Rosario Dawson called out the fashion industry on Saturday night in New York. The actress hit the red carpet to support the Fifteen Percent Pledge and founder Aurora James at its first benefit gala.
Dawson, who is the co-founder of the sustainable, ethically produced and globally inclusive label Studio 189, said there is no more excuse for the lack of diversity and representation in this business.
“We have realized all industries can shut down now and we can pivot. So we know there is literally no excuse — if someone’s posting a black box and saying that they care about access and resources, if they care about representation, then taking the fifteen percent pledge is the least that they can do. And this organization is about bringing action to that and celebrating how beautiful and powerful that can be.”
James founded the non-profit in June 2020 in order to help boost Black brands by holding retailers accountable as they commit to dedicating 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned labels.
On the sustainability front, Dawson added that fashion needs to appreciate that its the second-largest polluting industry in the word. “A lot has to be changed,” she said. “The idea of the competition and starving people of resources and pushing people to the side and kind of dominating the space, I think that conversation’s gone over. If we’re going to build a more sustainable, regenerative, and ethical system within fashion, we’re going to have to start working with each other.”
The “Dopesick” star added that she’s worked closely with James, who continually supports Dawson’s Studio 189 brand. The label is made in Africa and produces African and African-inspired content and clothing while focusing on empowering artisans and creating jobs. While it first launched in 2013, Studio 189 is in a growth spurt after recently landing retail partners in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The brand is also available direct-to-consumer as well as at Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop.
On the red carpet, Dawson was joined by co-founder Abrima Erwiah, both wearing handmade looks from their company. Dawson wore a hat handmade in Haiti using dried grass and its natural materials, and a colorful skirt made in Ghana using recycled cotton and organic cotton.
“The design is really celebrating the preservation of the planet, thinking what messages we’re sending for the future generations,” Erwiah said, noting hand-woven strips and symbols on the dress were inspired by the interconnectivity and journey between the U.S. and West Africa.
To see all the celebrity arrivals at the event, click through the gallery.