LCF hosts two world-leading UAL research centres, the Centre for Fashion Curation and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Our 8 Research Hubs provide incubator spaces for research staff and students, including one that supports the activities of the 80 LCF PhD researchers.
Research spans practice and theory in design, performance, curation, artefact, psychology, cosmetic science, social science, sustainable and material practices, creative business and management, digital production and communication; film, media and cultural studies.
London College of Fashion will be moving to the East Bank (2023), a new powerhouse for innovation, creativity and learning on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a unique collaboration between world-leading universities, arts and culture institution. LCF is a co-founder of the research and Knowledge Exchange focused Global Disability Innovation Hub, with East Bank partners, UCL, Loughborough London, Sadlers’ Wells and the V&A.
In 2018, UAL was awarded one of nine UK wide Creative R&D Partnerships, as part of an £80 million Creative Industries Cluster Programme, funded by the Industrial Strategy and delivered by the AHRC. LCF hosts the award led by Director Professor Jane Harris.
As one of six UAL Colleges, LCF contributed to the REF 2014, where UAL’s research was assessed as being 83% World Leading and international, is first in the Power ranking for Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory. Professor Felicity Colman is the Associate Dean of Research at London College of Fashion.
Our research community and practice
Our researchers work across multiple fields producing new material knowledge and analyses of past and present cultures within the UK and around the world. Our researchers form a community of writers and makers, expressing and disseminating research across a range of visual and cultural forms. This research spans a variety of material practices, including textiles design and development, marketing, retail, psychology practices for modelling user behaviours, and the cosmetic sciences. Through engagement with professional practices across the creative industries, LCF’s research community strives to develop new methodologies that are useful across interdisciplinary domains.
The college engages fashion as a broad platform that denotes a whole system of material production, consumption, and economy in pre- and post-industrial societies. Globally, the fashion industry is one of the top contributors to massive ecological damage to the planet; with harmful processes and a wasteful use of resources. However, it is also generative of new modes of identity formation, visualisation practices, and inventive green technologies. Each of these arenas requires new ethical approaches, methodologies, and public policies, to address the startling world changes in social behaviour. In this sense, at the college we approach fashion as not only “people, planet, [and societal] profit” (Elkington, 1995), but involves a more complex set of processes. Our community engages with fashion as:
- A proposal to future industries and consumers for novel, and scientifically informed modes of production, in addition to the sustainable consumption and re-use of resources
- A model for new green and carbon neutral business practices to use
- A manner for the curation of materials, the design of everyday and museological situations, and the performance of dress and costume.
- A manifesto for intervention into identity formation through visual, social, and textual media practices
- A programme for the invention and transformation of processes, objects, archives, documents, records, and textiles
- A method for inventing new things and forms of knowledge to change the ways in which we see the world
To realise this work, LCF engages in research into the visual cultural, social, and historical fields that contribute to what social platforms, such as fashion, perform. These include the disciplinary fields that emerge from the history and philosophy of visual and fine arts (photography, film, drawing, sculpture); critical theory and cultural studies; fashion theoretical studies; costume; scenography; performance; and fashion business research; the latter being a relatively new field, developing from interdisciplinary research which combines psychology, statistics, marketing, management, and cosmetic science.
The traditional making-disciplines also form the foundation for research practice at the college, investigating aspects of artisanal making, textile crafts, bespoke tailoring. Our research develops methods that produce new ways of engaging with historical artefacts and archives, by disrupting disciplinary canons and augmenting with alternative histories, and models for making.
New research methods engage technological changes that affect both users and consumers of aesthetic and cultural frameworks. Our research into the cultural logics of unsustainable industries, both in the real-world and navigating the boundaries of the metaverse, reframe the traditional business models. This includes reframing topics for understanding media, communication, semiotic theory, small and medium enterprises, and large-scale industries.
Research at the college takes multiple forms, with practitioners – writers, makers, theorists – all taking the common approach of thinking differently about the creative practices of making, and writing, of engaging with materials, and all bringing together an intersectional approach to fashion and technological platforms by questioning the formation of identities, and regarding each other and the resources of the world, with care.
A selection of our wonderful collaborators include:
- Alexander McQueen
- Antarctic Heritage Trust
- Barbican Art Gallery
- Blackhorse Lane Ateliers
- Compton Verney Art Gallery
- Conde Nast
- Design Council
- Fashionomics Africa
- Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT, New York)
- Institut Français de la Mode, Paris
- Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development
- London Borough of Brent
- London Borough of Hackney
- London Borough of Newham
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets
- London Borough of Waltham Forest
- Louis Vuitton
- Museum of British Folklore
- National Institute of Fashion Technology, India (NIFT)
- Politecnico di Milano
- Rosetta Arts
- Stella McCartney
- The Lab E20
- UNHCR (southern Africa, Middle East, UK)
- V&A Museum
- 200 Million Artisans