This paper is about the practice of changing fashion design curricula over recent years in the School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University. It proposes the key concerns that influence the design and implementation of a ‘living’ fashion curriculum in Melbourne, Australia. It addresses the need to challenge knowledge systems around ethics, place, environment, industry systems, gender and reconciliation. Australia as a colonised country that sits unreconciled with indigenous sovereignty implicates the basis of knowledge systems. The diaspora of European migration in Australia further adds to complexities around origins of disciplinary knowledge and place. Fashion systems are bound in models of industry practices derived from specific places. We refer to the origins of RMIT Fashion Design in the founding institution of Emily McPherson College of Domestic Economy from the early twentieth century.
The key elements of curriculum design try to address inequalities in learning experience and ethical paradigms of disciplinary knowledges and belief systems. The research contributes to scholarship around ‘transforming’ fashion education, decolonial contexts and curriculum for diversity specifically in an Australian context. In questioning the epistemological nature of disciplinary knowledge in fashion design we reflect on how dress and wider clothing practices and cultures are marginal to ‘fashion’ industries. Conducted via the first phase of implementing a new curriculum, flexible program structures and specialisations soften disciplinary boundaries, supporting diverse ways of doing and making fashion. The theoretical and historical framework provides a way to discuss how the new curriculum supports alternate learning, knowledge systems and approaches to the discipline.