the women of fashion climate justice
By Sara Jane Strickland
Five women from around the globe leading the way for climate activism within the fashion industry
Céline Semaan, founder and creative director of the nonprofit education initiative Study Hall, is credited with coining the term “fashion activism.” Study Hall holds an annual summit at UN headquarters in New York and is an official UN collaborator. They lead “global conferences throughout the year fostering partnerships and education around sustainability literacy in Fashion and beyond.” They bring people of cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary backgrounds together to explore “tangible eco-solutions to bring to market.” The next summit takes place on January 31, 2020 at The New York Times Center and will discuss Climate Positivity At Scale.
Ex-ethical fashion designer Maxine Bedat has a degree from Columbia Law School and is the founder and director of the New Standard Institute. The organization’s mission is to help brands make impactful change by 2030.They aim to do this by transforming the global apparel industry “into a force for good, by unifying and driving it to achieve critical, science-based environmental and social objectives.” The NSI has been featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Business of Fashion discussing topics from the questionable claims of recycled polyester to radical transparency on what an ethical and sustainable company looks like — or, in their words, to be able to “see the forest through the greenwash.”
Orsola de Castro
Orsola de Castro is founder and creative director of the organization Fashion Revolution and a renowned industry leader in sustainable fashion. Her career started as a designer in the mid 90’s with the pioneering upcycling label From Somewhere. Fashion Revolution envisions “A global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.” Among many things, their key aims are to end human and environmental exploitation in the global fashion industry, to create a “culture of transparency” — one that recognizes the value of craftsmanship, and put an end to throwaway culture and waste. She also holds a seat on the Environment, Human Rights & Labor Advisory Council at New Standard Institute, and is an Advisor for Study Hall.
Faith Robinson is a consultant, creative strategist, and producer with 8 years’ experience in retail, tech and sustainability strategy for the fashion industry. She is currently programming the Copenhagen Fashion Summit for Global Fashion Agenda, among others. She runs the website Entry Level Activism, which “hopes to encourage more people to engage beyond the massive amount of entry points for positive change in the fashion and lifestyle industries by supporting continued action.” It also has a very educational and witty Instagram account.
Carry Somers is also a founder and the operations director for Fashion Revolution. She was inspired to found Fashion Revolution after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 in Bangladesh. Before that, Carry had worked with her fashion brand Pachacuti for the previous 20 years, pioneering “radical supply chain transparency, mapping the GPS coordinates of each stage of the production process, from the community plantations where the straw grows, through to each Panama hat weaver’s house.”