When EILEEN FISHER started following me on Twitter about a year ago, I had no idea that I would one day be co-producing a fashion show for them in New York City. Like many relationships we develop via social media, there is a courting process that over the course of time, enables us to see if in fact the new “friend” is one we want to forge forward with.
EILEEN FISHER, the brand and the people, were a good example of social media done right and of good, authentic storytellers that captured my attention.
This past weekend in Manhattan at Green Festival, my fashion show co-producer, Casey Jones, the Social Media Specialist for EILEEN FISHER and I worked to tell that story and of how women of varied ages and body types can make a sustainable, mainstream brand their own.
Working with 8 sustainable fashion influencers who put together their own outfits for the Green Festival fashion show, we let each woman pick from the company’s Ampersand collection where all clothes with an “&” reflect the company’s broader mission to protect planet, people, and preserve traditional crafts and cultures.
The base for the campaign? EILEEN FISHER wanted her clothes back.
Launching a Green Eileen store in Yonkers over a year ago and a second location on April 19th in Seattle, the company has taken a route less traveled by many large brands and taken their sustainability initiatives a step further, showcasing the lifecycle of their very own garments. Buy the clothes and when you’re done, bring them back and help make money to empower women?
A sweet deal for sure.
It’s true, one of the more interesting parts of this recycling equation is that 100% of all money made from the gently worn clothing goes towards women and girl’s grants and initiatives that the company has long supported.
And based on wearing an EILEEN FISHER badge all day at Green Festival and the amount of women that came up to me to tell me how wonderful the company has been supporting their various efforts, I was overwhelmed with positive stories.
The company is very smart.
In addition to showcasing a garment’s lifecycle through clever marketing, Twitter meet-ups, power washing over 100 stencils into the sidewalks in Seattle and Manhattan with “We’d Like Our Clothes Back Now #thxverymuch,” the apex of the campaign was the New York fashion show where social media and campaign came alive.
It is one thing to claim sustainability, but get 8 top sustainable fashion influencers behind you answering questions about manufacturing, and you have a potential media fiasco with where it might take you. I was impressed that the team at EILEEN FISHER allowed the questions I’d written to be discussed on stage and of course, all the while with a beautiful writer, designer or editor clad in EILEEN FISHER’S most ethical clothing, backing more than just a personalized look.
They were representing the company.
With headlines on this very day showing us yet another round of deaths from a garment factory in Bangladesh with a building completely collapsing and killing 80 (so far), one has to reflect on the state of the fashion industry and where consciousness comes in and how liable we are as humans who consume.
When I asked Luna Lee, EILEEN FISHER’S Human Rights Specialist about whether their company had ever been called out by the media or non-profit organizations for any violations related to labor and environment, Lee said the company tries its best to do due diligence and know their supply chain.
“There is always more to find out, and we are certainly not perfect. The key is to always ask thoughtful questions. We are in the process of planning a supply chain mapping project this year. Our intention is to know everything about our products; from the farm level to our store, and every single process and detail along the way.”
Campaigns like EILEEN FISHER’s Green Eileen, Ampersand and #thxverymuch campaigns are what this writer hopes is the tip of the iceberg, the invitation for other mainstream brands to really walk the talk, even if at a snail’s pace, and to do it with transparency and traceability.
Which moving forward, will 100% be the name of the game.
Want to join the Green Eileen team? To participate, if you have any EILEEN FISHER clothing you no longer wear but can’t seem to part with, visit any of EILEEN FISHER’s retail locations and you’ll receive a tax receipt and $5 in “Recycling Rewards” per item for a future purchase.
All photos by Dan Cutrona Photography