Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, London College of Fashion should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear London College of Fashion,

I would like to request the following information under the freedom of information act 2005.

Do you have an ethical policy in place? If yes, can be accessible?

Do your college use fur on your courses? If yes, would you please state of which animals?

Do you use products not tested on animals on your "cosmetics" courses?

Yours faithfully,

Tino Verducci

Dear London College of Fashion,

Following my previous request on Ethics at the your prestigious College, I have noticed that you did not reply yet.

The Law required from you to have responded by the 30 March 2012.

Would you please consider to respond before, I complain to the Information Commissioner about your authority.

Yours faithfully,

Tino Verducci

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Dear Tino Verducci is the new contact page and London College of Fashion aren't great at admin jobs like forwarding an old email address to a new one.

I can answer the question on their behalf.

Ethics are an important part of the PR training which is taught at the college and practiced by some government-funded offices based in its buildings. The trick is to say "Ethical" at the beginning of the sentence, so that everyone things you mean their particular ethic, and then come-up with a really vague ethic like "sustainable" in the next breath, and only to talk about that. There has been great success in using this technique to increase help for sponsors in the fur trade, which you can read about here:

One of the groups based in our buildings - Own-it - has hosted a lecture featuring a young fur trade designer and how she managed to manufacture her designs out of dead animal fur in China without threat of copy write infringement, or prosecution from a UK manufacturers who she paid late. You can read more about her work on the own-it link below. The East Meets West lecture co-incided with another LCF project, Creative Connexions, and their lectures such as "Making it Ethically in China"; you can see that we do not just undermine the ethic of boycotting fur, but do so as a broader effort to undermine the ethics of a range of people.

Some of our work is done in conjunction with other agencies. In the words of Ed Gillespie at Futerra Communications [footnote 1], ethical messages have to be about "agency", or what to do, "infrastructure", or how to do it, and "Social factors: We are communal, communicative animals at heart and what other people are doing around us really matters. There are multiple unconscious, subconscious and intuitive influences that affect our behaviours all the time. We instinctively mirror and echo the behaviour of others – what psychologists call 'social proof'."

Other agencies with overlapping staff or buildings are Own-it, an agency offering designers help with IP, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, which among other things offers admin. support (possibly public funded) to the All Party Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. A broader grouping is based at Rich Mix in London, and formally made up of two companies, Ethical Fashion Consultancy Ltd and Ethical Fashion Forum Ltd. You can read their lists of directors on [footnote 3]. The Ethical Fashion Forum web site lists Centre for Sustainable Fashion among its partners' pool (alongside Futerra Communications), and staff of Centre for Sustainable Fashion have organised government grants for projects managed by Ethical Fashion Forum. The forum (which is a web forum, not a democratic organisation) is often quoted in the media and so presumably has helped exclude more clear and less sanitised ethics from being reported. Another partner agency of Ethical Fashion Forum is Estethica at London Fashion Week, which has helped get Chinese Leather shoes reported as "ethical". Estethica and London Fashion Week are connected to a fashion colleges council, of which London College of Fashion plays a part.

It is hard to comment clearly on exactly who uses what money to influence reporting and production of fur products, given the network of agency names and people involved, some of them spending specific pieces of government grant money, possibly paid separately from the Higher Education Funding Council or Defra, and some of them presumably working on London College of Fashion salaries or using offices in the buildings. We also influence other colleges through Centre for Sustainability in Fashion by writing course materials and text books.[footnote 4]

I will attempt to illustrate the position with an example of a broad group of people, who appear influential, and who's position can be manipulated and made to appear disinterested in fur and animal cruelty, or UK manufacturing, or the need for a welfare state in Bangladesh, or democracy in China.

One of our staff "has been instrumental in setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group in the UK focusing on addressing issues related to sustainability and ethics in fashion", according to our web site.

The All Party Group has one member from the Lords who refused to wear an fur-topped robe and mentioned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in her speeches [footnote 5]. There is no way that the chair of the committee could be unaware or unable to report on other ethics. She chooses not to. Her speeches suggest quite another consensus - the "social proof" mentioned by Futerra Communications (who happen to be members of Ethical Fashion Forum's partners' list) - in her speech a few weeks later to the Ethical Fashion Forum.
You can read excepts from her opening speech to a lords debate here, with annotations: (titled "you are invited to a master class in fashion PR]. You can read another of her speeches, given a few months later to a trade association, below and see how well she did at avoiding specific ethical choices like the use of fur.

I hope this gives you some background to London College of Fashion's ethical position on fur.

As for your specific questions

"Do you have an ethical policy in place? If yes, can be accessible?"
There will be a corporate document somewhere on ethics but we probably photocopied one from our bank and anyway it would have to take the detailed points above into account, so it won't say anything much.

"Do your college use fur on your courses? If yes, would you please state of which animals?"
It depends who is willing to sponsor us. Also, our courses have bad reviews and a relatively small amount of staff support, so I imagine that students drop-out. If the previous crop of students left-over some fur, all the better.

"Do you use products not tested on animals on your "cosmetics" courses?"
That's a technical question and, although we are a technical college, we don't have a track record of detail; we closed most of our technical courses down and assume that the cosmetics are made in China where they can write what they like on the label without anyone finding them out.

If you have any other questions about the work of London College of Fashion or its courses, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

answering in the absence of comment from London College of Fashion


Footnote 1: Ed Gillespie at Futerra Communications gives fashion PR advice

Footnote 2: "Since meeting in 2009, the CSF and Baroness Young quickly established a rapport of shared goals and energy focusing on the promotion of ethical fashion at a parliamentary level. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ethical Fashion held its preliminary meeting in 2009 and we were proud to be announced as the secretariat. We will continue to develop activities for the APPG in 2010, bringing together a mix of industry innovators and politicians to further debate the issues."

Footnote 3: Ethical Fashion Consultancy Ltd & Ethical Fashion Forum Ltd directors

Footnote 4: "We have worked with the Higher Education Academy since 2008, when we were commissioned to research and write the report Volume 4.0: Green Collar Graduates for the Fashion Industry. We are currently delivering a further project for the HEA for Art, Design and Media under the theme of education for sustainable development, working with three undergraduate courses at London College of Fashion to develop toolkits for teaching sustainability in fashion."

Footnote 5: Baroness Young of Hornsey could not have helped hearing of other ethics - straightforward uncontroversial speech from Baroness Parminter [, fellow member of the all party group, speaking at its motion debate on 19th of March 2013

John Robertson left an annotation () - There was another debate on ethical fashion in the lords, before their lordships were coached in what to say and it was more interesting. Lord Suger suggested incubator factories set-up in empty space with an emphasis on training.

Baroness young mentioned fur!

I haven't worked-out how to find-out whether government ministers and ministries did anything in response to any of the speeches.

John Robertson left an annotation () -

This is a blog that about the fashion punditry industry, including London College of Fashion's role in a thing called Graduate Fashion Week which charges shopkeepers to attend rather than inviting them to attend. So quite likely, a LCF student would be permitted or encouraged to use fur, but not find any punters to sell it to after graduating. Graduate Fashion Week combines some degree show work from these colleges, although I know deMontford Uni also runs its own in Leicester and the others may have their own as well.

Arts University College at Bournemouth
Bath Spa University
Birmingham City University
Bradford College
Carmartthenshire College
Cleveland College of Art and Design
Colchester School of Art
De Montfort University
Edinburgh College of Art
EsMod Berlin
Istituto Marangoni
Kingston University
Limerick School of Art and Design
Leeds College of Art
Liverpool John Moores University
Manchester Metropolitan University
Middlesex University
Northbrooke College Sussex
Northampton University
Northumbria University
Norwich University of the Arts
Nottingham Trent University - School of Art
Plymouth College of Art
Southampton Solent University
University of Sunderland
University for the Creative Arts, Epsom
University of Central Lancashire
University of Derby
University of East London
University of Huddersfiled
University of Leeds
University of Lincoln
University of Salford
University for the Creative Arts, Rochester
University of Wales, Newport
University of West England
University of West London
University of Westminster
Wiltshire College Salisbury
Winchester School of Art

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