people need to understand the true value and cost behind what they wear. We also aim to activate new concepts to extend the life of our garments.
Between fashion and technology, where do you enjoy working the most?
I really enjoy looking at other industries where technology is moving quicker and finding ways that it can be applied in fashion. The crossover between the two excites me the most. My biggest challenge is thinking how to connect sustainable fashion with the fashion tech sector.
Technology and innovation have the potential to help us shop and use clothes more consciously.
For example, blockchain technology can help supply chains become more transparent, and augmented reality can facilitate customisation and personalisation, which can help overproduction
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
I really enjoy taking part in various conferences, it is always a great opportunity to meet likeminded people. Recently I had a chance to speak on Fashion Innovation Week conference in Lugano, Switzerland that gathered over 1200 people.
I had the privilege of sharing my ideas on Sky News. Such an opportunity means that my efforts in sustainability get a wider audience.
I was also very happy to help to evaluate Wear Sustain applications. Wear Sustain is an EU-wide wearable and e-textiles project confronting ethics and sustainability through research and innovation. It was also interesting to collaborate with Unruly on the house of the future. They were implementing Alexa - voice recognition system, in various parts of the home, including a wardrobe.
What do you love most about your profession?
After so many years in the fashion industry I feel that I have finally found what I love. I am truly passionate about what I am doing. It is amazing to see how the industry is changing for better and more people are getting engaged and involved in the sustainability subject. This isn't an easy mission to shift the fashion industry, but it has to be done in order to save our environment, and I want to be part of this change.
Any exciting upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Currently I am working on a research project that strives to improve lives and livelihoods in a circular economy in the apparel industry. It is complicated subject, especially when looking everyone within the supply chain, but very important and I am very excited about it.
Which plans do you have for your career?
I moved to Zurich, Switzerland last year. The market is very different to London which is a real hub for fashion, and there is so much less going on within my discipline here.
However, I love what I'm doing and am planning to develop my work. I hope that I can collaborate more with academia - I believe education is very important and is a starting point for change. Besides, I adore working on scientific projects, and with students. Their approach is very different, the enthusiasm is much higher, everything seems to be possible and there is an ocean of solutions and ideas, not necessarily ready to implement straight away but with some mentoring, many of their ideas could be successful.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in sustainability?
If someone wanted to follow in my footsteps, I think it is important for them to concentrate on something that they believe in and care about. It is necessary to recognise what is really important to you, your own mission and goals. Constant education is also required, especially within the technology sector, as there is always something new.
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