As part of the partnership with the University of Leeds, Marks and Spencer were keen to encourage student engagement in the launch of ‘The Enterprise of Culture’; a three-year European research project into the business history of fashion since 1945, led by Professor Regina Lee Blasczcyk, Chair of the History of Business and Society in the School of History. The strong fashion and business themes and the involvement of the M&S Company Archive lent themselves to an interdisciplinary fashion-based competition and was an opportunity to reflect the mutual priority of sustainability at M&S and University of Leeds. The competition provided the opportunity to showcase the talent of Leeds students and for them to have their work displayed to a wide audience and judged by the expert panel from the Enterprise of Culture Research team.
‘Simply Sustain’ by Gabriella Klimaszewski, Etton Yang and Iris Zhen was chosen in first place. The judges were impressed by the winning group’s slogan and how it resonated with the M&S brand and thought that the strategy of reusing fabric that would otherwise be discarded showed a clear and original commitment to sustainability.
‘Your M&S – Sustainable Fashion: Next Generation’ came a close second. The judges liked the innovative way of using modern technology and QR codes to educate about the manufacture and sourcing of materials.
Both groups were made up of students studying the MA Fashion Enterprise and Society masters programme.
Since opening in early 2012, the M&S archive has provided an excellent resource for over 2,000 students to engage with a valuable and varied collection in a dynamic business archive. Working with academics across the University, the archive team helps support and deliver projects on subjects ranging from gender studies to geography, store design to sustainability. The archivists also provide induction sessions and guest lecture on programmes including those at the Lifelong Learning Centre and the School of Design.