Sustainability with Urban Planet

Seneca Fashion 3rd-year fashion students embark on their 2019-2020 capstone project journey.

Each year, graduating students from Seneca’s Fashion Business Management (FBM) Advanced diploma program partner with a client in the fashion industry to assist with a real-life business opportunity. FIELD short for Fashion Industry Educational Exchange and Leadership Development is a capstone project. During the FIELD year, students work in teams to apply knowledge gained to develop creative solutions for the ‘client’ and present their strategy to a panel of judges at a year-end industry event. We are overjoyed to announce that our 2019/2020 FIELD client is Urban Planet, a brand under the iconic YM Inc. family.

The Challenge? Sustainability.

Sustainability is the new frontier in fast fashion, too much clothing winds up in landfills every year, and the environmental cost related to this industry must be addressed. Urban Planet would like to develop a robust sustainability initiative addressing materials selection, manufacturing, post-consumer waste, and packaging. How can Urban Planet adopt better manufacturing practices while engaging more with their customer, successfully converting the initiative into the adoption of additional sales and customer loyalty?  

“We are very excited to be the 2020 Field Project Industry Partner and contribute to such an amazing educational program. When Anna and Lorrisa presented the opportunity to be the industry partner, we jumped at the opportunity. YM values the contribution of fresh minds and believes in giving young people a leg up in the industry. The most important part of our successful evolution are the people we work with.  It’s the teams of talented individuals that collaborate and inspire each other to push hard and do more to impress our customer.  

Our industry is facing a significant cycle of change, sustainable manufacturing practices are at the forefront of retail conversations and initiatives.  We believe that great fashion doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment and are committed to improving our processes to ensure we make better choices in our future production and logistics. Concern for the sustainability of the environment must be top of mind as we drive our strategies forward.  

Retailers must act as a bridge between manufacturers and consumers, demanding change from our suppliers and encouraging new consumer behavior as well. Great insights and fresh new approaches for the end to end sustainable retail cycle is our challenge to the 2020 graduating class of Fashion Business Management. We believe that this generation is more engaged than ever before with environmental responsibility and know they will truly impress us with their innovative and forward-thinking retail strategies– Maria Mayer, VP of Merchandising at YM INC.

This year, five groups of student teams will develop a capsule collection and marketing plan that researches the Canadian women’s apparel market. Their solution will focus on sustainable sourcing, production, and omnichannel selling practices and should define a clear competitive advantage and a diverse channel/assortment and branding strategy.

“Third year in FBM has been great so far. FIELD has been accelerating quickly from week one as we are tacking our FIELD concept to present it to our client, Urban Planet for feedback. I am excited and anxious for the final presentation at the end, knowing it could lead to some open doors (potential employers), post-grad Seneca.”Yonas Kbede, FBM Student 

Students embarked on their FIELD journey on September 12, 2019, with a visit to Urban Planet at Fairview mall. Here, they received a private tour and presentation on the brand’s visual and merchandising strategy followed by presentations from senior management, question and answer period, and a group networking lunch at Seneca College.

“The FIELD project gives our 3rd-year FBM students an opportunity to tackle a real-life business case with mentoring from the industry client and faculty. It’s a privilege to work industry leaders like Maria and members of the Urban Planet team (at YM Inc.) who embrace the value of our FIELD program and its outcomes. The skills students learn and apply throughout the 8-month duration of the project sets our graduates apart from other fashion business graduates in the GTA.” – Lorrisa Dilay, FBM Professor at Seneca College

About Urban Planet:

Unique in size and concept, Urban Planet is one of the fastest-growing fashion brands in Canada, with more than 100 locations across the country and an online store at www.urban-planet.com. Catering to a broad core demographic of young men & women aged 16 to 24, our customers are part of a generation constantly looking for that next best thing.

With a focus on the latest fashion, footwear & accessory trends, our customers can be confident in knowing they’ll stay one step ahead of that ever-changing curve, and with our everyday amazing prices everyone can always afford to look their best. As we continue to expand our brand, our retail philosophy will continue to stay the same: shopping should be fun and great fashion should be accessible to everyone.

About Seneca Fashion: 

Seneca Fashion combines innovation with the world of business, beauty, and design. Our programs in fashion and esthetics challenge you to connect your creativity with professional skills to help you succeed in the industry.

Through field placements, competitions, and Seneca’s Fashion Resource Centre – a collection of Canadian–worn garments and accessories, you’ll experience the industry, build connections, and develop a career. To learn more about Seneca’s exclusive Fashion Resource Centre visit www.fashionresourcecentre.com

2019 Career Networking Event

On Thursday, October 3rd, The School of Fashion hosted our annual Career Networking event with industry-leading companies! Thank you to our long list of exhibiting companies, including Hudson’s Bay Company, Nordstrom, Footlocker, SEPHORA, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sanctuary Day Spas , TJX The Ten Spot, and Elmwood Spa. The event was open to all our #SenecaFashion students who spent the afternoon engaging with company representatives and handing out their business cards and resumes to prospective employers. We are #SenecaProud of our career ready students!

Kelly Drennan on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Kelly Drennan is a systems thinker, social entrepreneur, thought leader, disruptor and collaborator who is devoted to making change within the fashion industry. Twelve years ago she founded Fashion Takes Action, out of her desire to create a better, more sustainable future for her two daughters.
She is also responsible for producing the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) which began in 2014, developing FTA’s youth education program “My Clothes My World” and “Design Forward – Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Awards”.

She has given hundreds of presentations to industry, academics and consumers in the hopes to raise awareness for responsible consumption and production, and for human rights in the fashion industry. Kelly is very passionate about the circular economy in fashion and is responsible for convening a Textile Diversion Collective in Ontario. This multi-sector collaborative has more than 30 stakeholders. We caught up with Kelly during our Transforming our World symposium and asked her to share a few words on her favourite Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

“My favourite SDG 12 because in order for us to move toward a circular economy, it requires both industry (production) and consumers (consumption) to be responsible. This necessary shift to circularity is not the responsibility of any single sector, but rather the combination of private and public sector, and civil society.”

October 7th marks day one of the 2019 Fashion Takes Action, WEAR Conference. Stay tuned for our full event coverage!

Industry Spotlight: Romy Schill, Sheep and Lamb Producer and her view on SDG 2, Zero Hunger

RschillRomy Schill was raised on a dairy farm near Moorefield. She met her husband Ryan Schill through Ontario’s 4-H program and when they married in 2008, they knew that they wanted to farm. Romy had studied at the University of Guelph receiving her degree in Agricultural Science. After Romy worked off the farm for a few years and after getting some farm experience, the couple decided to concentrate on sheep. The barn was rebuilt and set up to handle their new flock.  They now have 300 ewes (female sheep) and hope to increase their herd size to 500 in the coming years. Their farm, in Wellington County, has been in the Schill family for 94 years.

Their sheep are a combination of both commercial and purebred d stock. The sheep are marketed to other farmers for breeding stock or to the local auction ring for meat. They also sell some lamb meat and sheep products (wool, yarn, sheepskins) from the farm gate and at a few farmers markets.

Romy is a board member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed. The Upper Canada Fibreshed is an affiliate, not-for-profit organization within the international Fibershed network committed to building a regional fibre system centered around local fibres, local dyes, and local labour. It nourishes emerging, bioregional textile communities of producers and consumers, that value sustainable agriculture and hyper-local textile manufacturing. Its members believe that supporting bioregional textile networks will change the way we make, purchase and use textiles, envisioning a different culture based on soil-to-soil systems for environmental regeneration.

SDG2When asked her top #SDG, Romy replied “With our farm we truly support sustainable resource use and soil to soil fibre systems to achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. A huge commitment to animal health, care and environment gives our animals the opportunity to be productive creatures.”

Want more? Visit our blog post ‘not a baa-d look’ and learn about our #SenecaFashion sheep sheering project.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Alice Zhu, Fashion and Rebellion

Living with one foot in fashion and the other in dark dramatism, Alice Zhu’s work expresses her inner world and personality. “For me, fashion is a part of who I am, it’s about costumes, theatre, and art – like a performance in style.” Recipient of the Seneca School of Fashion Excellence Award, Alice has design confidence that isn’t afraid to break out of the mold.

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Her line, as seen at the 21stCentury Atelier: Redefining Fashion in a New Age of Design, held in partnership between Seneca College’s School of Fashion and the Royal Ontario Museum, features what she calls “Psycho Clown.” The line is designed in rebellion to mainstream retail garments and celebrates hip-hop streetwear and decorative vintage looks.

Using woven polyester, silk and cotton, Alice cuts silhouettes that are A-line and asymmetrical. She details and decorates using colour blocking, pleats and ruffles. “My clothes are meant to make a person stand out,” says Alice. “They’re made for Alexander McQueen style runway shows, for theatre and movies, they’re meant to attract attention and create a mood.”

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Observing the streetwear designs in her line, one sees oversized jackets and petite tweed tops (reminiscent of Chanel’s suit material) that have creepy smiley faces on them. “These clothes mock conformist fashion – I believe following trends is wasteful” she says. Then she points to her masks and continues, “I have a zero-waste ideology. I make these masks out of wasted fabric, and give these shreds meaning.”

Owing a lot to the faculty at Seneca, especially the support of the Academic Chair for the School of Fashion, Gitte Hansen, and practicing fashion designer and instructor Zoran Dobric, Alice says her confidence and exposure, as well as her technical skills are all attributed to her years in Seneca and her relationships with the department even as an alumnus.

Today, Alice’s own style is simple; she wears flare cut black pants and a plain, beautiful black top with full sleeves that she says she stitched herself. She wears delicate cornrows on her head to hold her hair back from her face. “I used to be interested in rebellious, dramatic, gothic and punk looks and hairstyles, but as I grew older I began to spend less time on how I dress and more time on my work – today my rebellion is in my designs.”

Administration Spotlight: Michel Côté

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We would like to congratulate Michel Côté on his new role as Acting Chair of the School of Fashion. Michel has been part of the fashion and lifestyle industry for over 25 years. He started his career in Montréal as a merchandiser-buyer working closely with the Mexx International design team. Michel is also the founder of two companies: tec-nic kolor, which specializes in uniforms and promotional items, and Henry & Cécile, a custom handmade bedding manufacturer. He has been part of the Fashion Group International board of directors (Toronto Chapter), and a member of the board for Apparel Connexion. Michel has an MA in leadership at the University of Guelph.

Garry Bell’s view on SDG 9: Industry Innovation and Infrastructure​

GaryBellHaving worked for close to 25 years within Gildan, across a wide range of leadership positions ranging from sales, marketing, product development, innovation, business development, and strategic planning, Garry Bell has developed a passion and a keen thirst for all things sustainable. As a self-admitted ‘life-long learner’, he has long advocated that truly sustainable and responsible practices are directly linked to the corporate success and profitability of most organizations. Gildan’s mission is “Making Apparel Better”, a statement strategically worded to not be defined as making better garments but rather one that is defined as making apparel in a better way that delivers value to every one of their stakeholders. Their goal is to create positive change and impact each and every day, through the actions they take, the decisions they make and the lives they touch.

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We caught up with Garry and asked him to share his favourite SDG. His response:

“Wow. That’s a tough one. The strength of the SDG’s is that they collectively address the most material issues we face. Pulling one out as my favorite leaves so many things unaddressed. I believe that SDG9, Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, can act as an important enabler for many of the other SDGs, in an era of ever-increasing digitalization of our world. Substantive progress on this SDG can make eradication of poverty, access to quality education, clean energy and ensure strong and effective partnerships are formed. I also think it’s an SDG that can very quickly access the capital required to make substantial progress quickly.”

-Garry Bell