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Monday, 23 August 2010




With a résumé that includes model, television host, best-selling author, environmental activist, and social entrepreneur, Summer Rayne Oakes, the woman dubbed the first eco model, took a ‘time out’ amidst her demanding calendar of events to sit down and tell me about her present day ventures, aspirations for the future and some of the fashion items she is currently coveting.

EFW: Congratulations on your new venture, Source4Style ! This is a very exciting opportunity for the eco fashion world. Please share a little about the personal inspiration that went into the development of Source4Style.

Summer Rayne Oakes: The mission behind Source4Style is to make sustainable design possible. I realized that many designers, brands and retailers want to do the right thing, but oftentimes don’t know how to get there – not because of the lack of inspiration or vision, but because of lack of infrastructure and access.

Both my business partner, Benita Singh and I, felt the need to create something that would truly propel the design industry forward and we believe that’s Source4Style, which is the first B2B online marketplace that allows designers and retail sourcing specialists to search, compare and purchase more sustainable materials and services from a network of global suppliers.


EFW: What have been some challenges in the building and organizing of the business model for Source4Style?

SRO: We’re going through all the typical challenges that any start-up faces, including dysfunctional technology, long hours, and low pay. It took us a few months of market research to come up with a business model and truly understand the tools that designers and retailers need to source more effectively, but it’s seriously been good fun. Plus, I got to start this company with my best friend so it makes it that much more rewarding.

EFW: We are working closely with Myriam Laroche from Eco Fashion Week Vancouver and she shared with us that you will be collaborating. Can you tell us about your choice to work with EFWV and what you hope to share in your speaking engagement at the event?

SRO: Vancouver is a tremendous city – and it really embodies healthy, sustainable living. I love how everyone is in full support of Eco Fashion Week, including Gregor Robertson (Vancouver’s mayor), whom I haven’t seen since he took office, so it’ll be so lovely to connect with him and everyone else again. I also look forward to unveiling Source4Style and the work that the Eco Working Group has been doing on the Eco Index, to the Vancouver design community.


EFW: With your book Style, Naturally, you put great emphasis on the beauty of fashion and brilliantly intermingle the visual and fun aspects of fashion with important facts and terms related to ethical fashion. It’s almost like a fun dictionary. If you could choose to have one major effect or one major point to be cemented in reader’s minds after having read the book, what would it be?

SRO: Make sustainable living all your own. If we don’t feel as if it’s “ours” then we’ll never end up incorporating it into our daily lives.

EFW: Do you have plans to write additional books in the future? Are there any book-writing projects in the works at this time?

SRO: Style, Naturally was really a full year’s affair, so I probably won’t embark on another book for at least a couple years. Source4Style is my current focus.


EFW: Are there any other new ventures in the works that you can share with us?

SRO: As far as collections go, I’m on an eighth season of Zoe & Zac with Payless; a third season of bedding and bath with Portico Home; and a couple new collaborations in the works that are a bit too early to reveal.

This September ABOVE Magazine releases an amazing editorial we did adorned in the most unusual “attire” as an avant-garde PSA, so to speak, for a critically endangered environmental service.

I’ll also be working with Rainforest Action Network on Round 2 of the “Don’t Bag Indonesia’s Rainforest” Campaign.

EFW: What are a few of your favorite ethical designers/brands and why (i.e. an innovative technique they use in product construction, specific fabrication, a charity they are involved with, etc)?

SRO: I’m truly in love with the simple sophistication of John Patrick’s Organic label. And I guess I’ve been feeling a little romantic as of late because I’ve been wearing the lacey, whimsical, tea-stained creations of San Francisco-based label, Oda and have been eyeing the lovely lace dresses of UK-based Minna.

EFW: Summer festival season is approaching end in the next few weeks in most parts of the world; other than your collaboration with Eco Fashion Week Vancouver and the much-anticipated launch of Source4Style, what plans do you have for fall ethical fashion events?

SRO: We’ll be throwing a small, invite-only Source4Style launch party in New York and London, but we’ll also be doing micro-launches at The Rite Conference and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. I’ll definitely be hitting up the Spring 2011 GreenShows in New York too.

EFW: In relation to upcoming fall and winter, is there something you cannot wait to wear; a new designer or a new style?

SRO: I’m pretty psyched to get my winter jacket by Camilla Wellton. Quite honestly, so many of the Swedish designers like Wellton are kicking ass in my opinion. I mean, you also have Anja Hynynen, Camilla Norrback, Johanna Hofring from Ekovaruhuset (House of Organic), and the list goes on…

EFW: There are so many new ‘eco’ brands popping up every day. How do you choose what you personally wear?

SRO: I’m always on the look out for new designers, but I’m mainly just picking up vintage pieces here and there and keeping an edited closet. I like being able to revisit my clothes with fresh eyes and mix-and-match in ways that I may have not tried before.

EFW: You are undoubtedly super busy. How do you manage everything and what drives you on a daily basis? What inspires you?

SRO: I do what makes me come alive every day. If that isn’t inspiration to pop out of bed every morning, then I don’t know what is!

EFW: Aside from all of your current projects, what can we expect to see from you in the future as related to ethical fashion specifically and environmentalism in general?

SRO: I’d like to turn to another creative medium in the coming years and focus more on reforestation and sustainable development projects.

EFW: Thank you for your time, Summer! We look forward to the launch of Source4Style, our mutual collaboration with Eco Fashion Week Vancouver, and your ongoing success in all future projects.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 23 August 2010 )
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