by Michael dEstries
Categories: Fashion.

snipshot_1i0fpksh3g.jpgSummer Oakes is not your average model. Her direction in the fashion world has set her apart from her constituients. Why? Oakes only models clothing made from organic or recycled materials. Grist recently put together a nice bio on Oakes and her amibitions in the eco-world. You can get the full scoop here, but a little taste can be found below:

“For Oakes, that message is clear. She says the $400 billion global textile industry’s reliance on pesticides, herbicides, and toxic dyes is a significant, underreported environmental and health problem. She also cites the 40 million people employed in clothing trades, many working for pittances in developing nations. While eco-activists seldom mention it, Oakes believes that fashion ‘offers exceptionally good opportunities to talk about environmental and ecological issues, as well as fair trade and labor standards.’ Addressing such a staggering situation, she says, requires that consumers — and not just the crunchy ones — understand the connection between the shirts on their backs and larger issues.”

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • rebecca

    What an incredible way to wear your beliefs on your shoulder. Go Summer! I think it’s great.

  • Rachel

    A very dedicated individual. I suppose I don’t count because I work with her, but she is an incredibly dedicated and passionate individual. I’ve never met anyone quite like her- and her knowledge of the environment runs so deep. And YES she is fond of insects!

  • Shawna

    I’m impressed by her earnest passion for the environment. But, she’s still promoting an unrealistic body image–that’s resulting in an epidemic of anorexia/bulimia–while using sexuality to sell an idea.

  • Rachel

    Hi Shawna:
    I hear your concern about the anorexia part, but Summer Rayne is a size 6-8 with a more athletic frame than “waif” frame, actually preventing her to do most “normal” runway work for girls who are half her size (typical models 0-4). She has maintained her body through healthy eating and moderate exercise, running, weight training, boxing, boarding. She refused to lose weight when her agency asked her. How is that fueling girls to starve themselves? If anything, it is promoting a healthy image – an image to take care of your body. I think you must be careful to distinguish that it is the “typical” fashion industry that may fuel the anoerexia debate, not Summer Rayne…as it has been discussed, she is far from the “typical” fashion model in more ways than one. Lifestyle choices and body image being two examples.

    Again, I don’t expect anyone to know this about her, but I know this firsthand because I have the privelege of working with her and knowing her for quite some time. Regarding the sexuality part, she doesn’t tackle internally with that at all, perhaps because she doesn’t take herself too seriously and doesn’t put emphasis on her looks (personally-speaking, not professionally-speaking). She considers physical – mental – and spiritual equal parts and enjoys being sensual in nature, but she never, never lets it get to her head.

    Thanks for your statement.

  • Shawna

    Well… I’m not sure about the second half of your response, Rachel. I just took a look at her website and there’s pics of her that seem much more sexual than sensual. Is that what positive change requires these days?

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  • Rachel

    Change happens a lot of ways. I don’t think sexuality is needed to promote change. We aren’t arguing with you.

    That being said, she is both personally and professionaly comfortable working within the fashion industry, which is largely focused on body, looks, sexuality, and sensuality. That’s the reality of it. She recognized the “requirements” moving into the industry and also the possible “controversy” that it could engender, but also realized that it would open new doors for effectiveness in change in the space that she occupies. In short, she wanted to utilize all her assests, (be in body, mind, spirit, hard work).

    Again, she is comfortable with that personally and professionally and is not afraid to “hide” her sexuality and WILL draw boundaries when necessary. It is about balance, and I think we define that in our own ways, with our own boundaries. One of her statements to the writer at Grist was something along the lines of “roping them in with the image and making certain that the substance and message isn’t far behind.” – but that got truncated for print. We can only hope that moving foward, we can accomplish this so to stimulate more progression in this movement.

    Thanks for your feedback, Shawna. We are glad to have this conversation with you, because we are open to opinions and discussion and respect your point of view.

  • tod brilliant

    I say hats off to ANYONE who is dedicated to using whatever talents, skills, education, you name it they have at their disposal to bring about rapid change to a world that needs it. Shawna, I hear you as well, but understand that there isn’t time to tear each other down for perceived hypocrisies. We have to support each other RIGHT NOW. I don’t know much about this person but from I’ve scanned, she’s simply trying her best, just like you, me, Ecorazzi and the rest of our tribe.

    Anyone going to go to the GOOD Magazine launch party?


    Tod Brilliant

  • Sustainable Sean

    Great discussion all around. The best thing about Summer (having conspired on a couple project ideas with her) is that she isn’t just a model. She has science credentials (a degree in entomology from Cornell) and fashion world credentials which means she can speak intelligently in both worlds, a hard combo to find (I lived it being a conservation biologist working at Nordstrom for 14 years). Finally, she does not have a classic model body type at all and has had to fight many battles to get where she is in that world. She finds a lot of her own modeling gigs and truly does bring her values with her. Regarding the more ‘sexual’ than sensual shots…working with great photographers is part of the job, if they’re wanting to shoot a certain kind of shot for their portfolio, a model’s job is to help the photographer create that image. Summer is one of my favorite people in the world for the way she thinks and the things she does, I look forward to her future endeavors, as well as the folks in the fashion world she’s inspiring to change their ways.

  • Myles

    Summer Rayne Oakes? She’s named after a season, a weather pattern, and a type of tree, clearly the girl has problems. I’ve seen her without makeup and she could turn people to stone. By the way, I don’t think she has an athletic build because she’s never participated in a sport in her life. She spent four years at school studying bugs, weirdo!

  • michael

    I’d be the last person to diminish to such a level, but honestly Myles, you’re an idiot. I hope you’re joking.

  • Bren

    Geez Myles, you obviously need to get laid. And the name, she is part American Indian.

  • Michael K

    Funny conversations. Myles, you are crazzzeee. She was on the basketball team and Xcountry AND track too… I went to school with this lass. And so what if she studied insects? Most funding to entomology departments are by the USDA (food/agriculture) – you know, the stuff we eat and by the ARMY (for tactical maneuvering studies). Think about that as you eat everyday…. Plus, that was only one thing. She also did Environmental Science and Geographic Information Systems. I think she is applying all of that now in a positive, albeit different way from the rest of us. Good for her and all of us. Keep it up Summer Rayne!

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