As one of the famous environmental campaigners in the fashion world, Amber Valletta will not stop until she is aware of the changing industry.
She still looked radiant, perfectly natural even in the dim light of her laptop. With a rustic face without makeup, a cup of coffee in hand and a determination to show on the outside, Amber Valletta smilingly recalls why the fashion industry needs to change the way it operates to be sustainable than. Yes, she has been campaigning for the environment for many years and certainly hasn’t stopped, at least until awareness has changed and the fashion industry accepts to listen. Calm yet focused, Amber is the epitome of action: changing the way we treat the earth is simply a daily obligation. One by one, one by one. But first, let’s enjoy the coffee.
How was the idea for the K/Kushion sustainable accessory collection for Karl Lagerfeld formed?
At that time, Amber Valletta had my own company, Master & Muse, cooperated with YOOX.com. She was looking for a partner and found Karl to be the perfect choice. He is a true innovator. Amber Valletta expressed the idea of a sustainable collection and he enthusiastically connected me with Pier Paolo (Righi), CEO of the Karl Lagerfeld brand. They were very willing to make that idea a reality, but in the end, our side was not really ready to produce. It’s a pity that this combination could not take place at that time despite everyone’s enthusiasm. Nevertheless, Pier and Amber Valletta kept in touch and gradually became friends. Right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, he asked me if I wanted to restart this project? I immediately said: sure!
Amber Valletta & the power of activism in fashion
Amber Valletta grew up in Oklahoma and spent most of my childhood in the wild. I myself have always felt a special connection to the natural world. Recalling that day, when I was very young, I started campaigning for the environment. Perhaps, I always want to find a greater meaning for my life. My mother is also a very strong influence on my moral standards. She is also an environmental activist. She, along with many other activists, prevented the construction of a thermal power plant on Native American land near my hometown. Having experienced and witnessed these things early on really instilled in me the power of activism.
The link between environmental awareness and fashion
It is a long process. In the 90s, there was something that made it difficult for me to connect with the fashion industry but I didn’t know exactly what it was. At that time, we were still using film for photography, a lot of paper and chemicals were used to make magazines… Something was not right. Around this time, Al Gore started talking about climate change, which I can understand and begin to associate with. It inspired me to start studying environmental issues at New York University. After having my son, I became really focused on advocating for the environment in a deeper way.
Some truths in the fashion industry are gradually exposed such as child labor or poor working conditions. People even throw dye into the rivers. Things just happened bit by bit and I started connecting them again. I knew then that I would have to focus on helping both the industry and customers change the way they view sustainability.
Karl Lagerfeld was one of the first brands to sign the Fashion Compact in 2019. The treaty was signed by more than 60 fashion brands worldwide, committed to building a more sustainable future in areas such as: climate, oceans and biodiversity. Profits from this collection will also be donated to the Ocean Clean Up organization in support of Fashion Pact’s goals, continuing its momentum.