Written by Vann R. Newkirk II for CNN
If you thought this week’s United Nations climate talks were taking place among the beige-tiled buildings of The Hague, think again.
Seemingly out of nowhere, fashion designers, models and editors arrived in the Dutch city, decked out in their preferred shades of neutral, preppy and rosy.
And while the messages were all similar: save the planet, embrace sustainability and “be the change you want to see in the world,” fashion also offered other distinct angles of solidarity.
Noel Baker, an eyewear designer based in Los Angeles, stood out among the crowd with a bunch of digitally printed cupcakes, wrapped in environmentally friendly cardboard.
“They are green, 100% reusable and environmentally friendly cupcakes,” he said.
Worn by a team of three designers and researchers, and a photographer, the edible magazines included topics like climate change, water conservation and sustainable food.
The environment went well beyond cupcakes, though.
Bennett Day, a former clothing executive who has now turned his skills to environmental justice, attended to present a collection of woven hemp clothes made with recycled material.
“Our pieces are definitely on the outside being creative,” Day said. “But on the inside, every single piece of that fabric has been on a landfill.”
Day worked with hemp scientists, small producers and textile recycling companies in order to develop his collection, which will be used by contemporary artists.
The response from the designers and journalists in the crowd has been supportive, Day said.
“In New York, people love (inventive) fashion and artists; people are very much in love with this material,” he said.
Anne Baldassare, who was attending her first climate talks, embraced the range of both fashion choices and messages displayed, both inside and outside the European convention.
“It’s really fascinating, because there’s a lot of meaningful conversations happening,” Baldassare said. “Everybody’s really focused on ‘how’ and ‘why’ right now, but it’s also really fun and playful and cute.”