International Women’s Day 2022: The Women of CFS+

By Constance Beswick

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Both climate change and fashion are feminist issues – there is a patent intersection between women, the climate crisis and the clothes we wear.

The majority of garment workers are women and, among other underrepresented groups, are disproportionately affected by gender-based discrimination and violence in the workplace. Not only this, but women are often the hardest hit by the implications of climate change and the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. Climate change exacerbates the existing results of deep-rooted gender inequality.

It is crucial to focus on intersectionality, acknowledging the vast scope of women’s experiences on the basis of racial identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, nationality, religion, size, identity and socio-economic status. These are all inextricably linked.

A great deal needs to happen if we are to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality by 2030.

In light of this, we are highlighting just some of the many inspiring women who shared their views during CFS+ 2021 regarding the impact of the fashion industry and the urgent actions needed.

 

Change Agents

At the heart of industry progress are the inspiring change agents who are challenging conventional fashion practices through their advocacy and work.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, and
Brooklyn native. She is the founder of non-profit think tank URBAN OCEAN LAB, founder and CEO of OCEAN COLLECTIV, and co-creator of the podcast HOW TO SAVE A PLANET, alongside co-editing the anthology ALL WE CAN SAVE and co-founding The All We Can Save Project in support of women climate leaders. Her mission is to build community around climate solutions.

Watch Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s panel discussion on ‘Equity vs.
Equality’ here.

Teju Adisa-Farrar is a Jamaican-American writer, geographer, facilitator,
speaker, researcher and poet. For over a decade Teju has worked to connect the dots between environmental, social, cultural and ecological issues. Her focus is on environmental and cultural equity, circular fibre and food systems, climate justice, Black geographies, urbanism and decolonial futures. Adisa-Farrar uses a transnational lens that is informed by history, art and activism.

She spends her time consulting with progressive organizations, facilitating intersectional conversations, supporting community initiatives, working on creative projects, and giving talks on urgent topics.

Watch Teju Adisa-Farrar’s keynote speech on ‘Collective Prosperity in the Fashion Industry’ here.

Yara Shahidi is an award-winning actress, producer, change agent, and breakout star of ABC’s Emmy-and Golden Globe-nominated series black-ish. Off-screen, Yara is a full-time student at Harvard University where she is earning a B.A. in Social Studies and African American studies. She is a champion for inclusive media programming and an advocate for equity.

Watch Yara Shahidi’s 1:1 conversation on ‘Consumer vs. Citizen here.

Academia

Researchers and educators informing the next generation of citizens are vital to the industry.

Else Skjold is one of the leading researchers on fashion sustainability in Denmark, and also Head of MA ‘New Landscapes for Change; Fashion, Clothing and Textiles’, at the Royal Danish Academy. She is a leading voice and communicator in the public debate about green transition of the fashion- and textiles sector in DK. Skjold is part of the group of Scandinavian and British researchers who developed the so-called wardrobe research from the mid- 2000’s and onwards, investigating how consumers value and use clothing. Since then, she has continued this approach in her collaborations with Danish fashion and textile companies for developing, testing and implementing green transition in the sector.

Watch Else Skjold’s Case Study on ‘Development vs. Degrowth’ here.

Else Skjold is one of the leading researchers on fashion sustainability in Denmark, and also Head of MA ‘New Landscapes for Change; Fashion, Clothing and Textiles’, at the Royal Danish Academy. She is a leading voice and communicator in the public debate about green transition of the fashion- and textiles sector in DK. Skjold is part of the group of Scandinavian and British researchers who developed the so-called wardrobe research from the mid- 2000’s and onwards, investigating how consumers value and use clothing. Since then, she has continued this approach in her collaborations with Danish fashion and textile companies for developing, testing and implementing green transition in the sector.

Watch Else Skjold’s Case Study on ‘Development vs. Degrowth’ here.

Kenya Wiley is a policy counsel and professor focused on fashion law, technology and social justice. Currently serving on the faculty at Georgetown University and the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School. Wiley has conducted research and written on the intersection of fashion law, politics and policy —with bylines in WWD, Fashionista, ELLE and CNN. In 2017, Wiley was named one of WWD’s Women Leaders in Business, and was awarded Howard Law School’s 2012 Intelligent Design Award for her outstanding contributions in fashion law and policy. Wiley also chaired ASTM’s inaugural Task Group on Data Security for Smart Textiles.

Watch Kenya Wiley’s panel discussion on ‘Value vs. Volume’ here.

Designers

The fashion industry must celebrate women who design with strong sustainability values in mind, their decisions have a ripple effect on the entire value chain.

Nicole McLaughlin is a multidisciplinary designer based in New York City. Since 2018, McLaughlin has explored greater possibilities for sustainability through self-initiated and collaborative efforts alike. While sustainability is often used as a marketing buzzword because of its PR value, McLaughlin’s accessible, witty, and functional practice serves as a reminder that sustainability is actually an operational philosophy. By transforming discarded miscellanea into objects with new, imaginative, and often unexpected utility, McLaughlin shows how a circular approach to design and manufacturing can help us reframe waste as an opportunity.

Watch Nicole McLaughlin’s panel discussion on ‘Pace vs. Persistence’ here.

Sunshine Bertrand is an eyewear designer, with a commitment to evolving the eyewear industry towards a more responsible future. Bertrand has 15 years of specialised experience within the industry, and is currently Eyewear Design Director for Bottega Veneta and Chloe. Sunshine and her team have become known for a unique approach driving innovation while creating highly desirable products.

Watch Sunshine Bertrand’s Case Study on ‘Behind the Scenes of the Designer Challenge’ here.

Fashion Leaders

Focusing on the women at the helm of organisations, we look towards the leaders with sustainability and social justice at the core of their work.

Ayesha Barenblat is a social entrepreneur with a passion for building sustainable supply chains that respect people and our planet. With over a decade of leadership, she founded Remake to ignite a conscious consumer movement, through rebuilding human connections with the women who make our clothes. Barenblat has worked with brands, governments, and labour advocates to improve the lives of the women who make our clothes.

She led brand engagement at Better Work, a World Bank and United Nations partnership to ensure safe and decent working conditions within garment factories around the world.

Watch Ayesha Baernblat’s panel discussion on ‘Expectations vs. Ethics’ here.

Debbie Shakespeare’s entire career has revolved around the broader apparel supply chain, and has been driving meaningful and impactful results within the Apparel Solutions division of Avery Dennison for the past decade. As the Senior Director overseeing Sustainability, Compliance and Core Product Line Management, Shakespeare ensures Avery Dennison is on track to deliver on its 2030 goals and holds suppliers to appropriate environmental and social sustainability standards. She also serves as a sustainability spokesperson to other organisations and companies.

Watch Debbie Shakespeare’s panel discussion on ‘Clarity vs. Complexity’ here.

Halide Alagöz is Executive Vice President, Chief Product and Sustainability Officer of Ralph Lauren Corporation. She is responsible for all areas of supply chain, from product development, sourcing to delivery of products worldwide. Alagöz also oversees Ralph Lauren’s Sustainability strategy and initiatives. Alagöz earned both her Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and her Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Istanbul Technical University. She is also a member of the Board of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA).

Watch Halide Alagöz’s panel discussion on ‘Clarity vs. Complexity’ here.

Jenna Johnson is the head of Patagonia’s apparel and equipment business; overseeing the division as the company works to align its business more strongly with its mission and sport communities while continuing to uphold a legendary reputation of quality and excellence. Johnson has worked to advance Patagonia’s mission to save our home planet, bringing environmental stewardship to the company’s technical innovation.

Never willing to sacrifice performance, she is resolved that even the most technical gear can be made with sensitivity to the environment and the people, animals and plants that inhabit it.

Watch Jenna Johnson’s 1:1 Conversation on ‘Innovation vs. Legacy’ here.

Stephanie Crespin is passionate about fashion sustainability and providing impactful solutions to brands and consumers.   In 2013, she launched online luxury destination STYLETRIBUTE.COM, in Singapore after identifying an opportunity to offer high-end fashion lovers a curated digital platform to sell and buy pre-loved luxury designer items, combined with a free premium concierge service.  Motivated by this experience and realising some immediate opportunities in the pre-loved luxury market, Stephanie’s launched Reflaunt in 2017 providing brands with the technology to build and have a strong presence in the secondary market and for consumers to sell their luxury items back on the brands digital platform where they originally made the purchase.

Watch Stephanie Crespin’s Case Study on ‘Development vs. Degrowth’ here.

Zinnia Kumar is an Ecologist, Consumer Behaviour & Organisational Business Psychologist, Writer and Fashion Model. She is the founder of The Dotted Line (TDL) a global advertising studio bridging culture and commerce. Kumar is a CIEEM Chartered Ecologist and Conservation Biologist, having worked in the Australian outback with government and non-government organisations carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment’s as well as the preservation of wildlife and rehabilitation of mass land areas due to post mining & manufacturing industry impacts. Kumar’s personal work addresses science communication in the fashion space, diversity within the eco & fashion sector, sustainability, environmental impacts and addressing circularity in fashion and business practices.

Watch Zinnia Kumar’s keynote speech on ‘How brands can overcome greenwash scepticism in advertising’ here.

Policymakers 

Whilst the work from specific brands is important, it is critical that we begin to see legislative changes at the policy level to really incentivise industry action.

Mariya Gabriel is the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth and Sport. Under her leadership, the new Horizon Europe, Erasmus+, and the cultural strand of Creative Europe programmes will be defined and implemented. Her main priorities are excellence in research, innovation and education (ERA, EEA, EIA); tackling the R&I divide in Europe; Europe as a leader in strategic innovation areas through the digital and green transition, with a particular attention for young people and regions.

Watch Mariya Gabriel’s keynote speech on ‘Supporting creative and sustainable industries’ here.

Rozalina Petrova is a Member of the Cabinet of the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius where she works for accelerating the transition to a sustainable, more circular economy that works for the people and making sustainable products the norm. She joined the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission in 2010 to develop the EU policy to use resources more efficiently and integrate environmental considerations in economic governance. Previously she has been responsible for sustainable development, green jobs and mainstreaming of environmental policy in economic affairs, alongside working on EU policies and legislation to increase the recycling of waste and its use as a valuable raw material.

Watch Rozalina Petrova’s panel discussion on ‘Value vs. Volume’ here.

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