Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

The Future of Fashion and the FEI

The following post is from Professor Caroline Daniels, who leads The Fashion Entrepreneurial Initiative. Join the FEI for its Global Fashion Trends event on Monday, November 18, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Launched in the fall of 2016, The Fashion Entrepreneurial Initiative (FEI) supports and inspires students at Babson to create a positive social, environmental, and economic impact in the fashion industry. The FEI is housed at the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship and, over the past four years, has grown to be a community where students can learn from each other and be in contact with fashion companies and industry professionals.

To date, TJX, Wolverine, Life is Good, Baycrews, Ministry of Supply, Artyfactos, Shay Jaffar, Talbots, Bloomingdales, Brass Clothing, Disney, The Good Clothing Company, AKR India, DXL, BeautyLynk, Nic+Zoe, Zumba, Mitchell Gold, Milaaya Embroideries, Christian Dior, and leAR have participated in events that the FEI has hosted.  Babson alumni in fashion, including Michael Bastian, Mike Maher of Taylor Stich, and Gayatri Khanna of Milaaya Embroideries, are enthusiastically supporting Babson College efforts in fashion and lending their knowledge to shape the future of the FEI.

Noting the interest in fashion on campus, Undergraduate Dean Ian Lapp invited Professor Caroline Daniels to create an Entrepreneurship in Fashion course.  The course is heading into its third year in the spring of 2020 and there will be a new course, Entrepreneurship New Ventures in Fashion in London, added to the curriculum in May.  The Entrepreneurship in Fashion course runs in the new Weissman Foundry, utilizing the resources and maker space, which now has seven sewing and one professional-grade embroidery machine. Students from Babson, Olin, and Wellesley have participated in the course and the FEI events.

Each year, the FEI organizes four events.  In the fall semester, a fashion table discussion is open to all who are interested to participate in discussing the fashion agenda at Babson, exploring the resources that students and alumni would like to see on the campus and the strategic direction of the FEI. During Global Entrepreneurship Week, leading companies are invited to share their visions of the future – this year, Alicia Sharp, Director of Christian Dior Boutique, Boston, and Tyler Blake, a Babson alumnus and founder and CEO of LevAR augmented reality, will lead the Future of Fashion discussion. During this event, we will invite the audience to discuss the ever-growing global network of fashion companies at Babson.

The environment is a focus of the FEI.  Working with the Lewis Institute for Social Innovation, the FEI identifies and inspires ways in which the fashion industry can contribute in the efforts to achieve the UN Sustainability Goals.  The Lewis Institute illuminates pathways for students, faculty, staff, foundations, and corporate partners seeking social innovation solutions. Leveraging Professor Daniels’ research work in concert with the efforts of Lewis Institute Executive Director Cheryl Kiser and Associate Director Emily Weiner, the FEI is contributing to the industry-wide effort by creating innovative ways through which fashion companies throughout the global value chain can achieve environmental and social change.

In the spring of 2020, there will be a closer look at how the fashion industry is leading efforts to create a regenerative future. Each year, Professor Daniels participates in the Copenhagen Fashion Summit on the environment, sharing her research on how the fashion industry can build regenerative business models and have a positive effect on the environment.