For a brighter future of the fashion industry, educating new-comers is playing a crucial role.
Therefore I wanted to share the story of dear friend Guido, coordinator /teacher at Amsterdam Fashion Institute, a hero with some real dedication for the younger generations.
Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Hi, my name is Guido Kerssens and for over 32 years I am a teacher/coordinator in AMFI, the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. My heart lies with educating young future professionals, about Denim and production, while keeping a close eye on sustainability. I am coordinating the AMFI Minor Denim together with Jo Watson and we work with a great team of teachers.
You’ve been teaching for so long, what do you love about fashion and teaching?
I always have been inspired by working with younger people and their ideas and solutions. I’m not only interested in students getting a diploma, but instead, I want to encourage them to seek their NorthStar and help them find their place in the Industry. Meeting them back years later and seeing how successful they are is a great joy.
How is your personal insight about sustainable fashion terms, and how do you see the industry’s engagement with it?
Denim is very close to my heart, but on the downside, very polluting. I had my education in Environmental studies in the late ’70s when the subject of Sustainability was not widely known, but it has been on my agenda ever since. In education, I can combine my shared love for Jeans, and my will to change the industry. The denim community has the same passion, and we need to share all this knowledge to come to a cleaner and in that sense, more efficient and circular Denim World.
The numbers are very clear; we, as the fashion industry, are far from creating a positive change and lowering our impact, What are the main reasons to fail?
The World is changing fast, with significant challenges ahead of us. Companies have to invest a lot in research and new innovations. The pace of fashion doesn’t always allow the industry to take the needed steps forward, although the last few years things are moving faster, but not fast enough. I genuinely believe that Industry collaborations with and between relevant educational institutes can speed things up a bit more.
How are your educational practices around sustainable fashion?
AMFI has been a frontrunner in educating sustainability for quite a few years now. We seek collaborations with reliable Industry partners and have had some great results, which inspired the Brands more than once. Virtual Prototyping and creating Avatars has been in the curriculum of AMFI for some time, as has circular strategies. Our current Minor Denim is based around the problem of overstock and how the Brands can find creative and business solutions to waste.
Do you see a rising interest and activism on the environment and social issues;
How has the fashion student profile transformed over the years?
We as teachers are often very inspired by the ideas and solutions of the students, even when these aren’t directly feasible in the current state of the (Fashion) Industry. We want students to think in future scenarios, which already starts in the 1st year. In AMFI topics like sustainability go hand in hand with discussions about climate change, inclusivity, and diversity. I feel that students nowadays are more interested than ever ‘to do the right thing’, rather than having a great career in this glamorous Fashion World. That’s very comforting.
What is your most important word and lesson to teach to the newcomers of the fashion world?
I think I am not a guy of big words. Maybe, learn from the past to make a better future. We have created a World, in which everything seemed possible, but to what cost?
If you really want to work in the fashion industry, you must want to be part of the change.