Summer Rayne Oakes at "Pay It Fashion Forward" in New York City. Credit: Emma Grady
Eco-model and activist Summer Rayne Oakes and fast fashion brand Forever 21 are hardly--if ever--used in the same sentence. But the two came together, along with hosts Emmanuelle Chriqui of HBO's Entourage and Bryan Greenberg of HBO's How To Make It In America, to help raise funds for Fashion Delivers, a non-profit that has secured $25 million worth of product--diverted from landfills--from fashion companies to aid Haiti relief--now they just have to cover the shipping costs! I stopped by the event Tuesday evening in New York City to learn more about the organization and possibly become more involved with their philanthropic work.
I sat down with Summer Rayne Oakes before for the awards ceremony, Forever 21 fashion show, and bowling ensued and caught up with her on Source 4 Style, her most recent sustainable fashion sourcing marketplace project; the BP oil spill, and more:
"Pay It Fashion Forward" hosts for the evening Bryan Greenberg and Emmanuelle Chriqui. Credit: Emma Grady
As a spokesperson for Planet Green, author of Style, Naturally, and an eco-model Summer Rayne Oakes is no stranger to the pages of TreeHugger. We instantly got to talking about how the non-profit Fashion Delivers, and the event as a whole, provides a platform for conventional fashion brands to get involved in philanthropic efforts. Summer Rayne spoke to how this particular event "Pay It Fashion Forward" gave fashion companies the opportunity to give back and provide relief efforts to Haiti through the donation of their excess apparel, accessories, and home goods.
Forever 21 + Summer Rayne Oakes. One of these Things is not Like the Other.
When I asked about the unlikely pairing of a fashion brand like Forever 21 and her, the "eco-model" (FYI: She did not model in the runway show), she said that "We can all play in the same sand box." She further explained that "I may have a shovel and you may have a pail but we can build a sand castle together" and that we can still make change, no matter what you bring to the table. Forever 21 did, after all, donate $900,000 worth of product--otherwise landfill bound--to Haiti relief efforts.
Summer Rayne Oakes stuns in a silk dress by Isoude, designed by Katie Brierly. Credit: Emma Grady
I asked Summer Rayne if she thought we needed a natural disaster to ignite philanthropic efforts. She said that it is a reactive approach and that she hopes we can be more proactive. Which brings us to her most recent endeavor Source 4 Style, an online marketplace for designers to source sustainable textiles, which has recently launched in beta. Some designers we know like Caroline Priebe of Uluru and Tara St. James of Study NY are taking part. And they are accepting at least 15 more fashion and interior designers, and a market research session may ensue at her home--if you're lucky!
Summer Rayne Oakes accepts award at "Pay It Fashion Forward" with host Emmanuelle Chriqui. Credit: Emma Grady
I congratulated Summer Rayne on being honored by Fashion Delivers and she said it was nice to have affirmation for her work and exclaimed that we need to have an environmental conscience at the core of business structure. Other honorees included Helena Houdova, founder Sunflower Children Organization; Carlos Campos, a men's and women's wear designer; and Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty.
Summer Rayne Oakes on the BP Oil Spill
Our conversation inevitably shifted to the oil spill in the Gulf. She observed that environmental issues have no borders and said she was shocked by the lack of foresight on BP's part. We both acknowledged how the oil spill feels far away even if we are looking at photos, reading, and hearing about it daily, and as Summer Rayne said, watching (in disbelief) as people fill up their tanks at BP gas stations.
I mentioned a great interactive map that we covered here on TreeHugger If It Was My Home, it helps visualize the mass of the oil spill in a familiar location. Summer Rayne stressed the need for people to connect the natural environment with their daily lives and believes that people may finally realize the enormity of the oil spill--and the connectivity of our ecosystems--when dinner menus are depleted of seafood options.
Lucky Strike bowling lanes serve as a runway for a Forever 21 fashion show. Credit: Emma Grady
Overall the evening highlighted how conventional fashion companies are pursuing philanthropic work, most often associated with green fashion, and we hope more companies donate excess product as opposed to trashing it--ahem, H&M; and Urban Outfitters.
But we want to hear from you, does Forever 21 deserve a nod? Or are they solely in the--not to be seen, touched, or heard--fast fashion category?