Once again the circular rainbow pin appears on jackets and lapels in New York City as Climate Week — under heightened urgency — is in full swing.
The pin symbolizes the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs as they’re called). With guideposts on climate action, gender equality, racial equity, clean energy and others — the SDGs are a blueprint for doing good for people and the planet.
Climate Week runs formally from Sept. 20 to 26 in New York City (although there are many other international iterations) and it crosses paths with the United Nations General Assembly. Last year, Climate Week NYC held more than 500 events, leveraging digital formats.
The event is hosted annually by international nonprofit the Climate Group in conjunction with the U.N. General Assembly, and in partnership with the COP26 summit (the U.N.’s climate change summit) and the City of New York. With COP26 approaching in November, Climate Week speakers like COP26 president Alok Sharma anchor the event calendar.
As with other industries and governments, fashion is reaching to fulfill and expand its sustainability commitments this week.
The U.N. bubble is expanding to envelop industries like fashion and beauty, with star power in its wings as a swell of fashion and pop-culture moments collide. At a reception held at Soho House Monday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America celebrated the U.S. launch of the “Fashion Avengers” campaign touting the U.N. SDGs. CFDA chief executive officer Steven Kolb wore an upcycled jacket from label Everybody Wins.
“As a universal framework to our work, our membership and our professional and education communities, the CFDA has been a member of the U.N. Global Compact since 2019, and is committed to [spreading] awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to our constituents. As an organization, we are guided holistically by the goals and their importance to positive transformation within fashion, environmentally, socially, economically and culturally,” Kolb said at the reception.
To showcase this renewed synergy in fashion, a weeklong SDGs activation kicked off on New York’s Fifth Avenue in partnership with the Fifth Avenue Association, with 17 metallic pillars lining Fifth Avenue with information on each goal.
Even K-pop stars BTS — who returned to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday to advocate for future generations and vaccine safety — wore Swarovski crystal SDG pins atop their custom sustainable suits by Korean label Re;code.
Heavyweights like Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and more are sponsoring Climate Week this year. Despite being routinely blasted on plastic polluting reports as a top offender, even PepsiCo has a stake in the event.
With trade shows also in motion, the Javits Center played host to the Coterie Show as well as The Nest Summit (all things handmade), an official event partner of Climate Week NYC. The hybrid Nest Summit is in its third annual run at Javits. Just this week, Javits also celebrated the opening of its rooftop farm, adding another organic farming location to Brooklyn Grange’s impressive rooftop farming footprint.
That aside, there’s something for everyone at this year’s lineup, be it digital, hybrid or in-person events. Journalists can attend a digital session on covering climate justice solutions, while upcycling fanatics can attend Junk Kouture’s briefer on transforming waste into fashion at a reuse center (Materials for the Arts) in Long Island City. Even NFTs have their place in a virtual session.
As with the swell of traffic around the U.N. headquarters, Climate Week is all-encompassing. Passerby lunchtime crowds in Union Square may even unexpectedly brush in with Climate Week events, perhaps catching the food trucks offering free plant-based bites on Thursday.