Jeff Yokoyama: Surf dude turned Fashion Revolutionary

Jeff Yokoyama operates a small shop called the “Yokishop” in Newport beach, California. Jeff has been designing and selling clothing made from recycled materials for a long time. He has also in the past had several successful clothing companies including Maui & Sons and Pirate Surf.

Jeff has been expanding his efforts to create a supply chain for recycled clothing. Since 2009 he has had a partnership with the athletics department of USC (University of Southern California) and UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). Jeff initiated this in reaction to how he saw his daughter, who played volleyball in college, received new athletic clothing items every year which she would later throw out.


Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year. Jeff’s experience in the apparel sector made him reflect on how he treated people and what he truly valued, he states when speaking to the Surftorialist (2014): “The moment I knew I was out of it was when I came home and I had everything. I had the right bachelor pad, the right car, the right music, everything was right. The right clothes all lined up in the closet, the right suits, everything. And I then decided that all of this didn’t mean anything. I bawled my eyes out that night. I said ‘I don’t need any of this’”.

Shirt with recycled upside down Levi pocket from Yoki’s GARDEN LEVIS clothing line. There is an abundance of Levi’s in American landfills. He uses this clothing line to show that cool things can be made from old stuff.

Jeff made a transition from the “cool/hip” look (Maui & Sons, Pirate Surf) to a more specific niche of creating clothing from recycled materials. The motto for the Yokishop is: “Design different. Make different. Sell different”.

Now Jeff buys used athletic clothing by the pound from USC and pays a 15% royalty fee for every repurposed item of theirs he sells. He only pays $2 out of pocket to make a $200 sweater. Ethically it could be challenged that the price he sets for his clothing items makes his message is anything but anti-consumerist. However it can more accurately be said that his profit margin is necessary considering that he is an independent shop owner, who hires 5 people. His clothes are not all 100% recycled, he also gets newly manufactured t-shirts from a factory in California.


Jeff Yokoyama at work in the Yokishop. by: Michel Light

Jeff Yokoyama has a story which highlights the fundamental factors for personal change. Change in regards to turning words and deeds into concrete actions. He learned from his personal struggles, such as the bankruptcy of Maui & Sons. A more fulfilled life requires doing something that truly helps the world and others, so while he is not running an $18 million business as before, his work is more enriching. He is showing just how cool you can make old and used clothes.

Author: Siale Comissario, Master in International Business, class of 2015-16

Brazilian Fashion Revolutionary: Oskar Metsavaht and Osklen

Oskar Metsavaht founded Osklen in 1990, selling winter sportswear and after 10 years changed the brand’s focus to the luxury segment, today the brand is recognized as one of Brazil’s biggest luxury fashion brands. Oskar Metsavaht realized the importance of sustainable development and its applications since the Earth Summit twenty years ago in Rio, seeking to incorporate sustainability in different ways into his work at Osklen.

Osklen not only promotes the sustainability issues through its campaigns, such as a recent winter collection, called A21 which concerns the Agenda 21, a voluntary action plan of the United Nations. The brand also apply sustainable decisions on the production by using organic cotton and recycled material, for instance PET, used in fibers for shirts and Pirarucu fish skin used for bags and shoes. Other interesting point is that Osklen produce their clothes using mostly materials from Brazil, moreover the brand focuses the production inside Brazil, something that is good for the economy of the country.

Metsavaht also founded the Instituto-E, an OSCIP (Civil Society Organization of Public Interest), based in Brazil to foster sustainable human development, Oskar Metsavaht was named in 2012, by UNESCO, Goodwill Ambassador and moreover a formal representative of Rio + 20. Osklen, Instituto-E and the Ethical Fashion Initiative worked together developing products in Haiti, the first collection was called E-Ayiti, launched in 2014 and all production was made by Haitian artisans in partnership with Osklen designers using only recycled materials like electrical wiring and metal.

The work of Oskar Metsavaht and the impact that Osklen has brought to the fashion industry has a huge importance, the world needs more inspiring people like him to disseminate the importance of sustainability and responsibility in the fashion industry and spreading this example of sustainable development it helps to build a sustainable fashion industry.

Author: Pedro Gomes, Master in International and Sustainable Finance, class of 2015-16

Fashion Revolutionaries: Vivienne Westwood

I wanted to find out more about the infamous fashion revolutionary Vivienne Westwood, I was able to interview Félicie Pythoud, an intern designer at Vivienne Westwood. Félicie explains that she mainly modifies and copies pattern.

Concerning her thoughts about the current situation of the fashion system and if she experiences the negative impact of the system inside the company, she comments[1]:

“I think today more and more people are aware about how terrible the situation is but not that many are really trying to change something.”

She says that, as a young designer, you have to be “sustainability-oriented” to be trendy, but the main actors are not ready to look at this reality. Unfortunately, as soon as money comes into play, the rest loses its importance. Some people are also afraid, because going against the system could be dangerous for their image and their career. She thinks that it is a lost battle in a way. Westwood makes a point of being an eco-friendly company.

To the question how Vivienne Westwood treats the production process and supply chains, she answers:

“What I can say is that most of the Westwood products are made in Italy and in England. But certain details where specific manufacturing processes are required are produced abroad.”

When asked about what they are doing to improve the fashion system, and what is their main focus:

“the most important is the sustainability.” Most of the materials used in the office and production are recycled or reused. The VW packages are recycled. Furthermore, she points out that at the beginning of the Westwood, the pattern-cutters found easy patterns to place on the fabric in order to save material. That is the reason why one of the most famous Westwood piece is the “square t-shirt” simply made up of two fabric squares! “

When asked if Félicie feels empowered by the company to drive change in the fashion system, she replies:

“No, but I think Westwood has important influence on the fashion world but acts as if it wasn’t aware of it. Vivienne herself is very politically engaged, however it is more about climate change and protecting animals than changes in the fashion system.”

These changes are complex and require collaborative solutions to transform old ways of doing business. Even Vivienne Westwood who claims to be sustainable, seems not to be really committed to sustainability in the fashion system and its supply chain. The Guardian newspaper: “a more sustainable supply chain is needed, but will only emerge when the breakdown in trust between suppliers and buyers is resolved”.

Author: Ayrton Peron de Castro, Master in International and Sustainable Finance, class of 2015-16

[1] These are Felicie’s opinions and do not reflect those of the company she works for.



Fashion Revolutionary: Will Roberson

Will Roberson has taken action in a new Project named “The Shoe Program”. The premise of this sustainability project is to take second-hand, worn shoes and repair them in their entirety mixing old and new worlds together with the stroke of his pen.

His ingenious idea is to give birth to a new and resourceful product without any harm to the environment.

Not only is this environmentally friendly but also lends its creative beauty to the vintage aspect of fashion design and historical content.

Will uses only natural products and colors and if more people thought like him the mountains of rubbish throughout the world would be greatly decreased. His idea is akin to the famous Wasteland project by famous artist Vik Muniz and his attempts to recycle art and paintings through the discarded rubbish of the Jardim Gramacho landfill of Rio de Janeiro in 2011. It is worthwhile to note the paintings from this exhibition sold upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars per painting showing that sustainability does in face have market value in today’s world.

“The shoe program is an extension of my artistic expression”, said Will Roberson,  “Everything I see is art. In the 80’s I used to paint on clothes a lot. So the shoes I paint now have become my new canvas. These shoes are all high end brands like Prada, Furla, Loeffler Randall, Tod’s etc. They are brand new, they just have small defects like for instance the Pink Prada shoes had a black ink smudge on one of them. Normally those shoes would be tossed in the trash. I take them and turn them into one of a kind works of art as well as a fashion statement.”

The reason behind Will’s improvements are two fold. “Designer shoes are very nice to have but why spend 600 to thousands of dollars on a shoe that somebody else has? My shoe program customizes your designer shoes so nobody in the world has them. You will stand out from the crowd.”

“The message I am sending out to the world is to be yourself.  Be original, and look like no one else while making your contribution to improve this World”.

“I believe the Shoe Program creates less impact on the earth because instead of throwing away shoes with slight imperfections, I give them a new life. The result is less production. Less natural resources are used and less people are exploited at production.”

Roberson has also created an amazing, funny and energetic character named “Lucky”.

Image 3

I asked Will what is the main idea of Lucky, what does he have to bring to our World? Will emphasized, that Lucky has a mission, he brings luck and fun energy but also he is a symbol of nature and the struggles against pollution and violence around the World… he also said “I want people to look at him and smile. I want to send good energy out to the world with Lucky. I wish good luck to the entire world.”

Author: Olesia Ryzhakova, BSL student, Master in International and Sustainable Finance, 2015-16

Zara: It is time to detox!

The problem
Let’s talk about clothing. It is something essential, isn’t it? You could hate fashion and you would still need to buy and wear clothes. Who has not ever bought a piece of clothing from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Zara, H&M, Gap or Primark? Do you know that those clothes you have bought could contain toxic substances?

Indeed, yes, they might contain toxic substances. Substances that are thrown into the rivers close to the factories. The low prices that we usually pay for these clothes have an extra human cost paid by local citizens of the countries on where factories are settled. These chemicals are used to color clothes and have a huge impact on the environment and health through the whole supply chain. This happens because the chemicals are disposed into the rivers near the factories, but also when we buy and wash them, as the water used by the washing machine will drain polluted water to the environment.

The solution
Greenpeace was concerned with what it was happening with these chemicals and they launched a campaign called ‘Detox’ in 2011.

The first step was to do scientific research in order to be able to prove that they were right. They took small pieces of clothing from different brands from all over the world and analysed them in laboratories where they found out what different chemicals were inside these textiles.

Once they had the evidences, they started to put social pressure on the brands to join ‘Detox’.

If companies accepted to join the initiative to detox, several conditions had be fulfilled in order to become a detox leader:

  • They should have removed all the hazardous substances by 2020
  • Three fundamental principles should be followed:
    • Prevention and precaution: Taking precautionary action towards the elimination of dangerous chemicals.
    • Right to know: Total transparency between the brands and the consumers. Consumers have the right to know about the chemicals let off into their waterways.
    • Elimination: Eliminating those toxic substances and admitting that there are no environmentally safe levels for hazardous substances.

What happened with Zara?
Well, Zara was one of the first companies that Greenpeace started to attack. Why?

Zara belongs to the Inditex group, the biggest textile group in the world, and the usual strategy that Greenpeace adopts is to attack to the biggest prey, the one that can cause the biggest social impact. As soon as this prey is captured, the rest of the preys will tend to follow the biggest one. This is why Zara was the chosen as the first target of the campaign. Once Zara was convinced to join the Detox campaign, the rest of the brands were easier to convince.

How did they convince Zara to detox?
The only needed nine days of public pressure. Flash mobs, dressed in a very special way, made performances in front of the main boutiques of Zara all around the world. Social networks, bloggers and fashion lovers helped to increase public awareness about toxics in cloths.

Greenpeace also put a video clip on the topic in the social networks. This video imitates the style of a manga movie – a smart way to communicate to the young target group of Fast Fashion.


More brands involved in this campaign
After Zara accepted to detox, more brands started to join this campaign and others just did not want to follow this environmentally friendly change. This is why Greenpeace designed a special website in order to inform the consumer if the brands where they buy their clothes are detoxing or not.

Greenpeace distinguishes between three kinds of brands: detox leaders, green washers and detox losers. The first ones are the brands who are detoxing, the second ones are the brands that said they would detox but they are actually not doing anything and finally the third group is for the brands that have denied the propositions given by Greenpeace.

But, we can all be part of this, we can all chose to detox and buy clothes from the companies that take care of our environment and our health. It is also in our hands.


Author: Miguel González López M.I.B. Student

Fashion Revolution: Call to Action!

Since the Fashion Revolution Collaboratory on 7th October, we’ve been working away on different ideas. We’ve decided to kick-start the social media campaign next Friday 13th November. The aim of this is to:

  • Increase the number of followers of Fashion Revolution Suisse on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in order to get more critical mass for the big campaign next spring.
  • To increase our self-awareness and that of others when it comes to our clothing choices
  • To have fun!

What you have to do:

  • Take a selfie or a photo of an item of clothing
  • Post it on Twitter, Instagram or FB and use the following tags:
  • #fashfriday, #fashrev, #whomademyclothes and @Fash_Rev_Suisse for Instagram and @fash_RevSuisse for Twitter and @fashionrevolutionsuisse for Facebook
  • Comment on your photo – is it second hand, vintage, borrowed, upcycled. If you wear it a lot – #30wears  or comment on what it’s made from e.g. organic cotton, fair trade, wool, alpaca etc.

Feel free to encourage your friends to join in and let’s see if we can get Fashion Revolution Suisse around the world!

Fashion Revolution
Instagram: Fash_Rev_Suisse
Twitter @Fash_RevSuisse

Prof. Marina CurranAuthor: Marina Martin Curran PhD,
Professor at BSL

Fashion Revolution Collaboratory – Student Perspective

On October 7th, I had the pleasure of attending a collaboratory organized by BSL and Fashion Revolution Suisse. The conversation was led by Alke Boessiger from UNI Global Union, Angela Paulillo from Kering and Corinne Schmidt for the Green Party. Local fashion designers, students and leaders from Fashion Revolution Suisse were also present, which made for an enriching evening of conversations.

Fashion Revolution Collaboratory

The session began by recalling the Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh and the involvement of UNI Global Union in ensuring human rights and worker safety is respected. The Bangladesh Accord is a legally binding agreement signed by over 190 apparel companies around the world. Retailers commit to ensure safety in garment factories, proper work conditions and adequate salaries for workers. There are 1531 factories under the accord that need to be inspected and remediated. To date, 1288 factories have been inspected and the majority are still in progress with their remediation plan.
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