Today the world has lost Franca Sozzani, Italian Vogue’s risk-taking editor-in-chief and one of ethical fashion’s staunchest advocates. She was 66. “The respect and care for the environment, sustainability, and fair trade nowadays are features that cannot be separated from the fashion world,” Sozzani, who was a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations–affiliated Fashion 4 Development initiative, once said. “Or at least, from those who wish to preserve also the ethic, and not just aesthetic, side of fashion.” For Sozzani, fashion was always more than “a piece of fabric.” She used fashion as a vehicle to champion causes such as poverty and gender equality, traveling through Africa and Asia to broker connections between the first world and the third. She believed in doling out work, not charity.

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“I do not believe that you can help anyone in the world without giving them an education, a salary, and work for their education,” she told her friend and collaborator Livia Firth in 2012. “Because when you have a salary, you feel like you are a human being who has been recognized by society.”

And help Sozzani did. She leveraged her influence with companies such as Pinko, which commissioned a Ethiopian factory to print and make 30,000 bags.


“Sustainability is not only about the ecological aspect. It’s about continuity and what we give back.”


“They said, Go around, make awareness,'” she told the Telegraph. “I said, ‘No, no, no, I want to work. I don’t need another honorific name.’ The point is what you do and what you leave behind.”

Being ethical, Sozzani said, is “about respect.”

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“Sustainability is not only about the ecological aspect,” she said in an interview with Kering. “It’s about continuity and what we give back.”

In a post on Vogue’s website, Jonathan Newhouse, Conde? Nast International’s chairman and CEO, praised Sozzani for being “by far the most talented, influential and important person” within the Conde? Nast International organization, even when she was courting controversy.

“She never stopped pushing contributors and the people around her to do more and better,” Newhouse wrote. “As a human being she was honest, funny, warm and possessed a sense of irony and humility … I loved and admired her, and I will miss her terribly. The fashion world is in mourning.”