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Date 23.09.2015
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Tamara Albu

21 CENTURY DESIGN EDUCATION ALTERNATIVES: Women Weave, India – Parsons School of Fashion, US – Project case study

Tamara Albu, Associate Professor, Fashion Design Parsons School of Design

As we all know, leaving on an endangered planet is a universal concern. In order to prolong the life on Earth, drastic changes at all levels and sectors must be implemented. The 21st century brought to us an explosion of amazing technology which impacted our life immensely. This resulted to the rapid growth of production throughout almost every field possible. Unfortunately the positive aspect of revolutionary inventions and innovations is been clouded by the negative consequences affecting the very essence of life on Earth. Now many brilliant minds are franticly searching for ways of controlling this unleashed powers before is too late.

Fashion sector has its own serious problems and misbehaviors. Educating designers to make responsible decisions is vital to environment, to socio-economic progress and political stability.
As part of this effort, each program must look into the existing curriculum and revise not only the offered courses but the way the knowledge is delivered. Generating creative, dynamic and inclusive venues for teaching and learning environment must overcome inherent predicaments. Having the students engaged into a new learning culture is crucial for the future of Higher education.

The focus of my research is to provide a cross-cultural collaboration between Parsons, Fabcreation and WomenWeave. Both organizations support fulfilling, sustainable and dignified income-earning activity in rural areas of India. WomenWeave was until recently, a charitable trust that has supported the role of women in handloom weaving since its inception in 2002, working toward making handloom profitable. This year (that is 2015) the organization became cost-effective without any external philanthropic funding support. FabCreation, is an NGO, they are a clothing company, which has formed by 5 young weavers from Maheshwar, Madha Pradesh, India.

The collaboration identifies the producer-user relationships by bringing closer together the Indian handloom craftsmanship on one hand, and Parsons students from David Goldsmith’s Marketing Textile Survey and Design Fashion Portfolio courses on the other hand. This project allows students to fully understand textile research and development process and reflect on fast vs. slow fashion movement from the supply chain perspective. In Fashion Portfolio students are asked to develop a capsule collection using handmade fabrics supplied by WomenWeave. The students are required to create garments by manipulating or draping the handmade fabrics, while optimizing fabric usage within their designs to eliminate waste.

The goal is to introduce students to alternative design systems while challenging their creative talents. By creating garments that fuse emerging designers with deep-rooted craftsmanship they are contributing to the preservation of ethnographic cultural heritage.

It is also worth noticing that not only Khadi is already in much demand now, but that Gandhi’s vision is a remarkable model for the 21st Century groundbreaking design system.
Without any doubt, this longitudinal study allows me to observe differences in students’ responses, understanding, and appreciation of solid values over time. By processing the research results and integrating these values into my courses, prepare emerging designers for a positive impact, and for a more sustainable social responsible global fashion.


Tamara AlbuTamara Albu’s journey to the fashion world had begun with her studies in Decorative Arts at Academy of Fine Arts from her native city, Bucharest, in Romania. She earned her M.F.A. in Fashion Design and Illustration there. In 1980, after several years working as a fashion designer and illustrator, she decided to come to New York.

While her love for designing and painting was burning strong, Tamara’s interests took an additional dimension soon: teaching paired with her professional activity. Tamara lives and works in New York City.

While active as an artist, exhibiting and publishing her art work, she was been contributing to Fashion Companies such as Hue, Christian Dior NY, Donna Karan and DKNY, Calvin Klein Hosiery, Jay Godfrey, Hanes Hosiery and Adidas. As Associate Professor, she is teaching Fashion Illustration and Fashion Portfolio for the Associate Degree Program at New School University, Parson School of Design.

RESEARCH INTERESTS: Fashion Studies, Sustainable Fashion and Textile Design, Fashion and Technology, Fashion and Science (Biodiversity, Biotechnology), Wearable art.
CURRENT COURSES: European Fashion: Tradition and Innovation Fashion Portfolio; Fashion Technical Drawing; Fashion Drawing 2; Fashion Industry Design