In 2013, Rachel Kibbe launched Helpsy, an online ethical fashion store, on the belief that fair trade fashion is "beautiful, exciting, and design-forward." Now Kibbe is taking the sustainable fashion conversation to social media, using the hashtag #ItsNotJustStella to bring awareness to other independent brands that are making conscious decisions about how their pieces are made. I predict that the fashion world is about to get more interesting and informed about the production of clothes.
Her campaign launched on the same day Business of Fashion launched a new website, which includes a new platform called BoF Voices. The platform is intended to provide a community where members can discuss "issues facing fashion now," including "sustainability, the human cost of our supply chains, the dearth of women leaders, the preservation of craftsmanship, and untapped business opportunities in technology, Africa, and the plus-size market." The first problem discussed was sustainability, and the publication published an in-depth case study on Stella McCartney, whose brand is focused on sustainable fashion.
While Kibbe praises BoF and McCartney for their work toward a more informed fashion industry, she presents an 8th issue with her campaign: "the elitism which lead to so many other ethical fashion business owners and activists dedicated to this cause to be completely missing from the front-lines of their coverage," stated in her latest blog post.
In an interview, Kibbe told me that although she loves McCartney and the purpose behind BoF Voices, she was "disappointed because I feel like they are having the same conversation that has been happening for the last 10 years [...] I think that any effort is a great effort, but I think that they can do more."
Kibbe explained to me that the demographic BoF and Stella McCartney reaches is very small, because the majority of people cannot afford her designs. She wants to raise awareness for smaller businesses, like hers, that have made it "their business of fashion" to address the same issues at much more accessible cost, hopefully making it more of an issue for everyone, not just the small percentage of consumers who can afford to shop the runway. Kibbe is encouraging lesser-known brands who may not have the funds for a massive marketing campaign to post what they're doing to contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry with the #ItsNotJustStella hashtag. After all, the more voices added to a conversation, the stronger the desire for change will be.
"I just hope its thought provoking," Kibbe told me, "and that it catches on."