On Saturday I had the pleasure of being invited to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls fundraising gala in London. It was a fantastic evening, made all the more special by receiving the Orange Heart Award. I made a short speech after receiving the award from Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund, which I wanted to share with you here.
We will shortly be in 2018, which is the centenary of female suffrage in the United Kingdom. So 100 years have passed women first receiving the right to vote. However in many ways, we haven’t moved on. Exploitation and violence against women remain huge issues, in fact many rights women felt were already secured, are once again under threat.
London College of Fashion is essentially a women’s college – 85% of our students are female and I’m delighted to say many of them are politically engaged. Fashion is an industry dominated by females, with over three quarters of garment workers being women, and their exploitation remains one of the industry’s most significant challenges. So, when I first met Aldijana and heard about the work of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and Girls, I felt compelled to support her.
That first meeting was some three years ago, and I feel very proud to stand here today to receive the UN Trust Fund’s Orange Heart award. For me, this award reflects the growing partnership between London College of Fashion and the UN Trust Fund, something that we want to continue to build on over the coming years.
Images via Lightening Photography
We first worked together on the 2016 campaign where we designed the Orange Label, which could be used not only as a clothing label, but also by all sorts of companies all over the world to badge their products to show their commitment to raising awareness of violence against women and girls.
Alongside this we created Fashion Says No to Violence Against Women, a an international student competition to produce an art work using the colour orange and the Orange Label symbol. The many unique interpretations of the brief, and the use of creative practice to highlight this issue in such a forward thinking, collaborative way was fantastic to see.
Those student works became a striking display of voices from the next generation of the fashion industry, both men and women, who are committed to ending the global epidemic of violence against women and girls all over the world. We were then able to showcase the images on social media, to turn social channels orange on 25 November with Vogue and SHOWstudio turning orange for us too.
We saw orange images from India to Singapore, and Nigeria to Australia, as we worked internationally with other fashion education intuitions. What is inspiring is that those fashion education institutions continue to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. International collaboration is vital. To address such a serious issue we all must work together, to inspire each other and bring together our different expertise, to end it once and for all.
This year we chose to run the competition within LCF’s School of Media and Communication – a community of fashion image-makers – because we know that traditionally fashion media has been a culprit of a perpetuated stereotypical and over-sexualised portrayal of women. We want our students to turn a lens on their industry, and to be thoughtful and aware from the very start of their journey with us. We want to develop a new generation of practitioners who don’t just do things because this is how they have always been done, but who will challenge the industry where it falls short and who will change it from the inside out.
We hope you will join us once again in filling our social media channels with orange today, 25 November and for the next 16 days of activism. Sharing the Orange Label project globally will maximize its impact.
Despite the work of the suffragettes almost a century ago, many female rights, be it abortion rights or equality in the workplace, remain under threat.
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. We very are proud to work with the UN Trust Fund to utilize the power of fashion to continue to support and campaign for the rights of women and girls across the world.