Summer Rayne Oakes: Fashioning a More Sustainable World
Hippies and clothes-horses, beware! If you still believe sustainability can't be stylish, or style can't be sustainable, fashion model Summer Rayne Oakes has a message for you: "If you're a fashionista, you can't see beyond your Spring collection. If you're an environmentalist, you can't see past your own back yard." Such directness is typical of this 21-year-old graduate who's taken on the challenge of proving to the fashion and media worlds that the newest look doesn't have to involve environmental degradation or exploitative labor practices. In pursuing this mission, Oakes weaves the roles of student, educator, diplomat, entrepreneur and model into a unique professional identity: "Traditional ways of doing business need to be breached, and innovation needs to allow for bridge-building between corporations, non-profits, and governments. It is necessary to be 'multi-lingual,' metaphorically speaking, for spontaneous cooperation to occur.... That is where I see my role coming into play -- this 'multi-lingualist' that bridges the gap between stakeholder entities in order to create a 'spontaneous collaboration for sustainability' as it relates to the fashion & beauty industries."
"Multi-lingualist" may be a phrase that your computer's spell checker doesn't recognize (not yet, anyway), but Oakes has already established herself as a fluent translator of several professional "languages." She recently published a cover story in Yogi Times entitled "How Fashion Got Its Soul Back" in which she demonstrated her virtuosity both with a keyboard and the multiple disciplines underlying sustainability. She also writes a monthly column called "Behind the Label" for international fashion magazine Lucire. She created , a "conscious curriculum with style," that engages middle and high-school aged students with the concept of sustainability through fashion and popular culture. She's involved in , an effort to promote ecological knowledge and raise funds for the in
While just reading about her range of activities may bring on a spell of fatigue, Oakes has been a multi-tasker from a young age. Raised in rural northeastern
Despite her success at a young age, Oakess eclectic past keeps her philosophical about the direction of her unique calling. "Though I have clear ideas of my own, there is no telling where my current work will take me. I can say, however, that it has been one heck of a roller coaster ride thus far. When you are paving a new way for change, you hit a lot of bumpy roads, and it's never without a lot of ups and downs." So far, though, Oakes has demonstrated that bumpy roads can lead both to changed minds in established industries and more sustainable efforts to keep the world stylish. For the latest on Summer Rayne Oakes' projects, visit http://www.summerrayne.net/news.htm.
Guest Columnist -- Greener Magazine
Photograph by Storm Williams.