Kerry Bannigan is on a mission to scale sustainability. In 2018, she founded the Conscious Fashion Campaign to accelerate the United Nations’ then-newly introduced Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The 17 SDGs address issues such as climate change, pollution, gender discrimination, poverty and hunger—and Bannigan’s venture helps show companies exactly how to incorporate them into their existing framework to turn their business into a force for good.
Though initially launched as a year-long pilot, the Conscious Fashion Campaign showed immediate success and became a permanent institution, garnering initial support from hundreds of fashion industry heavyweights including Gap, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.
The UN-backed initiative and its partners now collectively represent over $4.7 billion in revenue and 14,700 employees, with Bannigan at the center. Earlier this year, it launched the second phase of its project in the form of an online platform called Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network. A collaboration with the Division for Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DSDG/DESA) and the UN Office for Partnerships, the platform brings together industry stakeholders, governments and NGOs to showcase actions and further advance SDG adoption. The network’s initial main points of focus were the climate crisis and post-pandemic recovery.
Bannigan is also the president of the board at social impact organization PVBLIC Foundation, where she provides strategic advisory for programs like It’s On US, launched by Barack Obama and Joe Biden; G8 Young Summit; SDG Media Summit and Michelle Obama’s Drink Up Campaign.
What is the biggest misconception that consumers have about sustainable denim?
That sustainable denim cannot achieve the quality consumers are used to. However, this is not the case with the materials used and options available.
What can the denim industry do to ensure a positive post-pandemic rebound?
Collaborate. Partnerships are critical to ensure a resilient and inclusive sector.
Skinny jeans: Over or a new staple?
Over. Bring back boot-cut!
How can denim retail improve?
Normalize repair and recycling for customers in-store and/or online. Place communication about the conscious practices of the brand at the core of the retail experience to educate consumers further.
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Which jeans do you wear the most, and why?
I am actually wearing more denim dresses and I’m a huge fan of Tencel lyocell dresses for environmentally friendly benefits