A crop of fashion and beauty companies are coupling star power with social change.
At Fairchild Media Group’s Wear House during SXSW, Nina Farran, founder and chief executive officer of Fashionkind; Nina Means, director of the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator and founder of Cadre innovation; and Deb Millard, president, healthy aging at Amyris and president of Stripes, sat down with Kaley Roshitsh, sustainability editor of WWD, to discuss how they’re leveraging megawatt names for social good.
Stripes, a brand under Millard’s purview, was cofounded by Naomi Watts as a result of her experiences with menopause.
“Naomi started going through menopausal changes right after she had her kids in her late 30s and felt incredibly alone. Equally important to her was that she came to a company that was passionate about the environment, passionate about ingredients, and passionate about doing better,” Millard said.
For Amyris, the mission is to take sustainably minded innovations to wide swaths of the market. “We’ve partnered with Naomi Watts and have launched a menopause brand called Stripes,” Millard said. “It’s [menopause] something that every single woman as long as they’re alive, is going to have to go through. In 2025, there’s going to be one billion of us in menopause, and the market is growing tremendously because it is a subject that’s been not really spoken about.”
Farran’s platform, Fashionkind — “We work with designers, artists and communities all over the world who are marrying two areas of luxury design and positive impact,” she explained — also looked to Hollywood to amplify her vision in partnership with Sophia Bush.
“Sophia as an actress, activist and now producer, you’re acutely aware of the impact that fashion has on your life,” Farran said. “The crossover between fashion and environmental and social issues… she felt adamant about wanting to use her position of privilege to be part of the changing dialogue, inside and out.”
In the case of the Austin Community College’s Fashion Incubator, Means aims to amplify designers’ visions to broaden the reach of their messages.
“We have to offer over $13 million of equipment, technology, hardware and software, that’s allowing [brands] to go to market much more efficiently,” she said.
One brand, Nico, founded by Nick Perez, “is in the couturier space crafting gowns and just a few weeks ago, his gown appeared on Miss Universe,” Means continued. “The caliber of talent that we’re cultivating to use our resources — these brands are developing businesses and hiring more people. We’re seeing the labor force and workforce growing as a result of their talent, and we have sustainable brands that are focused on upcycling denim.”
Community is at the center of Means’ efforts, as well as Farran’s. “When people think about impact or sustainability at a brand level, but even from an individual, it can feel very overwhelming,” she said. “Community is a big piece of how I hope to create impact. Yesterday, we hosted a cocktail hour bringing together community from impact investing and fashion publications to make sure we’re continuing this conversation, and not just involving the same people over and over again.”