These are some of the female leaders building a sustainable fashion future.
Between International Women’s Day, March4Woman and WOW – Women of the World Festival, March is shaping up to be an exciting four weeks for all the female-identified people out there. And, with the Sustainability Summit 2019 and Fashion Revolution events looming large on the horizon, it’s also a poignant time for conversations surrounding ethical practice and sustainable business models in fashion. Fittingly, many of those conversations are being started by a plethora of female innovators. From app-creators and bloggers to ethical living journalists, here are a handful of the inspirational women leaders leading the charge in sustainability.
Amy Ann Cadwell
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Good Trade
Ethical consumers may already be familiar with LA-based initiative The Good Trade, a digital media and lifestyle brand pioneering the very best sustainable projects across fashion, beauty, travel, culture and home interiors through its podcasts, articles and weekly newsletter. Editor-in-Chief and founder Amy Ann Cadwell, who has background in social entrepreneurship and economics, founded the initiative in 2014 with her husband.
Passionate about digital and social storytelling, Cadwell envisioned The Good Trade as a conversation generator and “gathering place” for socially conscious consumers. Her business model hinges on the idea that everyday shoppers have the power to engender real change by “voting with their everyday purchases for a world that is sustainable and free from forced labour”.
Founder of Fashion Revolution Week
In 1990, on a research trip to Ecuador to study textile production, Carry Somers had a revelatory moment. Watching local wool being bundled into the weighing scales and disproportionately charged to the farmers who had worked hard to produce it, she felt a palpable “sense of outrage”. The experience saw her abandon her PhD and embark on a mission to make a difference in the fashion industry, first by launching fair trade alpaca knitwear line Pachacuti and later Fashion Revolution, a not-for-profit global movement which campaigns for systemic reform across the industry.
Somers spearheaded the latter initiative following the collapse of factory building Rana Plaza in 2013, a disaster which killed more than 1,000 workers. Since then, the Fashion Revolution team has pushed for greater transparency through a combination of investigative research, engaging content and inspiring events, including conscious fashion summits, workshops, consumer surveys and the Fashion Transparency Index, which reveals what the biggest 150 brands share about their supply chain. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #whomademyclothes or call for radical change by signing your name to the Fashion Revolution Manifesto.
Ethical living journalist
Author, BBC presenter and journo-extraordinaire **Lucy Siegle i**s a tour de force in sustainability reportage, writing with flair, passion and pin-sharp precision on everything from the health of our oceans to Burberry’s infamous “bonfire of vanities”.
Siegle has penned columns on environmental issues for The Observer for a decade (in 2004, she created the paper’s Observer Ethical awards), while her years of working on live outside broadcasts have helped her hone the warm and informative stage presence that has won her hosting roles at awards ceremonies and on sustainability panels around the globe. In amongst those achievements, she’s founded The Green Carpet Challenge, which calls on the world’s top designers to implement sustainable style at major fashion events such as the Oscars. Her desire to widen the appeal of issues relating to fashion ethics is set out in her acclaimed book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World?
Founder and CEO of Save Your Wardrobe
Entrepreneur Hasna Kourda used her background in economics and fashion tech to devise Save Your Wardrobe, an app that digitises the contents of the user’s wardrobe with the aim of remedying that age-old ‘wardrobe full of clothes, nothing to wear’ dilemma.
Combining AI (Artificial Intelligence) with IoT (Internet of Things), Save Your Wardrobe is rather like an elevated sartorial version of a practical money dashboard app, allowing users to manage their wardrobe as they do their finances, using handy visuals and reminders to contextualise purchases, maximise resources and set budgets.
Kourda, who has worked with the Ethical Fashion Forum and in luxury retail, increasingly found that her clients were disconnected from the contents of their wardrobe. She envisioned the app as a means of “making conscious shopping recommendations based on what you already own”, and encouraging users to covet their own belongings in the process.
Editor-in-Chic and Founder of Conscious & Chic
Kathleen Elie worked in the fashion world for years before growing disheartened with the social and environmental issues inherent to her industry. Her response was Conscious & Chic, a fashion and lifestyle blog which combines her knowledge of fashion with her background in finance to promote smart purchases, ethical business models and cruelty free products.
In 2018 Elie featured in North Face’s #SheMovesMountains campaign, a project which canvased the world for inspiring female explorers and storytellers. Outside of blogging, Elie speaks on labour trafficking in fashion, sustainability, women’s issues and empowerment.
Writer: Mary-Jane Wiltsher