The fashion industry is a necessary cog in humanity’s wheel, providing us with endless choices for utilitarian protection and artistic expression. It’s the very endlessness of fashion, however, that makes it the second most wasteful industry on the planet. Fashion for Conservation (FFC) was founded by a group of women with an unwavering mission to make a positive impact on the world through conservation-inspired couture. Co-founders Samantha Zwicker (Wildlife Conservationist) and Ava Holmes (Fashion Week/Event Producer) epitomized the combined talents and passions to create fashion campaigns that focus on animal and ecosystems education, while donating funds to wildlife groups.
It’s time to reverse fashion’s impact on the planet from being the second most wasteful industry in the world to becoming a solution to some of the world’s toughest environmental problems.”
-FFC’s Holmes strongly stated in a TEDX talk last November
One of FFC’s biggest campaigns was Elephantasia, a 3-year fashion week campaign bringing conservation into couture with elephant-inspired fashion. While working alongside the African Wildlife Foundation, the campaign raised awareness of the impact of ivory poaching on elephants.
With their annual Rainforest Gala, FFC partners with non-profit Hoja Nueva to drive rainforest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. In previous seasons, the gala has featured animal and rainforest-inspired collections from as many as 12 international designers and hosting 500-800 guests. Hoja Nueva confronts deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon by conserving rainforest, building capacity within remote and indigenous communities by developing micro-financing programs, and empowering women. They likewise implement rigorous scientific research in waste management, water, and wildlife, and they create alternative income opportunities that protect indigenous culture and wildlife habitat. Last year’s gala funded a zero-carbon-footprint eco-lodge in the lowland Amazon rainforest. “Two thousand trees were also planted to help create a research center that provides conservation and agroforestry education in a world threatened by rampant deforestation and climate change,” noted co-founder of FFC and Hoja Nueva director, Samantha Zwicker.
This year, Face the Current attended the 4th annual Seattle Fashion for Conservation Rainforest Gala, a night for fashionistas, nature-lovers, and philanthropists to take a high-style walk through the world’s jungles. Destructive agricultural practices are leaving fragmented forests that store less carbon, adversely impacting wildlife movement and gene flow. This also generates higher levels of atmospheric carbon and a decline in regional species. As part of the recent Paris Accord, conserving rainforest to slow climate change is an urgent matter that requires strong institutional support for projects that shift how we source our food, water, and energy, while supporting rainforest conservation and habitat protection. That’s why the Gala continues to work to save the largest unprotected rainforest in Peru.
♦ This article was originally published in Issue 21 of Face the Current Magazine, featured on pages 56-59. Order a print copy or subscribe to print at our SHOP.