Stylish Protest Brings Deforestation Concerns to Fashion Awards

Activists unroll a banner at red carpet event calling out Ralph Lauren’s implication in forest destruction, rights abuses


***Colorful high-resolution images of protest available

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989,


San Francisco, CA – Today, a colorful protest temporarily diverted attention from the red carpet parade at the 2015 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Awards at New York City’s Lincoln Center.

Dressed in sleek formal wear, activists deployed a large banner over the heads of the crowd while others handed out balloons and business cards to the gathered crowd, printed with a parody logo of the demonstration’s target: Ralph Lauren. The activists were using the annual fashion awards show to call attention to a serious message: Ralph Lauren, one of the biggest names in the fashion industry, makes its clothes at the expense of forest destruction, human rights abuses and climate pollution.

The activists and supporters present were part of Rainforest Action Network’s (RAN) Out of Fashion campaign which is targeting Ralph Lauren among the ‘Fashion Fifteen’ – a group of brands implicated in deforestation. The campaign is calling on Ralph Lauren to adopt policies that commit the leading fashion company to using only forest-friendly fabrics in its products.

“Every year, millions of trees are turned into clothing through the use of forest fabrics like rayon and viscose,” said Brihannala Morgan, Senior Forest Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network (RAN). “This scandal has been hidden in plain sight for too long, but no more. The time has come for the fashion industry, and in particular Ralph Lauren, to take responsibility for its impacts on people and the planet and to publicly adopt binding policies that prevent deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution from being woven into the fabrics Americans wear everyday.

“There are some brands that are taking action on this issue, like H&M and Stella McCartney, but Ralph Lauren isn’t one of them, and there’s just no excuse. As one of the biggest fashion brands in the world, Ralph Lauren has the ability and resources to ensure that human rights abuses and forest destruction won’t be a part of their next collection.” Morgan said.

Recent global expansion of mega-plantations for the production of pulp for fabrics has been devastating to indigenous and forest-dependent communities. Illegal land-grabbing is rampant. In the area owned by just one company, Toba Pulp Lestari, in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, over 20 distinct cases have been documented where traditional, community-owned land has been forcibly seized without the consent of the community and clear-cut for fabric pulp production.

These communities have been protesting against the loss of their land, livelihoods and resources, and have maintained a decades-long campaign against Toba Pulp Lestari, which is owned by Indonesian tycoon Sukanto Tanoto. Tanoto also owns one of the most controversial families of companies in Indonesia — Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group. Among many others, RGE owns the pulp-processing company Sateri and APRIL, perhaps Indonesia’s most notorious forest destroyer.

RAN’s Out of Fashion campaign is highlighting Ralph Lauren as one of the most prominent brands among the “Fashion 15” group of companies — including Prada, LVMH, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Vince, Guess, Velvet, L Brands, Forever 21, Under Armour, Footlocker, Abercrombie and Fitch, GAIAM and Beyond Yoga. RAN is calling on these fashion companies to take responsibility for their supply chains, identify and eliminate bad actors, and develop strong, time bound commitments to protect forests and human rights.

For more information on dissolving pulp and RAN’s Out of Fashion campaign, see here.