Behind a curtain, hidden from the eye of the consumer, lies the truth about the world of fashion. Along a supply chain that begins in the soil and ends in a landfill, clothing production exacts a devastating toll on the earth as well as on the labor force toiling in garment factories around the world. This webinar discusses the way the supply chain works, what mitigating efforts are in place and looks at how fashion fits in a circular economy that aims to halt the endless consumption of our planet’s finite resources.
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Chief of Office, United Nations Office for Partnerships
La Rhea Pepper is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the global non-profit Textile Exchange and a life-long advocate for more sustainable practices in the apparel and textile industry. For more than 18 years, Textile Exchange has been at the forefront of driving meaningful change towards preferred, organic and regenerative fibers. After spearheading the successful growth of the organic cotton market, Textile Exchange (formerly Organic Exchange) has expanded the chain of custody standards beyond Organic Fibers, to include recycled rPET, as well as Responsible Down, Responsible Wool and Mohair.
A 5th generation farmer and the co-founder of two successful organic cotton businesses, La Rhea’s unique perspective helps her lead Textile Exchange along with its pioneering Members to create preferred fiber and material strategies, strengthen integrity in the market place through the adoption of standards and promote deeper engagement within the supply network.
Prior to Textile Exchange, La Rhea and her late husband, Terry, were founding members of the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC) in 1993. Today, TOCMC is the largest organic cotton cooperative in the United States. Together, they built and demonstrated a sustainable business model for farmers creating strategic partnerships with various manufacturers and “value-added” programs including Cotton Plus (organic fabric) and Organic Essentials (organic personal care products).
In 1995, La Rhea served on the Administrative Council for Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and two years later was elected to the Organic Trade Association’s Fiber Council Steering Committee. She joined the Organic Trade Association’s Board of Directors in 1998 where she supported the creation of organic fiber processing standards and chain of custody for the industry. Continuing to serve and support advocacy for family farms in the US, she more recently served as chair for RAFI – the Rural Advancement Foundation International from 2015-2018. La Rhea is currently serving on the board of Directors for CottonConnect and the Regenerative Organic Alliance.
Ms. Pepper holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Abilene Christian University and a Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership from Lubbock Christian University.
Director, New Standard Institute
Maxine Bédat is the founder and director of New Standard Institute, a think and do tank using data to drive accountability in industry. She is also the author of the book, UNRAVELED: The Life and Death of a Garment, which has been longlisted for the Financial Times/ McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2021.
Prior to NSI, Maxine co-founded and was the CEO of Zady, a fashion brand and lifestyle destination creating a transparent and sustainable future for the apparel industry. For its work in sustainability, Zady was named one of the world’s “Most Innovative Companies” in retail by Fast Company. Bédat has been recognized by Oprah in her Super Soul 100, for leaders elevating humanity. She has been regularly featured as an expert by Bloomberg, the Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue, Forbes, Business of Fashion, and CNN.
Bédat began her career in international law working at the Rwandan Criminal Tribunal and Allen & Overy, and received a Juris Doctor with distinction from Columbia Law School. She lives with her husband and daughter in Minneapolis.
President, Apparel Impact Institute
A passionate advocate for “doing the right thing,” Lewis Perkins is the President of the Apparel Impact Institute (AII), an organization launched by leading brands and apparel sector industry associations to identify, fund, and scale programs to drive positive impact in the fashion sector. Previous to this Perkins was President of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) where he launched the Institute’s Fashion Positive initiative, which engages designers, manufacturers, brands and influencers in creating Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM materials and products with the circular economy in mind. Prior to joining the C2CPII, Perkins led sustainability for The Mohawk Group and consulted with corporations and organizations on their social and environmental programs.
He has served as an Ashoka Strategy Thought Partner, a member of the H&M Global Change Award Expert Panel, and a Design Mentor for both the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), as well as the IDEO & Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy “Circular Design Competition.” Perkins has also been a participant of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Consumption.
Perkins holds a Master of Business Administration with a focus on corporate social responsibility from Goizueta Business School at Emory University and a Bachelor of Arts from Washington & Lee University. In 2018, he was recognized by his undergraduate alma mater, with the Distinguished Alumni award.