WORLD WITHOUT BORDERS

What was your inspiration for launching Fashion Designers without Borders?

Last year, I launched The Supply Change, which connects big brands with developing-world social enterprises and artisan groups in an effort to redefine the fashion supply chain. Creating brand-social enterprise partnerships is challenging; it’s not enough to just establish a relationship. You need employees in the company vested in the concept and advocating for it, too. 

Creating brand-social enterprise partnerships is challenging; it’s not enough to just establish a relationship.

I decided to partner with Elizabeth Gordon, co-founder of Extraordinary Journeys, a safari company that combines luxury and very unique experiences, to bring established design professionals to the source of the inspiring work being done by these organizations.

Fashion Designers Without Borders combines my love of fashion, adventure, and philanthropy. We are curating experiences and enlisting like-minded design colleagues in order to help them realize the potential of sourcing in developing countries.

We want to create ambassadors who can influence change within their companies through word-of-mouth experiences.

I believe change comes from within a company, and currently there is a disconnect between people in the design industry and social enterprises or artisan groups abroad. If design professionals can connect with great organizations, meet the artisans, witness the social impact, and be inspired by the local resources, they are more likely to return to their companies with enthusiasm and the knowledge to advocate for a brand-social enterprise collaboration. 

We want to create ambassadors—ambassadors who can influence change within their companies and raise awareness and action through real stories and word-of-mouth experiences.

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Fashion Designers Without Borders, The Supply Change, Extraordinary Journeys, Elizabeth Gordon, Chrissie Lam, Kenya, Peru, Andean Collection, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, eco-fashion designers, green designers, sustainable designers

FASHIONING CHANGE

What is the project’s mission and how does it relate to ethical fashion?

The goal is to create closer relationships between people in the design industry and artisan groups through inspirational, immersive sourcing safaris, which will hopefully foster more fashion brand-social enterprise product collaborations. Established design professionals can lend their expertise to social enterprises abroad while learning skills and techniques from the artisans. There is something to be learned and shared between all parties.

The goal is to create closer relationships between people in the design industry and artisan groups.

We’ll also offer tailored trips for brands that are looking to source for specific ideas and products. In addition, we can place designers looking for “voluntourism” opportunities with social enterprises abroad.

How do you see the relationship between high-end designers and artisan groups evolving?

The exposure and experiences these designers will receive on our sourcing safaris will help them connect, educate, and share best practices, making collaborations easier and more prevalent, which will in turn improve the fashion industry supply chain and help to lift the bottom billion out of poverty.

Change the fashion industry, change the world.

Change the fashion industry, change the world.

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Fashion Designers Without Borders, The Supply Change, Extraordinary Journeys, Elizabeth Gordon, Chrissie Lam, Kenya, Peru, Andean Collection, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, eco-fashion designers, green designers, sustainable designers

KENYA OR BUST

Why did you choose Kenya for your inaugural trip?

Kenya was the obvious first choice for us. I’ve spent some time in East Africa over the past few years and have established contacts there. My partner, Elizabeth Gordon, was born in Kenya and has a fabulous network on the ground. 

This is not a ‘tourist’ rip. We’ll be going off the beaten path and taking a real inside look at Kenya.

This is not a ‘tourist’ trip. We’ll be going off the beaten path: visiting the Kibera slums; having dinners with local leaders, designers, and entrepreneurs; and giving participants a real inside look at Kenya. Kenya is going through a renaissance period of its own right now and the creative energy and innovation there are off the hook. Elizabeth and I want others to experience it firsthand. Excitement is contagious, you know.

What other locations are on the radar for future trips?

A Guatemala trip is planned for Easter week of 2013. Designers on that trip will visit different villages, artisan groups, and markets, and they will have the opportunity to learn natural dyeing techniques and weave textiles on hand looms. 

Every country is different, with different strengths and challenges.

Every country is different, with different strengths and challenges. Our hope is that brands and designers can find inspiration in any country and begin long-term partnership collaborations. After determining the success of these trips, we would love to roll out this concept to other regions in Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and Central and South America.

Any thoughts on hosting similar trips for international designers to visit production sites in the United States?

I would love to plan a future trip for international and domestic designers to visit inspirational artisans right here in America. A “Made in the U.S.A.” sourcing road trip…the wheels are spinning in my head right now!

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