With their comic debut in 1963 and their live-action film debut in 2012, the Avengers have made their mark on popular culture and in our hearts. Although the team roster expands and changes in both the comics and the film adaptations, the fun part of the Avengers is that it always consists of a group of individuals, with their own storylines and franchises, coming together to do good. In that sense, a newly launched, real-life spinoff is not so different from the fictional superhero team. Just as Marvel’s Avengers is a collection of some of the galaxy’s strongest bodies and brightest minds coming together to fight evil, the Fashion Avengers is “a collection of leading fashion industry forces coming together to inspire and accelerate progress towards the United Nations’ Global Goals.”
These 17 goals, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were selected by the UN General Assembly in 2015 as targets for all countries to achieve by 2030. The fashion industry is unique in that it can have an impact on all 17 goals, ranging from ending poverty and hunger to expanding access to clean water and clean energy, to combating climate change and protecting ecosystems. This campaign thus serves as a communicative device, shedding light on the impact fashion has had on the planet and can have in achieving these goals, and as a roadmap for making a traditionally unsustainable industry into an influential changemaker. Gail Gallie, the cofounder of the organization behind the Fashion Avengers, Project Everyone, told Women’s Wear Daily that “the Fashion Avengers will advocate for and drive action toward the Global Goals both internally through embedding the Goals in their business strategy, engaging employees, boards, etc. and externally (consumer/customer networks, partners, etc.)”
Project Everyone is a communications nonprofit started by Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis that seeks to advance the SDGs. The organization launched the Fashion Avengers campaign on June 10 at the Forest for Change – The Global Goals Pavilion, in the courtyard of the Somerset House in London. The forest consists of 400 juvenile trees – all of which will be replanted across the boroughs of London in October – surrounding 17 mirrored pillars corresponding to each of the goals.
Besides Project Everyone, a plethora of other well-known organizations and companies are involved with the initiative. The campaign is backed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council. And the Fashion Avengers lineup itself consists of the brands Bottletop, Burberry, ForwardPMX, Marie Claire, PANGAIA, Pour Les Femmes, Rankin, Vanish, and With Love Darling. Like Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton offer their unique skills to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s original lineup, each of these companies offer something different to the Fashion Avengers. For example, Marie Claire is the only media partner and ForwardPMX is the only agency partner. Each of these companies is taking steps to become more climate-friendly; Burberry has set a goal to be climate positive by 2040 and plans to put money towards protecting ecosystems and helping at-risk groups adapt to climate change. With the campaign running until 2030, each of these brands will have the opportunity to renew their partnerships every year.
Under the hashtag #fashionavenger, a social campaign highlights the main difference between the real-life and fictional Avengers; unlike in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “everyone can be a Fashion Avenger.” In addition to spreading the word on social media, “if you want to become a fashion avenger, buy less, rent clothes, and look where the clothes are being made,” according to Malaika founder Noëlla Coursaris-Musunka. A number of other high-profile celebrities have been photographed in their own ‘Fashion Avengers outfits’ by Rankin. These celebrities included actors like Danielle Galligan; artists like Darkwah Kyei-Darkwah; author Charly Cox; blogger Ola Awosika; and model Arizona Muse. Each also provided advice for making more sustainable fashion choices; describing his outfit, model Marcus Hodson explained that “all trends come back around so you can find old stuff, reimagine it, get creative.” Like these companies and celebrities, we too can assemble to make a difference.