Last week, activists on the Out of Fashion campaign made a huge splash by calling out Ralph Lauren in person and online. Activists demanded that the company get rainforest destruction and human rights abuses out of its supply chain.
Balloons proved to be a fun and effective way to engage passersby about getting rainforest destruction out of fashion.
Last Monday in New York, RAN campaigners and activists erected a 14 foot banner in front of the annual awards ceremony of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards. In front of industry peers, high-profile celebrities and fashion media, we were there to pressure Ralph Lauren to get deforestation and human rights abuses out of its clothing.
Braving rain and wind, we also handed out balloons to folks headed into the event, dressed to the nines for this highly influential fashion event. We were also able to engage many curious passersby, including several very excited kids.
One lesson we learned? Balloons are a far less intimidating way of communicating than holding signs or chanting. I found that people are not only more likely to take them than postcards, but also more likely to engage on the message of the campaign — several people stopped to talk with us. The balloons made people smile, and when we told them why we were there, most were very receptive.
Of course, you, our supporters, turned up for us in a big way online as well. During the event, RAN supporters clocked an amazing 1000 Facebook posts on Ralph Lauren’s wall and on its posts. We were ecstatic that one in five tweets about the event was from one of you – calling out Ralph Lauren and bringing attention to the issue of forests in fabric.
Interestingly (and unsurprisingly), the company actively worked to silence conversation on Facebook. It shut down comments on not only its main page, but on its posts. (But only after you all left 1000 comments!) Since activists were still taking action on Twitter (where Ralph Lauren can’t censor tweets), we were still able to insert ourselves into the conversation in a meaningful way. Supporters tweeted throughout the event, with about 1600 tweets mentioning Ralph Lauren’s role in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses.
Challenging Ralph Lauren at the CFDA Awards is a pretty bold move, one which the media picked up on as well. Our campaign is gaining steam as Complex, Fader, Refinery29, and HungerTV all picked up the story, along with several other outlets. Companies like Ralph Lauren rely on fashion media for favorable coverage and a chance to distinguish themselves from industry peers. So while they can shut down comments on Facebook, Ralph Lauren can’t ignore this kind of press.
In the coming months, we’ll be keeping up the pressure up and continuing to expose Ralph Lauren for its role in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses for fashion. We’ll make sure to keep you in the loop on how you can be a part of it.
Thank you for all you do.