Conscious Fashion Campaign and the Sustainable Development Goals
Aequem is delighted to bring you this interview with Kerry Bannigan, founder of the Conscious Fashion Campaign. We are here to find our all about her work and the Sustainable Development Goals and how each business and individual can contribute to these!
- Tell us about yourself and your journey with working in sustainability
I am a social impact event creator, producer and entrepreneur curating global activations and initiatives that advocate sustainable development. My scope of work has always aimed to cultivate creative entrepreneurship in fashion and retail, support small business, drive economic development and spearhead social impact. The realm of sustainability has spanned many definitions over my 15-year career.
In 2007 I co-founded my first company, an event production company in New York City that created a leading New York Fashion Week showcase for independent fashion designers including the Ethical Fashion Preview.
In 2009 I developed Independent Retail Week, a city-wide fashion shopping event to stimulate the local economy, forging public-private partnerships with Mayor’s offices, Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Boards in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Jersey. In 2011 the event expanded into Independent Retailer Month marking July as an annual celebration in United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada.
In 2012 I brought my experience to the PVBLIC Foundation as a Board Member to help amplify their work to champion for change. Sustainable development advisory projects included It’s On US launched by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Global Citizen, smartwater + Michelle Obama’s Drink Up Campaign, G8 Young Leaders Summit and New York Global Leaders Dialogue.
Today I am a founding member of the SDG Media Zone, serving as the Executive Producer in partnership with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, United Nations Foundation and the PVBLIC Foundation. Since 2016, the SDG Media Zone has been one of the main features of the UN General Assembly high-level week.
In 2019 I launched the Conscious Fashion Campaign, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, to engage the fashion industry to commit to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- What motivated you to create the Conscious Fashion Campaign?
When the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015 I was heavily involved in impact events and activations around these. The United Nations Office for Partnerships and I would discuss the disconnect between two of the largest sectors – the United Nations and the fashion industry. The fashion sector is highly influential as well as also playing a large role in negatively impacting people and planet.
The Conscious Fashion Campaign champions fashion to address the world’s most pressing issues and is dedicated to driving change through advocacy, education and engagement of industry stakeholders to create a sustainable future for all.
- We would like to tell our readers more about the Conscious Fashion Campaign - what are your key goals?
The Conscious Fashion Campaign seeks to inspire industry stakeholders to implement responsible marketing, operations and logistics that are mindful of social, economic and environmental impact.
To achieve the 2030 agenda, the Conscious Fashion Campaign urges industry leaders to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into their business models, incorporate circular production solutions, highlight key innovations and facilitate knowledge share.
The Conscious Fashion Campaign commits to actively support the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development by bridging the gap between the United Nations and the global fashion industry to enable the Sustainable Development Goals to scale and create multi-stakeholder partnerships with concrete strategies for action.
- Now a little more about you… what does a working day in your life look like?
Currently in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic I am working in lockdown in England with my husband and three-year-old son and my team are working remotely across England, New York, Nashville and Toronto. My working hours are rather long at the moment, sometimes spanning 7am to midnight, as I have been involved in crisis management for our partners during this time and also ensuring that our platforms support Covid-19 response as needed. I spend a great deal of time video conferencing with contacts in all global regions to also work on aiding relief efforts.
Where I have been able to support, I have been moderating digital panels for various fashion initiatives as knowledge share is crucial for our work and I truly believe that the Sustainable Development Goals are our roadmap to recovery.
- What are the most rewarding things about what you do?
Working in sustainable development has an interesting two prong aspect for me. Before you can connect to provide the solutions, you must be exposed to the problems. The rewarding element is the continual innovators, change-makers and risk-takers that I get to be learn more. The solutions that span from water conservation to fighting hunger are remarkable. For me it is people’s drive and tenacity to not stop until issues are solved that I find gratifying and motivating.
- Who are some of the partners of the Conscious Fashion Campaign?
The Conscious Fashion Campaign welcomes partners including Messe Frankfurt’s Texpertise portfolio including Heimtextil, Neonyt and Texworld, Pure London, Who’s Next, Kingpins, Coterie and Project. Drapers Sustainable Fashion Conference joined forces with us this year as well as The Council of Fashion Designers of America.
- What are the achievements you are most proud of with the Conscious Fashion Campaign?
The Conscious Fashion Campaign is based on the strength of collaborations as an industry. Living true to Sustainable Development Goal #17: Partnerships for the Goals we are pleased to align with partners across UK, USA, Germany, France, The Netherlands and China with more to come.
The dedication from the various sectors of the fashion industry to support the Conscious Fashion Campaign and drive awareness as well as a call to action for the Sustainable Development Goals has been astonishing. I am proud how we are shifting the needle together to a fairer future for all.
- Which changes you would like to see in the next two years?
In the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic I hope that we never forget the essential workers in our society, the unsung heroes who are not traditionally valued. I hope that we now truly also rethink purchasing habits and for those in lockdown become more aware of what is needed compared to mass consumption behaviours. I would like to see the industry place more value and protection on garment workers, the supply chain in general and rethink the systems that also feed into mass production and consumption.
- How do you see the future of sustainability shaping in the next 5 years?
It is difficult to say what will come of sustainability due to so much focus being switched to Covid-19 response efforts at this much needed time. However, we cannot forget the efforts of sustainable development done to date and must collaborate and aim for collective action. Covid-19 has exposed our fragile systems and society that are not working and do not protect us when needed the most. I hope that this provides an important place for sustainability to remain in all conversations including policy.
- Would you be able to give our readers some advice on how they can do more to support the Sustainable Development Goals in their daily life?
The Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. People can view the goals and select those that matter to them and are realistic to implement into their lifestyle, community and/or work. Although there are 17 goals, if we all chose one to support it would make a collective difference. Incremental change from each of us creates transformational change for all of us.
We've loved catching up with Kerry, getting her insight into all things sustainability and learning more about her experiences in the industry!
Aequem is the first e-commerce platform to align with the Sustainable Development Goals and you can see to which goals each product contributes to in the product descriptions!
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As always, stay safe.
Aequem Team xo