The Fashion Design Department at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) has launched a new initiative called Eco Luxury Laboratory – Eco Lux Lab – to put sustainability as the new focus and responsibility of the luxury sector, local and global alike. VCUarts Qatar is a partner university of Qatar Foundation. 

According to Christopher Fink, Chair of Fashion Design at VCUarts Qatar, they are recognising and responding to the reality that fashion has been ignored as a major polluter for too many years. He said that they are going to infuse their Fashion Design programme with the knowledge and skills that they want students to absorb – instilling this generation of fashion professionals with a perspective on sustainability and its importance in their profession.

We will do this by focusing on the fusion of luxury and environmental sensitivity in this new initiative.

VCUarts Qatar sees Eco Lux Lab as an opportunity to ensure that the new generation are mindful of their environmental responsibilities, and aware that luxury can be sustainable and beautiful, without having to sacrifice the former to ensure the success of the latter.

The aim of the initiative is to bring students and the local community in Qatar together with world class luxury innovators to educate and address the new codes and benchmarks of sustainability in the luxury market today.

Fink said that they will conduct workshops in the Eco Lux Lab and invite the local community to participate along with the students.

We will show how environmentally-aware and collectible luxury products can be designed and created. Fast fashion is out, and sustainability is here to stay, particularly in the high-end luxury goods sector.

Eco Lab workshopIn the first online workshop, which will take place live this Saturday, 31 October, participants can step inside the workshop of an Italian artisan and discover the secrets of artisanal handbag making.

The region of Emilia Romagna is a productive hub where manufacturing excellence in tailoring and accessories create the magic of ‘Made in Italy’. The workshop will unveil how a design becomes reality in the expert hands of a master artisan.

Participants can meet the craftsman, Rino Magnani, known for his eagle eye for proportions and his passion for perfection and join him on his journey through the art of luxury leather work.

VCUarts Qatar faculty member Federica Visani will be streaming the process step-by-step from the workshop in Italy. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions. Click HERE to register for the workshop.

Other workshops in the upcoming Eco-Lux Lab series will include:

  • The ‘Denim, Designers and Divas’ workshop, which will be led by Bill Curtin, the owner of BPD Washhouse in New York, described as ‘a true denim studio for pure development’. Bill has developed sustainable denim for top designers in America as well as some of the biggest divas on reality TV.
  • World famous fashion illustrator Richard Haines from Brooklyn, whose work has helped re-emerge the art of fashion illustration and replaced the extensive carbon footprints associated with conducting editorial photo shoots.
  • An online visit to the London studio of artist Helen Kirkum who will conduct a workshop on her ‘made to order’ waste materials sneakers which have been causing a huge sensation in London’s art and fashion circles.

The Eco Lux Lab workshops are supported by the Community and Continuing Education programme at VCUarts Qatar. Find out more at