FIT Celebrates Innovation In Sustainability at Their 2019 Gala Fundraiser

by Charles Manning

Last night, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and the FIT Foundation hosted their annual awards gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The black-tie fundraiser brought in over $1 million dollars, which will be used to enhance programs, develop new initiatives, and provide scholarship funds to the college’s most promising students. This year’s theme was “Innovation in Sustainability,” celebrating FIT’s commitment to preparing the sustainable design and business pioneers of the future.

Amber Valletta — model/actor/activist/entrepreneur/all-around wonderful human — hosted the event, which honored Nadja Swarovski with the Social Impact in Sustainability Award. Swarovski, a member of the Swarovski executive board, received the award for leading the company’s significant global sustainability efforts.

Nadja Swarovski (BFA)

Kering was presented with the Corporate Innovation in Sustainability Award by New York Times fashion director and chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. Laurent Claquin, president of Kering Americas, accepted on behalf of the brand, which was recognized for its excellence as a global leader in sustainable fashion and luxury industries.

Laurent Claquin and Vanessa Friedman (Getty Images)

Finally Liz Peek, chair of the board of FIT, presented the inaugural FIT Trusteeship Award to FIT senior Kiana Brooks for her scholarly achievements, breathtaking roster of volunteer activities, and slew of projects that have enhanced the environment and culture of the entire college community.

Kiana Brooks (BFA)

Notable attendees included Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Randy Fenoli, Ken Downing, Dennis Basso, Amanda Hearst, Fern Mallis, Francisco Costa, Maxwell Osbourne, Dao-Yi Chow, and Joe Zee. The Daily was on the red carpet and took the opportunity to find out what sustainability in fashion meant to some of them.

“I’m all about up-cycling,” said Ken Downing. “I love taking old furniture and giving it a new life and refinishing it. [And] I’ve always loved the idea of clothes that have a longevity to them. When I’m done with something, I’m a big gifter — to artists, to models, to anyone who wants to come into my garage and have their way with my closet. Things have a longer life than all of us know. I’m also very concerned about my carbon footprint because I live on airplanes, so I do good things when I’m actually on the earth because I know I don’t do good things when I’m flying.”

Ken Downing (Getty Images)

“I’m a model with IMG, but I’m also doing a degree in environmental science, so this is something that’s super important to me,” said Erin Shea. “Fashion is such a big global industry and if we can get fashion into a sustainable realm  — and even better into a regenerative realm — that would make a really big impact on our planet.”

When asked if she ever found it difficult to reconcile your work in the fashion industry with what she know about its impact on the environment, Shea said, “I’ve seen so many people changing and I think it’s less about bringing people down who are doing the wrong thing, and more about building people up, and sharing as much as we can and just continually learning.”

Erin Shea (BFA)

Overall, people on the carpet acknowledged that there is much more still to be done, both personally and within the fashion industry, to protect our environment. As one might expect, youth and enthusiasm for the project often went hand in hand. “I think it’s generational,” said Fern Mallis, “[but] I’m becoming more and more conscious of it.”

Fern Mallis (Getty Images)

Here’s hoping that consciousness continues to grow for all of us.

Check out more pics from the event below.

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