Celine Semaan, the CEO and designer at the sustainable fashion and accessories brand Slow Factory, realizes that running her own fashion brand is, in and of itself, an unsustainable exercise.
“Not eating, not dressing, doing nothing — those are all the most sustainable options,” said Semaan. “Our job is to give people better options.”
During New York Fashion Week, Semaan hosted an event about sustainability, technology and human rights in the fashion industry because, as she put it, she wants to do her part to mobilize the industry to taking steps, no matter how small, toward becoming more sustainable. She also planned to watch out for meaningful messages around change during the runway shows, now that being considered an activist brand is considered cool.
“When I first entered the fashion industry, I felt like an outsider. It seemed like the industry was avoiding anything political, a stand to take, anything too ‘activist-y.’ What I was doing was quote-unquote edgy. Being considered an activist for any cause had such a bad connotation,” said Semaan. “Now, brands are running campaigns around where their clothes are made, and customers are asking for more accountability from brands.”
Even when the resulting brand reaction to that customer demand isn’t fully sincere or thorough in its efforts toward sustainability, Semaan said that’s progress. A trend gives way to action. Semaan spoke to how the customer-brand dynamic is changing, what she expects to see during NYFW and how even fast-fashion companies are making headway, during an episode of the Glossy Podcast’s New York Fashion Week series.