Doutzen Kroes Wants YOU To Become A Global Goals Ambassador...
The supermodel is fronting the #TOGETHERBAND campaign with sustainable accessories brand Bottletop, aiming to engage over a billion people with the UN's 17 Global Goals via the medium of friendship bracelets.
Fashion is finally waking up to sustainability – but the lexicon surrounding eco-friendly and ethical fashion is fraught with inaccuracies. In ‘Get Your Greens’, Vogue explores how the industry is advancing towards a greener future.
Humanium. It sounds like something from a comic book – and its composition is almost as mind-bending. The world’s only Fairtrade metal, it’s made from melted down AK-47s and destructed firearms, the brainchild of a Swedish NGO which focuses on removing illegal weapons from the countries where they cause mass-destruction. And now it’s being used to make jewellery, as part of the ethical accessories brand Bottletop’s #TOGETHERBAND campaign.
Launching on April 22, World Earth Day, the campaign seeks to engage people with the United Nations’ Global Goals – 17 sustainable development goals that were set in 2017, but have yet to impact the international consciousness. Bottletop’s solution? Create 17 sustainably produced friendship bracelets, in the corresponding bright colours of the 17 goals, made from recycled firearm metal from El Salvador and upcycled ocean plastic from Costa Rica, and by women in Nepal who have been rescued from human trafficking.
That’s a lot of information to absorb in one small bracelet, I suggest, when I meet Bottletop’s co-founder, Cameron Saul, in London, several weeks before the launch. He cracks a wry smile. “We’ve spent the last three-and-a-half years building a campaign that can harness the power and reach of social media, while trying to humanise these Global Goals which are quite lofty, nebulous things by nature. I guess it’s ultimately what we’ve always done with Bottletop: tried to address big issues like gender inequality, poverty, upcycling, sustainability, in a very tactile and tangible way.”
Then there’s Doutzen Kroes. The Dutch supermodel fronts the campaign, kicking things off with Goal 15: Life On Land in her capacity as a global ambassador for Knot On My Planet (an initiative that seeks to end elephant extinction), alongside the Chinese actress and UN ambassador Michelle Yeoh, as well as the WWF Conservation Director Professor Catherine Ndegwa. Vogue's contributing editor, Emma Weymouth, is also involved: "I think the campaign is groundbreaking because it demonstrates a multi-layered approach, synergising conservation and recycling whilst developing skill within communities of women. I have such respect and admiration for so many of the world’s beautiful endangered species as we work so closely with them at Longleat as part of our global breeding programmes."
The bracelets come in pairs, with the idea being that you choose the Global Goal that’s most pertinent to you, and give a bracelet to a friend to spread awareness. “We hope people will choose something that they love, because it speaks to them on an aesthetic level, but that they will then become an ambassador for the extraordinary story behind it.” As is the hope with all Bottletop products, “people become amazing spokespeople for issues that they never really engaged with before,” says Saul.
Saul co-founded Bottletop in 2002, initially as a charity, with Oliver Wayman – and immediately made a splash with his upcycled aluminium ring-pull bags held together with Seventies-esque crochet. Made from discarded ring-pulls collected, cleaned and polished in Brazil, the bags took off, generating local employment and raising funds for grass roots education projects in Africa.
“In 2002, no one was talking about impact-anything, sustainable-anything,” Saul observes. “But culture became our toolkit, so we began fundraising through the creation of products. We watched the landscape beginning to shift in terms of consciousness and met extraordinary people along the way who believed in us and our vision.” Does he get frustrated when brands try to jump on the sustainable band wagon? “There are certain moments when I see brands doing stuff and think, Oh, for God’s sake,” he laughs. “But if that doesn’t happen then it shows it hasn’t got the chance of mainstreaming. Ultimately, if what is drawing people to wake up and step up to sustainability is the fact that consumers are going in a certain direction: brilliant.”