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New Fashion Initiative ‘Racing Against the Clock’ to Fight Climate Change

A new initiative is framing itself as a “turnkey solution” for the fashion industry to accelerate women’s empowerment and climate action in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Fashion Makes Change, a Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors project, said Tuesday that it wants to serve as a “transformational ecosystem” that builds community among brands, nonprofits and consumers, supports the “diverse women” who work within the apparel supply chain, and “responsibly drive action” on key social and environmental impacts.

“The truth is that the old way of doing things is not solving the problems,” Cara Smyth, chair of Fashion Makes Change, said in a statement. Incremental change isn’t good enough. “We are moving too slowly.”

As part of its work, the initiative says it will home in on targets aligned with SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). One of the main organizations Fashion Makes Change will support is the Empower@Work Collaborative—a joint effort of the United Nations’ ILO-IFC Better Work, BSR’s HERproject, CARE International, and Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E program, that provides education, advocacy and skills-building training for women in the global supply chain.

“Education is the great equalizer. In particular, investing in women builds resilient communities,” Smyth said. “Catalytic ecosystems that foster profound collaboration are powering the next generation of sustainability and are the only sensible path forward. We have a finite number of days before irreversible global warming. Fashion—and the world—are racing against the clock.”

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Though it has provided few details about a blueprint—and its precise remit remains vague—Fashion Makes Change says it will trigger its first “activation” on March 8, International Women’s Day, with a program that welcomes consumers to make donations via a global network of brands and retailers. All funds collected will be disbursed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors for “educating and empowering” women through Empower@Work.

This “unprecedented collaboration” among brands, customers and nonprofits, Smythe said, will “amplify, scale and accelerate a global shift towards meaningful change.”

Fashion Makes Change, which has the backing of Avery Dennison, PR Consulting and the Accessories Council, is also a member of The Fashion Conveners, a coalition of multi-stakeholder organizations that wants to pool together shared knowledge, skills, data, research and networks to “accelerate the transformational change” necessary to reduce the fashion supply chain’s myriad social and environmental impacts.