After 12 years at VF Corp., Jeanine Ballone has exited the company as vice president of Innovation Next at PVH Corp.
Ballone has signed up with Fashion 4 Development which champions sustainability among apparel companies and brands. As managing director of F4D Solutions, she will help companies evaluate their production and supply chains, change their practices, provide information and other resources.
Just back from speaking about sustainability at last week’s United Nations Web Summit in Geneva, Ballone said F4D is also looking into speaking at the Global Fashion Agenda and next year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In an interview with F4D founder Evie Evangelou Tuesday, Ballone said she feels her efforts will be more effective working with numerous companies as opposed to being based in-house at one. She first connected with Evangelou about five or six years ago. That’s also around the time she started the Zero to Hero Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls around the world.
Ballone said sustainability shouldn’t boil down to just wearing recycled clothes, but “there is a need to create new products with interesting resources and technology to redefine the category. With the ‘take-wear-dump’ formula, there is only so much we can dump, right? We have to change to save the oceans, reduce the use of plastics. There is just so much that we can talk about [with this problem.] You can’t just say it’s the gas and oil guys — we’re worse,” Ballone said.
Evangelou agreed, “There is so much that needs to be done that it needs to be voiced constantly. You have to stay on top of them all the time. Otherwise, it’s not going to change. What we want to do is say, ‘Let us help you make the change.'”
While some activists encourage consumers to stop buying things, Ballone believes a better course of action is to have companies control their own destinies by making better solutions. “People actually have to get into action. It’s not just a nice thing to say on Instagram or wherever that it’s a cool thing to do. It’s kind of like getting out the vote. People have to get committed to change within their companies. Sometimes it starts with the grassroots effort internally. When the employees start to want to change, then they start pushing back as well. When it’s just one or two people, you’re not going to make a dent,” she said. “And it’s not just shouting at them. That’s not the answer — shouting and finger pointing. Offering them solutions and workability, and saying, ‘OK, it’s not the best solution but it’s a better solution. So let’s just start moving you in the right process.”