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MA Global Communications

AUP Alumnae Drive Change in the Fashion Industry

April 16, 2024

Sara Wynn is Website and Internal Communications Manager at AUP and a graduate of the Fashion track, which is one of the options students can choose in the MA in Global Communications (MACG) program. Fiona Schlumberger will graduate this May from the same MAGC track after completing her master’s thesis on Buddhist ethics and rebuilding connections with clothing. The two women met at AUP and have joined forces to put together a conference featuring some big names in the sustainable fashion world to discuss how to drive change in the sector. On April 20th 2024, Wynn and Schlumberger, along with five other student and alumni members of the organizing committee, two AUP faculty members and two faculty members from the London College of Fashion, hosted the Symposium on Fashion Communication for Socio-Ecological Transformation, a hybrid event that was free and open to all. “Our goal was to position AUP as a leader in this space and to enable discussion and exchange,” says Schlumberger.

The conference project was borne of their previous work involving “critically thinking about what we are in the fashion world,” and “questioning what it means to be a consumer.” After meeting at AUP through mutual friends and fashion events, both attended a fashion conference organized by AUP professor Renate Stauss held at Berlin University of the Arts (De-Fashioning Education conference in Berlin, September 2023). As part of a student think-tank, AUP students worked with their peers from the Berlin University to discuss what they would do tomorrow as a response to the idea of de-growth and de-fashioning the fashion system. Both women wondered how they could take action in fashion education and developed the idea to hold a conference of their own at AUP. As it would happen, this project overlapped with work in progress by Professor Stauss and Professor Sophie Kurkdjian’s in collaboration with the London College of Fashion. By pooling their ideas and putting together a committee, they were able to make it happen. 

Fashion symposium Steering Committee
(From left) Fiona Schlumberger, Sara Wynn, Michelle Doyle, Maddie Czarnik, and Elsa Darlington at the De-Fashioning Education conference in Berlin, September 2023

In addition to her passion for fashion, Fiona Schlumberger also invested her time in Peacock while at AUP, as Editor for the Digital Media Writing class and Communications Manager. “Before AUP, I never saw how all those things could fit together,” says Wynn of fashion, ethics and communication, whose background is in textile design, with a fine arts degree and several years of experience as a designer in New York. The MAGC program gave her “a well-rounded idea of the fashion industry” and taught her to “communicate about it physically, visually and verbally.”

The conference, with a range of interactive features and events, invited participants to tackle questions such as:

  • How can we harness fashion’s immense cultural storytelling power for well-being, dignity, and equity?
  • Which forms of fashion communication have the potential to deeply connect us to each other? and
  • If it were up to you, what could fashion communication really do? 

Our goal was to position AUP as a leader in this space and to enable discussion and exchange.

– Fiona Schlumberger

Talks were held featuring esteemed experts such as Rachel Arthur, a UN environmental program officer; Aditi Mayer, a visual storyteller and climate activist; and Louise Xin, a Paris-based designer who has worked with the EU to help align human rights and design. Speakers, organizers and participants interacted to propose concrete solutions.

Schlumberger presented her master’s research and workshops were held, including a hands-on embroidery workshop led by Wynn (Full program available here).

Schlumberger and Wynn both came to AUP for the reputation of its MA in Global Communications program, known for its savvy blend of practical and theoretical work and, as hoped, they found the experience to be incredibly valuable both intellectually and professionally.