Speech: UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women Gala

Last night I spoke at the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women’s 20th Anniversary Gala in New York – a completely inspiring event. I spoke about our Orange Label Project and the power of fashion to inspire change.

At the London College of Fashion we believe passionately that fashion is so much more than the clothes we wear. It can be used as a force for real change. As part of this belief, we aim to use fashion to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. This global pandemic needs to be challenged. The fashion industry must be stronger in addressing violence against women. We need to use the power of fashion to inspire change.

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London College of Fashion, a college that is part of University of Arts London, is thrilled to be working with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and Girls. As a college we are working with the UN on multiple fronts, helping them to promote wellbeing, equality and safety globally. From innovative responses to the needs of women and children in the Za’atari refugee camp, to building social responsibility and sustainability into our teaching, learning and research. We stand beside the UN and their mission. It is synonymous with our own, what we call our Better Lives agenda.

The Orange Label project is titled Fashion Says No to Violence Against Women and it is a collaboration between London College of Fashion, the UN Trust Fund and SHOWstudio. The striking logo for the project has been designed by students from London College of Communication. They are with us tonight. I would like to personally thank them all.

The project is in two parts; the first is a student competition to create a work using the colour orange. This wasn’t only for fashion designers, but also stylists, journalists, film-makers, illustrators and make-up artists. It wasn’t just for our students either; as chair of the International Foundation for Fashion and Technology Institutes, I was able to spread the word to its 54 members and make this a truly global project.

We were delighted to have had over 150 entries, many were group collaborations some as large as 28, they came from all fashion’s disciplines, and from students at different levels of study. We had entries from across the globe- from Nigeria, Turkey, Singapore, Australia, and the UK and from here in the USA.

The second part is that we are asking everyone to draw attention to the project with a social media takeover day on 25th November. We ask everyone to upload an image of themselves with the colour orange. The idea is to celebrate 20 years of inspiring work by the UNTrust Fund.

This is our chance to turn a lens, a mirror, on our own industry. To change it from the inside out, to show students and graduates at this crucial point in their studies that they can use their creativity and passion to challenge stereotypes and create positive messages about equality.

At London College of Fashion we have 85% female students. If we work with them at this vital stage before graduation and make them aware of this problem they will have the power to make lasting change to so many people’s lives.

It’s not just about the women, it’s about men too – so sharing the project globally will maximise its impact and I would like to ask you all to post an image of yourself wearing orange in just over a week’s time on 25th November.

I would now like to finish by showing a short film of students and staff at the college working on the Orange Label project.

Film to follow soon!

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