Summer Rayne Oakes talks to CNN on her work


Watch Summer Rayne Oakes on CNN's Young People Who Rock live video here.

Oakes fills the viewers in on some of her current ventures, including The Ethical Fashion Show, the youth climate change movement, Power Shift 07, and the Be Carbon Neutral Campaign.

Summer Rayne Oakes for the Be Carbon Neutral Campaign
shot by Steve Brickles.

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Stay tuned for the fourth edition of the Ethical Fashion Show® Paris, the seminal event in the world of ethical and eco-fashion. October 11th-14th 2007.

Ethical Fashion Show® Paris will showcase over seventy designers from all five continents that present fashion which is respectful of man and the environment. Among new countries featured this year: Australia, Afghanistan, Austria and Laos.

This year again, the event will renew the recipe which made the previous years a resounding success : showrooms, animations, catwalk shows, as well as conferences focusing on different topics related to social and environmental responsibility for companies operating in the textile industry.

Ethical Fashion Show® Paris is originally aimed at professionals and media, but the organizers plan to make the event open to the general public on one of the days (Sunday 14th).

Ethical Fashion Show® Paris will take place at the Tapis Rouge, one of Paris' prestigious fashion locations. The original Parisian department store was built in 1784, and is in the heart of Paris, close to the train stations Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord.

For more information and to reserve your PASS:

Le Tapis Rouge 67 rue du faubourg Saint Martin, 75010 Paris. FRANCE Metro : Gare de l'Est / RER : Gare du Nord / Bus : n°38, 39 et 47

Ethical Fashion Show images by Laure Maud

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For the August edition of Grist Magazine, Summer Rayne Oakes highlights the eco-fashion shows cropping up across the globe. Check to see if one is near you. Continue reading.

See also Grist's List of 15 Fashionistas

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HEyOkA Magazine interview with Summer Rayne:

John LeKay: Can you please tell me about your interest in Native American culture and how this came about?

Summer Rayne Oakes: When I was about 9 years old, my best friend, Anna and I would take off to the woods behind my house, pretend that we were lost, and "live" off the land. We started tracing back our family history and I found out that I had Cherokee on my mother's side. Anna introduced me to an old book on American Indian medicinal plants and within a few days, I became so engrossed in the cultures.

My early artwork was inspired by the striking portraits of Edward S. Curtis. Over the course of a few years, I probably had purchased 50 or 60 books on American Indian culture. When I went to college, I took some amazing classes with what some may call a "radical" professor. Then in 2004, I worked on a project mapping invasive species throughout the Akwesasne Reservation and river delta.

I haven't worked on specific programs since then, but I’d love to revisit some more indigenous issues as my work matures.

JL: What do you believe is one of the most serious environmental issues we face today in the US and what do you believe we can do to solve this problem?

Summer Rayne Oakes: I'd be quick to say "global warming," but I really think its human engagement, which is the foundation for change. What is the inflection point when awareness turns into hardcore action? There are a number of psychological and personal challenges that need to be overcome to reach that point. Open your mind. Consider other tactics, viewpoints, lifestyles, and personal struggles; that’s a start in influencing change.

JL: What are your thoughts on alternative energies?

Summer Rayne Oakes: I'm becoming more and more vocal in this area as my work unfolds. I've written letters to my state Senators urging them to stop the $50 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear energy and voiced my concerns on coal. We need individuals, communities and the federal government behind clean renewables. The amount of subsidies and loan guarantees still supporting dirty energy is absolutely mind-boggling!

On the clean energy front, I like to put most of own energies into positive movements. Over the last few months, I've been working with a number of young leaders on PowerShift 2007, which is the first national youth Climate Summit headed by Energy Action and the Campus Climate Challenge. The organizations have really been the backbone of much of the climate change actions, like Step it Up, Focus the Nation, and the President’s Climate Commitment. I feel invigorated when the youth take the lead in getting their campuses and communities to start taking progressive steps in reducing their carbon footprint.

Read more of the interview here..

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Summer Rayne Oakes talks with Treehugger's Jacob Gordon on sustainable fashion, jewelry, and personal care products - for men and women. Tune in to Josh Dorfman's sustainable furniture podcast as well as Gregory Kiss' architecture segment.

Watch the Fashion Industry segment here.

Watch the Personal Care Product segment here.

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Sustainability & Fashion on Sierra Club Radio


Sierra Club Radio interviews Summer Rayne Oakes on sustainability in the fashion industry.

Other fascinating interviews include:

  • New Yorker staff writer, Elizabeth Kolbert, on the mysterious disappearance of bees
  • Jennifer Hattam on remodeling green, part II
  • Melissa Damaschke shares an activist update from the heart of car country: Detroit, Michigan
Download to listen the radio interview here.

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Cosmopolitan Magazine highlights the Fun, Fearless Females of 2007. Summer Rayne Oakes, Michelle Wie, Laura Bell Bundy, Ashlee Margolis, Marissa Mayer, and Jennifer & Fiona Lees round out the list. [click on images to enlarge]

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Summer Rayne Oakes: Upcoming Talks, Keynotes, Presentations


Mark your calendars for upcoming talks, keynotes and presentations by Summer Rayne Oakes. For current and past events, please check back here.

September 19 , 2007 "Idenitifying the Conscious Consumer: Cultivating the Beauty Market from the Inside Out" Jacob K. Javits Center, New York, NY
Summer Rayne Oakes will speak on the gaps in the environmentally-friendly beauty industry and her perspective as an end-user of the products. Other panelists include, Jurlique, Natural Marketing Institute and Organic Works Marketing. For event information, visit the site here.

HBA Global Expo and Educational Conference, Jacob Javits Convention Center, 655 W 34th Street, NY, NY. Time: 9:00AM - 10:30AM

September 29 , 2007 "We Can Kick Climate Change, One Step at a Time" Santa Cruz, CA
Summer Rayne Oakes will keynote at the Race Against Global Warming event with a lively call-to-action discussing carbon neutrality and the steps we need to take as individuals and as communities to help prevent global climate change.

Santa Cruz, CA. For more information, visit:

October 5-7, 2007 "Seattle Fashion Week" Seattle, Washington.
Join in on the first ever green fashion week in Seattle.

Seattle, WA. Tune in for more information.

October 11-14, 2007 "Ethical Fashion Show" Paris, France.
Join in on the fourth annual EFS event.

Paris, France. For more information visit

October 19-22, 2007 "PowerShift 2007" Washington, D.C.
Join 3,000-5,000 young leaders working to fight climate change on October 19-22, 2007. Youth from across the country will convene in Washington, DC for a series of discussions, training workshops, panels and lobbying sessions. Power Shift '07 will make history and the youth climate movement will take center stage.

Washington, D.C. For more information, visit: PowerShift2007

November 14 , 2007 "Eco-Fashion NOW" New York, NY
Sustainable fashion is no longer a niche market concern. Beyond the current trend for organic materials, consumers are becoming more aware of the apparel industry’s impact on the environment as media coverage on global warming increases. From consumer lifestyle shifts to fair trade practices, panelists will define and discuss the complex issues surrounding eco-fashion, or green fashion. Join Summer Rayne Oakes, model-activit; Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director of Barneys New York; Susan Cianciolo, artist and designer; Johanna Hofring, entrepreneur (owner of Ekovaruhuset) and designer; and Sass Brown, assistant professor of Fashion Design at FIT and fair-trade fashion consultant

New York, NY. Fashion Institute of Technology. Katie Murphy Amphitheatre - 5:30 - 8:30PM. Part of FIT's Fashion Culture Series and Special Education Programs

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Caroline Ryder of Metromix LA offers up some words on eco-fashion. Visit the link here.

Oakes wears a fair trade hat by Pacachuti; vintage shirt by Alexander McQueen; organic cotton/hemp high-waisted pants by Deborah Lindquist

Unless you’ve been hiding under a very dark and unsustainable rock, you already know that green is the new black.

ELLE and Vanity Fair ran their first ever green issues this year, and style blogs couldn’t get enough of bamboo fibers, 100% organic cottons, eco-knitting and shirts made from seaweed, wood pulp and spun milk. The big brands were right there with them; New Balance made vegan sneakers, H&M and Gap launched eco-lines and denim companies from Levi’s to Seven for All Mankind couldn’t get their earth-friendly jean collections out quick enough.

Fashion’s so ecologically-correct these days, sometimes it’s hard telling the recycled wood from the fast-growing trees! Hopefully our breakdown will shine some solar powered light on things and help you learn what to watch out for.

So who’s really committed to sustainability?
While some companies are dedicated to conserving our resources, others jumped on the green bandwagon solely for the good press. Wal-Mart has a new line of organic cotton socks and underwear; it’s certainly a step in a positive direction, but it doesn’t suddenly make them an environmentally-responsible company.

Eco-friendly vs. socially-responsible
Edun, the line designed by Bono’s wife Ali Hewson, is manufactured using right-on socially-sustainable principles, but only uses organic fabrics “when they can.”

It’s not easy being green
What makes a fabric green, anyway? Note that one organic cotton tee requires 257 gallons of water. Doesn’t sound too earth-friendly to us, which is whymany designers are now choosing bamboo jersey fabric over cotton. Then there’s the jargon: ”metro naturalist,” “luxury eco,” ”carbon footprint.” It’s enough to turn any aspiring eco-fashionista, well, green with dizziness.

“There is so much growth in green fashion right now, it feels like the dot-com boom all over again,” says Summer Rayne Oakes, a model and sustainability consultant based in New York City. Oakes is working on a “hip girls’ guide to sustainable style” for Penguin books (coming out Jan. 2008). Until then: “Look at your favorite brands, go to their websites and find out about their environmental policies,” she advises. “If they aren’t already trying to go green, then ask them why. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make.” Nike, long associated with unfair sweatshop practices, has become “one of the biggest leaders in the area of ethical, social and environmental change,” according to Oakes (“Of course,” she adds, “they are far from perfect.”).

The planet-preserving pioneers
Small, independent designers like Loomstate, and in the high fashion world, Linda Loudermilk pioneered the movement. In 2002, when most designers had no idea what ”eco-fashion” meant, Loudermilk was sending her models down the runway in dresses made entirely from sustainable fabrics. Her celebrity fans include Shalom Harlow, Jane Fonda (who recently appeared on Letterman wearing a stunning Loudermilk hemp pant/milk blouse ensemble) and Robert Downey Jr., who’s a fan of her wood pulp t-shirts. “The support of celebrities is very important in this arena,” says Loudermilk. “They often feel a deep need to share their passion with the public, and people listen. I am really grateful for that.”

Loudermilk believes that eco-fashion rating systems will help fashion consumers gain a better idea of which brands are really green, and which ones are only trying to make more green. She is launching her own luxury eco-certification; kind of like a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval for producers of luxury goods and apparel.

Discounts for good deeds?
We know that not everyone can afford to buy luxury eco—Stella McCartney’s organic canvas re-usable shopping bags cost $495 a piece, for instance. And are you ready to shell out $400 on a pair of designer green jeans? The good news is, as more and more eco-brands flood the market, prices are coming down. And there are plenty of affordable lines already out there, like Tom’s Shoes. They are not 100% eco, but are the definition of socially responsible. For each pair of Tom’s Shoes sold, a pair is donated to a child in need.

“First and foremost our mission is to help kids who don’t have shoes, period,” says Blake Mycoskie, founder of Tom’s Shoes. The company has given away 60,000 shoes to impoverished children this year alone, and will launch an organic shoe line for Spring 2008. Mycoskie does have one piece of advice for wannabe green fashion hounds: Look closely at the motives of designers who call themselves eco. “Do some research, that way you can get an idea of how a company is manufacturing, and where their heart is at,” he says. “Then make your decision from there.”

Words to live by in your new upgrading, updated, environmentally-conscious life…

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MediaPost puts ethical fashion center stage. Click here to visit the link.

ETHICAL FASHION IS MAKING BIG waves in Europe. The Ethical Fashion Show in Paris, to be held for the fourth time in October, showcases a growing number of labels and attracts crowds of eager buyers (more than 60 labels and 4,000 attendees last year). Major retailers like Marks & Spencer and the fashion cataloger La Redoute are actively expanding ethically sourced apparel lines.

In the U.K., sales of ethical clothing jumped 30%--to £43 million pounds or about $86 million in 2004, according to The Cooperative Bank's Ethical Consumerism Report. Moreover, social concerns spurred consumers to buy £340 million worth of secondhand clothing and to boycott traditional clothing to the tune of £296 million.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., ethical fashion would be more accurately described as an undercurrent.

The term "ethical fashion"--which encompasses but goes beyond the more familiar "eco" or "green" fashion catchphrases--is still not on the radar screen of most Americans. In addition to using eco-friendly or organic materials, ethical fashion denotes the end-product marketer's commitment to ensuring humane labor standards and fair-trade wages for garment workers. That means wages that afford workers "a relatively comfortable quality of life within the context of their local area," according to Fair Indigo, one of the pioneering U.S. brands.

"Europeans are definitely much more aware of these issues," says Summer Rayne Oakes, founder of SRO, a brand strategist and market research firm focusing on socio-environmental sustainability, green marketing and environmental communications.

International systems for certifying and labeling fair-trade agricultural products emerged in the '80s in Europe, but didn't begin to gain a foothold in the U.S. until the '90s, she notes. And cotton certified as fair trade has been available in Europe since 2005, when Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), the umbrella organization for labeling initiatives in more than 20 countries, established a certification/labeling process for that commodity.

In the agricultural arena, there has been substantial fair-trade progress here, as well as abroad. But fair trade in finished apparel has proved a more difficult nut to crack, even in Europe.

One big reason is that there is as yet no independent, industry-specific third-party certification/labeling process for fair-trade clothing. Whereas it's easy to monitor the distribution chain for commodities like coffee, which have a straightforward model based on market price, "apparel poses extremely convoluted supply-chain issues," points out Oakes.

TransFair USA
, the only independent fair-trade certifier in the U.S., has focused on food certification. Last year, the organization conducted a feasibility study on creating fair-trade garment standards and shared the research with FLO and its European counterparts. Hoped-for next steps include certification pilots in a few garment factories, according to Levi Strauss & Company's Jill Sothard, senior manager for community affairs, corporate citizenship and the Levi Strauss Foundation, which helped fund last year's study and continues to work with TransFair USA.

It's clear that developing such standards will take years. But with all signs pointing to fair-trade issues having increasing impact on apparel going forward, pioneering brands are finding lucrative niches, and mainstream players are beginning to take note.

Sizable companies dedicated to fair-trade apparel, such as People Tree and Gossypium, are more common in Europe. But U.S.-based companies such as Fair Indigo, American Apparel (which uses only U.S. labor), NoSweatApparel and TeamX are getting more and more media coverage for their commitments to "sweatshop-free" practices, and they are growing by leaps and bounds.

Generally, such companies--as well as nonprofits like Mercado Global and Lotus by League of Artisans--partner with artisan cooperatives in developing countries to produce fair-trade products, sell them online and through stores, and reinvest substantial revenue back into the partner communities.

Big traditional brands "are waking up to fair trade as an issue that's on the discussion table," reports Oakes. "They're beginning to realize that fashion can be a sustainable development tool that lifts people out of poverty. But fair trade isn't necessarily their first priority. They're focusing first on what their 'green strategies' will be."

U.S. Brands Join Nonprofit Still, seeds of ethical fashion are being planted. Many types of U.S.-based companies--including apparel brands Eddie Bauer, Eileen Fisher, Donna Karan, Levi Strauss, Lilly Pulitzer, Liz Claiborne, Nike, Reebok, Perry Ellis and Phillips-Van Heusen, and retailers Nordstrom, Sears and Wal-Mart--are members of Business for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit that provides companies with practical assistance in "demonstrating respect for ethical values, people, communities and the environment."

Levi Strauss is one example of a big brand spearheading ethical initiatives. The Levi Strauss Foundation provides grants to many U.S. and international organizations working to improve workers' quality of life, including Mercado Global. Ten U.S. Levi Strauss stores have just begun testing a line of fair-trade scarves produced by Mercado licensees in three Latin American countries, reports Sothard.

Levi Strauss also pioneered a supplier code of conduct that sets specific fair employment standards for its suppliers, and monitors these through factory assessors worldwide. Thousands of other companies have modeled their own supplier "terms of engagement" on this system.

Oakes lauds companies' individual efforts, but stresses that establishing formal fair-trade certification systems for apparel will take a lot of groundwork. "Before companies can transition from their normal modus operandi, they need to achieve transparency--meaning a real understanding of all of the people in the supply chain, or the 'chain of custody'," she says. "That's particularly difficult in large corporations."

The U.S. apparel industry is "trying to catch up" with Europe on fair trade, says Sothard, and "if TransFair USA can figure out how to establish certification standards, the impact will be huge."

[image above: Summer Rayne models Judith Condor-Vidal fair trade fashion at the Ethical Fashion Show]

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No Coal in Your Stocking


Images of old coal (culm) piles in Pennsylvania at Grassy Island Creek

Letter to Pennsylvania Senator, Robert P. Casey, Jr. in regards to the coal issue.

Don't be naughty.
Write your State Senator.

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The New York Times reported yesterday $50 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear energy expansion. On the same note, Vogue announces an expansion of their ad pages - 727 in total this September.

Let's get real.
Write your U.S. Senator.

inspired by Jesse Jenkins - please feel free to use this letter as a template to your Representative. Makes life a little easier - and more time to sift through Vogue's ad pages.

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  • From the frontlines: Tracking the latest news, updates, and projects of Summer Rayne Oakes

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