The thing about ethical fashion is… it’s collaborative. We, as individuals, can make better choices about the clothes we wear, but it’s only as a global community that we have the power to change the whole fashion industry.
Enter Jessica Kelly and Elena Baxter, two social entrepreneurs who are joining forces to bring ethical values to one of fashion’s biggest calendar events—New York Fashion Week. Elena is the Co-Founder of Conscious Magazine, a publication and a community that inspires change through creativity, and Who They Are, an online boutique and campaign platform that fights against exploitation and human trafficking. Jessica is the founder and CEO of THR3EFOLD, a platform that connects fashion brands with ethical factories the world over.
Both based in New York, the pair are close friends as well as collaborators. From the 5-8th of September, over New York Fashion Week, they’re transforming the Arlo Boutique Hotels in Soho and NoMad into ethical fashion pop up shops to showcase their favourite ethical brands. Included in the lineup are Good On You-rated favourites such as Article 22 and Outland Denim.
Every piece of Article 22 jewellery is locally handcrafted in Laos using recycled materials from Vietnam War bombs, plane parts, military hardware and other aluminum scraps. The brand embodies the innovation that the fashion industry needs more of – using recycled materials to produce beautiful globally-marketable products, while equipping locals artisans with new skill sets and providing them with a sustainable source of income.
Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. This Australian brand was founded as an avenue for the training and employment of women who have experienced sex trafficking. Find most of the brand's range in US sizes 22-34.
It’s a big occasion for both founders. Jessica’s platform THR3EFOLD is launching in beta on the first night, and it’s also the grand opening of Elena’s Who They Are Freedom e-commerce store! Most of us would be pretty stressed out at this stage, but for Jessica, her friendship with Elena is a source of strength.
“We met a few years back while Elena was still building Conscious Magazine, a mutual friend from Elena’s sister put us in touch,” Jessica says. “We became fast friends and Elena invited me to join the female founder group she was apart of which has been hugely helpful with the emotional rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship. Today Elena is one of my greatest friends.”
The pop-up is the perfect way to bring together their respective areas of work, and highlight the connections between the humans who make our clothes and the complex supply chains that bring them to our stores. On the first evening, the founders are hosting a panel discussion featuring eco-lifestyle pioneer Marci Zaroff.
“As Elena and I were gearing up for big launches for our businesses we decided to join forces since exploitation and human trafficking is so closely tied to fashion’s supply chain,” Jessica says.
This Ethical NYFW pop up seeks to highlight the brands working to create change for people and planet through fashion. People can expect to discover their new favourite brands and be surprised by what type of positive impact is possible through business.
Creating positive impact is what these friends are driven to do. Elena has recently returned from a trip to Cambodia, where she taught a course in entrepreneurship to survivors of exploitation and trafficking. Her Who They Are platform is evoloving, but is working towards ending modern slavery by, “telling stories of today’s heroes of the modern day movement to end slavery: survivors of exploitation, human trafficking and abolitionists.”
Jessica is a fashion industry veteran, having spent ten years working in PR, sales, and marketing for top brands in New York. For Jessica, it’s all about finding solutions for fashion brands that want to source ethically but don’t know how to begin. “The THR3EFOLD platform takes the time and guesswork out of finding and vetting a factory,” she says. “Only ethically certified factories are accepted onto the platform with clear profiles and key filters so they can easily be found based on a brand’s production needs.”
Together, these friends aim to counter the mindless consumerism of NYFW and provide an alternative space for people to learn and discover.
If you’re in NYC, check out the pop-up shops:
Arlo Soho September 5-7th for a first look, and also enjoy a Redken Style Blogger Lounge. Hours 10-7 (closing at 4:30 on 9/5)
Arlo NoMad September 8th for a more select group of brands in a salon style pop up. Hours 10-5.
If you are unable to get there in person, you can check out Who They Are and Thr3efold online, or follow #ethicalnyfw on Instagram.
feature image via Unsplash. All other images courtesy of Jessica Kelly and Elena Baxter. Good On You has big plans for ethical fashion in 2019! To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offers code or affiliate links.