The fashion culture in Greece

The Greek textile-clothing industry is one of the oldest production and manufacturing industries in the modern history of Greece and its importance to the economy is quite large due to its interconnection with other dependent industry sectors (primary sector, cotton production), its balance of payments, its interconnection with the employment of the labour force and its participation in other key sectors of the Greek economy (manufacturing).

Greece is one of the European Union countries with the largest production of yarns, fabrics, and ready-made garments. The textile and clothing industry, being sectors fundamental to meeting human clothing needs, continues to grow and is entering the new century with optimism. In the context of the changes taking place in the economy and in modern business, the textile industry is being renewed, modernized, and restructured through continuous investment, following the rapid and radical changes in all sectors of human activity.

Currently, the export sector (cotton, silk, and raw materials) continues to employ more than 200.000 workers, and businesses, both industrial and craft, are growing. Almost every county in the country has at least one small or large textile production unit.

Nevertheless, Greece is the only European country that does not offer public higher education purely in the textile sector (despite the existence of corresponding sectors with a strong participation in the Greek economy). The only way out for training in the fashion and textile sector is through private schools. In recent years, several organizations have been created that offer modernized courses in fashion, among which the most important are: IEK AKMI, Burda Fashion School, Pansik Scuola di Moda, IEK ALFA, IEK Craft, Akto Art & Design.

The Curricula that are offered in fashion schools are inspired by the respective foreign courses, due to Greece’s limited interior fashion industry (design and production). The thematic areas that are mostly included in the Curricula of fashion institutes are textile, patrom/sewing and cutting, fashion design, fashion styling and fashion marketing. Interdisciplinary Curricula or courses among arts departments or graphic/product design sectors is a noticeable reality within Greek fashion studies, in the context of either receiving a general education or training in various expressions or forms of design or building a mutual collaboration with professional fields that the fashion experts will work with in their future career (such as make-up artists, hair stylists, photographers etc.).

Generally speaking, the Curricula that are currently offered in Greek fashion studies are market-oriented, but they are not always abreast with the latest trends, needs or preferences of the consumers. Usually, the Curricula are updated with a delay as the approval of the Ministry of Education is a long and time-consuming process. Therefore, there are gaps in the introduction of digital tools in fashion design or courses for sustainable ways of production. Most of the times these needs are covered through the knowledge and information provided by the Professors/VET Teachers or through projects and fashion shows that are organized within the schools on the verge of the officially-approved by the Ministry Curriculum.

In Europe, training courses are being created that specifically address the issues of sustainability and in particular those related to the fashion product. It is vitally important to integrate responsible fashion with higher education, so that greater awareness can lead to collaboration, innovation and coordination at all levels. At the very top level, academic institutions and luxury companies are now working together so that they can share their knowledge and collaborate with each other.

An example of this is the International Master in Luxury Management (IMLux), a double degree course dedicated to training professionals in the luxury sector, that has been developed in partnership between MIP Politecnico di Milano, NEOMA Business School, and Prada.

Collaborations such as this between international fashion brands and academic institutions are exciting new initiatives that will ultimately help to train the fashion managers of the future to adapt for a more sustainable world.

Creating a sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry is an important but complex challenge for government, industry, and the public. Currently, there are no legally binding environmental standards enacted through government regulation.

Overall, the fashion industry ultimately thrives on innovation and newness, but with the overproduction and overconsumption that characterize fast fashion, regulation needs to be established to reduce the devastating environmental impact.

Education is at the base of any change in society. Fashion education needs to embed sustainability in as many areas as it can. Fashion universities & institutions are radically rethinking courses to meet changing student aspirations and values. As fashion students become more aware of environmental and social issues, fashion education is facing an existential question. Its response will shape the next generation, with major implications for brands in turn.