Protesters Showed Up At The CFDA Awards

Photo: Courtesy of RAN.
During yesterday’s CFDA Awards, a group of activists called Rainforest Action Network (RAN) staged a protest against Ralph Lauren. A large banner with Ralph Lauren’s logo superimposed on a saw blade read: “When Deforestation is Part of Your Lifestyle.” Held outside the entrance and on public space, the banner was one of the first things attendees saw when arriving at the event.
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Photo: Courtesy of RAN.
According to RAN, several protestors dressed up in formal wear and distributed balloons and business cards urging CFDA attendees to acknowledge their stance that Ralph Lauren “makes its clothes at the expense of forest destruction, human rights abuses, and climate pollution.” In particular, the group is asking Ralph Lauren to use only forest-friendly fabrics, which is anything not containing rayon, viscose, modal, or tencel, which are made from the tree pulp.

In 2014, H&M, Zara, and Stella McCartney agreed to attempt to replace viscose and rayon with alternative materials that don’t endanger ancient forests, and RAN is demanding that other brands follow suit. In the pursuit of this goal, the group targets a total of 15 fashion labels that comprise what it calls the “Fashion Fifteen,” including Prada, Tory Burch, Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Michael Kors.

So, why Ralph Lauren? While the label has won awards in the past, it wasn’t up for nomination this year. Michael Kors — also on RAN’s list of violators — was up for Womenswear Designer of the Year (he lost to Joseph Altuzarra). Ralph Lauren is the most high-profile of all the American fashion labels, and while the designer himself did not attend last night, many celebrities wore the label, including Zachary Quinto, Katie Holmes, and Joshua Jackson.

"As a one of the biggest names in global fashion, Ralph Lauren should be a leader in the industry," Emma Lierley from RAN told us. "An iconic brand, Ralph Lauren has hundreds of garments made from rayon, viscose, and other forest fabrics and it has the ability and resources to ensure that human rights abuses and forest destruction won't be a part of their next collection. The fact that [other] major brands are taking initial steps to look into their supply chains means that it's possible."

Representatives from the CFDA declined to comment on last night’s protest, and Ralph Lauren did not respond to a request for comments.
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