Fashion for a Cause
In response to a pandemic that has taken lives, closed businesses, and fundamentally altered the daily life of billions, this semester our class pivoted our designs to directly support invaluable healthcare workers who risk their safety every day. Initially, we were disappointed that the event we had looked forward to, a fashion show in late April attended by Puma executives, would no longer take place. We were excited to see each other's designs, and get the opportunity to socialize with like-minded people at a fun event. Recently, though, we realized the new approach taken by our class will leave a far more substantial impact on the world, one that the original format would not have allowed. This sentiment is echoed by the philosophy of New York clothing brand Noah.
In a Vice article by David Shapiro, Brendon Babenzian, the former creative director of Supreme, created Noah under the idea “that the clothing you wear might not be crucial and, at worst, might distract from what really matters... Life is about being connected to the world around you, not just looking good.” This thoughtful mindset is apparent in the brand’s project in support of Billion Oyster Project, an environmental nonprofit aiming to restore one billion oysters in New York harbor, creating an estuary with cleaner water and greater biodiversity.
Because fashion has become one of the most resource-intensive and wasteful industries, Noah features recycled materials in cashmere sweaters and cotton t-shirts. It donates to numerous causes, researches how to make its packaging less wasteful, and ensures it works with suppliers who treat their workers fairly. Babenzian recognizes there are limits to how sustainable a fashion brand can really be, and is conflicted in his contribution to the problem. “Noah is a reaction to frenetic consumer behavior and the idea that you need to own so much stuff...When we consume in a certain way, we need to get smart about it. We need to do it better.”
Through this lens, the Fluidity Designs project makes a compelling case. The purchase of our products contributes to a good cause, an argument that cannot be made for many brands today.