Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Model of Fashionable Sustainability

While I frequently use wording like the title above to introduce a concept, company or product, this time, I really mean a model: Pennsylvania native Summer Rayne Oakes. While pictures demonstrate that Oakes has what it takes to hold her own on the runways of New York and Milan, this twenty-one year old woman is also working behind the scenes to promote environmentally and socially responsible fashion.

Oakes' latest endeavor is a montly column for Lucire magazine entitled "Behind the Label."In the column, Oakes delves into the fashion labels she believes are combining style with responsibility:
“I suppose I could focus on all the clothing labels out there that are exploitive of their labor force and that employ harsh environmental regimes. I don’t overlook those issues, but I have a tendency to focus on positive messages, rather than those that are preachy and gloomy. It’s reflective of the fact that my generation is sick of finger-pointing; we are eager to be part of the solutions, sometimes we just have trouble finding what solutions are out there.”

“In this editorial,” Oakes continues, “it’s my goal to bring a human connection to fashion and allow consumers to put their money where their ideas are. There are so many emerging labels that are positively amazing and not getting the press they deserve. I want Behind the Label to reflect those stories.”
Oakes brings to her columns not only her experience in modeling, but also work as a fashion industry consultant and environmental researcher. She began modelling while a student at Cornell University, and currently serves as a member of the UN's US Partnership Youth Sector Team. Oakes is also involved in EcoFashion Runway and EcoFashion 101, and recently wrote a cover story on eco-fashion for the September issue of Yogi Times magazine (in PDF).

In case it's not obvious, I'm very impressed... Let's hope we not only see Summer Rayne Oakes in many photo spreads to come, but also hear her voice as awareness of the relationship between fashion and the environment continues to grow.

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