On Tuesday, Rachael Wang, Allure’s former fashion director who left the magazine industry to focus on eco-conscious styling and consulting, announced a collaborative swimwear capsule with OOKIOH, the L.A.-based sustainable brand beloved by Gigi and Bella Hadid, Gabrielle Union, and Hailey Bieber. The collection, which was produced using recycled nylon and plastic water bottles, includes three new styles — two bikinis and one maillot — each of which is available in three colorways — army green, black, and white.
But while the swimsuits are not only stylish but size-inclusive and sustainable, the aspect of the Rachael Wang x OOKIOH collaboration that’s most newsworthy is the charitable organization that its proceeds will benefit: Intersectional Environmentalist. Starting today, 10% of the net proceeds from each Rachael Wang suit sold on OOKIOH’s website will be donated to the nonprofit organization, which “seeks to dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement by identifying the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are connected and advocating for justice for people and the planet.”
Indeed, the BIPOC community is disproportionately affected by climate change. “Toxic pollution and hazardous waste contamination sites tend to be located near low income communities of color,” Wang says. A recent study in the journal PNAS found that not only are white communities less likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution than BIPOC communities, they’re also the main contributors of it, meaning that BIPOC people are suffering at a greater rate from pollution-causing illnesses at the hands of white people. Wang also lists off flooding, landslides, droughts, and fires as the effects of the climate crisis, along with financial losses due to loss of housing and job opportunities — two things that also impact BIPOC communities at disproportionate rates.
“The Sierra Club’s recent statement acknowledging that their 128-year-old organization has caused ‘significant and immeasurable harm’ and played a ‘substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy’ acknowledges some of the ways in which the environmental movement has not only failed the Black community but upheld the systems that continue to oppress them,” Wang says. Last week, U.S. environmentalist organization The Sierra Club spoke out about the white supremacist environment that the club’s founder John Muir, who has long been considered a beacon of hope for conservation, created while at the helm.
For Wang, intersectional environmentalism is at the core of everything that she does. In 2016, Wang traveled to North Dakota to peacefully protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline and “stand in solidarity with the water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux,” she says. “Learning about the intimate connection between humans and the planet from Indigenous youth, whose cultures were built on inherent sustainability, was profound in ways I can never express enough gratitude for. It allowed me to better understand that the same systems that exploit the planet also exploit people,” she says. “The results of injustices done to the planet directly harm those same people — disproportionately BIPOC — who are already being exploited and oppressed.”
With that, when she was approached about collaborating with OOKIOH, which has previously pledged to be pre-consumer plastic-free by 2022, adding a donation aspect to Intersectional Environmentalist was essential. Wang also made sure that the entire capsule was produced locally (to cut down on carbon emissions) by women who were paid fairly and provided with a safe working environment. She also wanted to provide consumers of all ages and body shapes with a timeless swimsuit style that would make them feel confident and chic. (The capsule marks OOKIOH’s first foray into extended sizing).
On Friday 7/31, Wang will be going live with Green Girl Leah on OOKIOH’s Instagram to discuss the unique ways that the environmental movement has excluded the Black community. Meanwhile, shop the collection now on OOKIOH.com and help raise money and awareness for Green Girl Leah’s fight for intersectional environmentalism.
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