Summer Rayne Oakes presents ‘Eco-Trends: The Art & Science of Sourcing Sustainably’ // ECO Fashion Week Vancouver

ECO Fashion Week Vancouver, September 30th, 2010 // Day three: Summer Rayne Oakes

Summer Rayne Oakes – Eco-Trends: The Art & Science of Sourcing Sustainably
 

Summer Rayne Oakes, Image via Jute & Jackfruit

BIO//
Summer Rayne Oakes is a model-activist, author of bestselling style guide Style, Naturally and a young entrepreneur focused on environmental sustainability in business. She has developed more environmentally-preferable collections with a variety of brands, including Payless ShoeSource’s zoe&zac line and Portico Home & Spa. Her unique positioning as both a brand ambassador and environmental strategist keeps her busy on and off camera, advising and consulting on various aspects of design, production and practice. She is now launching a new company called Source4Style, which is an online marketplace that allows designers to purchase more sustainable materials from around the world.
Vanity Fair has named Oakes a “Global Citizen,” Outside called her one of the “Top Environmental Activists,” and CNBC called her one of the “Top 10 Green Entrepreneurs of 2010.” Summer Rayne is a graduate of Cornell University with degrees in Environmental Science and Entomology and is a Udall environmental scholar.
NOTES //
–          Background – grew up in NE Pennsylvania country. Brought home insects, etc…. A lot of people in cities never have these experiences!-          At University studied sewage sludge; toxic organic contaminants from laundry chemicals, food, body products.

–          SRO wanted to reach more people than possible through entomology so headed for fashion.

–          She headed a beauty shoot with a model and bees in order to highlight the plight of bees – 3 billion dead in the last four years.

–          Style, naturally – book by SRO. Talking about sustainability good but to get through to fashion, needs a whole infrastructure to support i.e. fabrics available, etc.

–          Case Study – Payless Shoes

–          Zoe & Zac $30 and less sustainable shoes. Using water based glues, organic cotton, recycled rubber and cardboard. Recycled packaging, sales of reusable bags with $1 per bag to planting trees in Brazilian forest; $1 per tree

–          Shipping by rail not air

–          Portico home

–          Products get ‘in’ i.e. pillow offers 20% more sleep, plus bonus environmentally friendly. Film campaigns make organic & natural etc.

–          Source4Style – ‘we source, you design’. Designers spend up to 85% of time sourcing. Market research on annual budget and yards purchased

–          B2B (business to business). Based online because not all designers make it to tradeshows. Images include close-ups etc. 30 suppliers, 1000+ materials. More coming.

–          Big brands are signed up ! Adidas, levis, sears, lululemon, MEC, Barneys NY etc

–          What is sustainable? Organic, recycled, biopolymer, process from farm to factory environmentally friendly, fair trade, fair labor, handmade, traditional,.

–          Sustainability is a moving target. Continued Improvement is required, full disclosure and transparency required. Ask the right questions to find out what’s really going on with factories etc.

–          Designers see source4style.com

–          Suppliers see source4style.com/suppliers

–          info@source4style.com

–          347.338.110

Q&A //
  • Do you work with existing suppliers only or are you looking to expand?

–          Both. We’ve got the known ones and are open to developing newer ones. Consumer demand dictates this a lot.

  • How does a eco friendly shoe for $30 not impact labour costs?

–          Payless shoes is 50 years old.  They have standards. Zoe & Zac has to be tame in terms of design in order to be able to sell and make money and keep design costs down.

  • As a consumer, I was sceptical of Zoe & Zac being sustainable and ethical because it’s so cheap and sold at payless.

–          I wanted to work with companies who’re already trying to become environmentally responsible. Big companies who aren’t like that but are at least making an effort are worth helping.

  • What do you see in the future?

–          More brands will be doing this. Eventually brands won’t say ‘green’ or ‘eco’, it’ll just be part of it.

  • Do you have contact with fashion schools?

–          Once the website is up and running, this will be a good project. My book Style, naturally is used as a teaching aid and several universities have signed up.  Students are the future and so this is very important.

Mary Hanlon

Mary is the founder, editor and lead contributor at Social Alterations. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, where she researches responsible fashion and transnational labour rights activism in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Vimeo 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *