In the corridors of climate activism, an additional voice is rising—one that speaks not just of environmental urgency but also of ethics, empowerment, and elegance. At the heart of this narrative is Yvonne Ndege, a renowned journalist with a passion for sustainability and a unique approach to advocacy—one that blends the art of conversation with the art of fashion.
As Yvonne takes stage at the Africa Climate Summit, her participation is not just about what she says; it’s also about what she wears. Her wardrobe choices are carefully curated, each outfit designed to tell a story, make a statement, and carry a powerful message about the fashion industry’s role in environmental and social change.
In this exclusive story for Couture Africa, we delve into Yvonne’s journey at the summit and unveil the incredible African designers and artisans she’ll be showcasing. It’s a conversation where style meets substance, where fashion becomes a catalyst for a greener, most just future. Join us as we explore the fashionable side of climate activism with Yvonne Ndege.
Why promote African sustainable fashion designers at the Africa Climate Summit?
The African fashion industry, like many others globally, is slowly but surely undergoing a remarkable transformation, guided by the principles of regenerative, just and green transition. This pivotal shift in the fashion landscape transcends style and trends; it’s a profound commitment to sustainability, social equity, and innovation. The intersection of fashion and environmental consciousness was pronounced and beautifully exemplified during the Africa Climate Summit by the collaborative efforts of JUST Fashion, REFACE (Regenerative Fashion Collaborative Exchange), and Yvonne Ndege.
JUST Fashion: A just and green actor in the Sustainable Style Movement
In 2023, JUST Fashion was born in Nairobi, Kenya, as an awareness-raising campaign and initiative aimed at supporting the country’s just and green transition within its fashion industry. The overall aim is to contribute to the just and green guidelines for a decarbonized fashion industry that is inclusive and fair. The initiative aims to ensure that the shift towards a low-carbon and environmentally sustainable fashion sector leaves no one behind.
Regenerative Fashion: Nurturing Nature Through Style
ReFaCE is a platform that supports stakeholders in the fashion value chain, from farmers to manufacturers, to mitigate the industry’s negative effects on climate change by investing in regenerative agriculture to create regenerative fibers, promote biodiversity, and foster ethical practices throughout the supply chain. ReFaCE is a call to action for the industry to be a force to restore and replenish our planet rather than depleting it.
Yvonne Ndege: A Stylish Advocate for a Greener Future
During the Africa Climate Summit, Yvonne embarked on a unique mission. She was not only there to interview heads of states, activists, and stakeholders, she was also there to use fashion as a powerful medium to communicate the fashion industry’s vital role in environmental and biodiversity protection.
The Fashionable Connection: JUST, Regenerative, and Sustainable
To advocate for a regenerative, just, and green fashion industry by promoting African designers who are already aligning with these principles was an innovative way to place this topic at the forefront of the summit’s discussions. When this idea was conceived by JUST Fashion and ReFaCE, a number of visionary designers were approached to support the project of integrating fashion into the continent’s most significant climate event. They all embraced it wholeheartedly.
African Designers Leading the Way
Deepa Dosaja, Kooroo, Kipépéo, and WildLife Works Apparel are among the brands that Yvonne proudly wore during her four days at the Africa Climate Summit. These designers exemplify the essence of sustainable and regenerative fashion. Their collections are crafted from natural, biodegradable fabrics such as organic linen, the finest silk, and sustainable cotton, demonstrating their commitment to eco-friendly materials.
But it doesn’t stop at materials; some of the pieces Yvonne showcased were handmade locally. This underscores not only the designers’ dedication to sustainability but also their support for local craftsmanship. These clothes are not just kind to the environment; they are also gentle on our skin, embodying a philosophy of fashion that doesn’t compromise comfort for conscience.
The Urgency of Sustainable Fashion
Globally, the fashion industry stands as the second most polluting sector after the fossil fuel industry, contributing to a staggering 2.1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually, amounting to 4% of the world’s total. Even more alarming is the fact that 87% of fabric ends up in landfills and 35% of ocean plastics, primarily in the global south. These statistics paint a grim picture of the fashion industry’s ecological footprint.
The Path Forward: Challenges and Opportunities
The journey toward a just, regenerative, and sustainable fashion industry in Kenya and across Africa is not without its challenges. It necessitates investments in green technologies, a shift in consumer behaviour toward sustainable choices, and the addressing of socio-economic disparities within the sector.
However, the opportunities are immense. The region’s rich heritage of craftsmanship and artisanal skills can be harnessed to produce unique, sustainable fashion products. The abundant natural resources provide a fertile ground for eco-friendly materials, and there’s a growing global demand for sustainable fashion.
African Fashion’s Promise
The Africa Climate Summit, with its focus on a just and green transition, provided the ideal stage for African fashion to shine. Yvonne Ndege’s advocacy through her fashion choices illuminated the path toward a more sustainable and regenerative future for the industry.
As the world grapples with the climate crisis, African fashion is stepping up to prove that industry and sustainability can coexist harmoniously. Through the efforts of JUST Fashion, ReFaCE, and designers like Deepa Dosaja, Kooroo, Kipépéo, and WildLife Works Apparel, the fashion industry is evolving into a force, healing our planet one elegant, eco-conscious piece at a time.
As we move forward, let us embrace the promise of African fashion—a promise that blends aesthetics with ethics and style with substance. It’s a promise that honours tradition while looking toward the future. It’s a promise that the fashion industry can and will be a positive force in the fight against climate change and a beacon of hope for a greener, more just world.
By Amra Turcinhodzic, JUST fashion & Lisa Kibutu, ReFaCE