Every second, it’s estimated that 11 million bits of information are transmitted to our brains. There is just not enough time or energy to care about everything, so we prioritize based on what we need or what we're willing to give. This is why I find it brilliant to group business and philanthropy; essentially, giving and gaining simultaneously.
In response to New York City’s homelessness, Jordana Guimaraes started The Nylon Project - an initiative that included a New York Fashion Week runway show and event designed to help raise awareness and funds. The launch of the #ItCanBeYou campaign was held at the popular nightlife spot The Delancey in Manhattan and featured influencers and celebrities from the US and Canada.
The success of this event and campaign was based on Jordana's ability to find out where people were paying attention (New York Fashion Week) and placing her project in the centre of it. The masses are already interested in attending fashion shows; dressing up, mingling with celebrities, and taking photos. Why not bring fundraising opportunities directly to them?
Perhaps it’s fanciful to be discussing fashion in the face of the city’s most neglected. Or perhaps the project conceptualizes what it means to help the homeless by finding an accessible approach to raising money. Fifty percent of the proceeds from sponsorships and runway show ticket sales were used to fund this initiative - a total of $12,500.
The February 7 fashion show featured 25 influencers, myself included, who walked the runway wearing sponsored brands. The money raised will provide the homeless with 1,500 meals and clothing to prepare them for a job interview.
New York City homeless shelters have seen a surge in recent years. In a city of 8.5 million people, more than 58,000 homeless men, women, and children sleep in homeless shelters. For some perspective, if Yankee Stadium offered seats to all the homeless in New York, there would be thousands of people still standing.
The shelter population in New York has been growing over the last several years. But why that is happening — and what to do about it — are a matter of dispute.
While mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is building and preserving affordable units, Jordana is heading out with food funded by the NYFW event. The rest of us participating in this project will continue advocating for change in New York, Vancouver, and London. We do what we can although the process can feel overwhelming, like trying to fill a pothole in what's really a crater.
Nonetheless, it's a start.
Fashion may not curb homelessness, but it can certainly serve as a means to put positive change in motion. By getting creative with solutions and tapping into markets with established followers and appeal - such as fashion and entertainment - it opens up the sphere of possibility to combat a growing problem. Only then are we in a position to understand the success and significance of something like The Nylon Project.
The Nylon Project details:
Celebrities in attendance included Christina Milian, Jenni Farley (JWOWW), Wé McDonald of Season 11 of The Voice, Gender Capitalist Rain Dove, Peter Madrigal of Vanderpump Rules, Miss New York 2016 Nicole Kulovany, Rachel Lynch of I Hate Blonde.
Sponsored brands included Anje Clothing, Belle Fare, Fair Harbor, JayDee, Eternal Springs, SCRD, Wild Mantle, SoFrancisco, Karli Buxton, The Valencia, Mana Made Jewelry, Lonewolf Collective, HERO New York, Conscious Step, Mr. Custom Made, ARMARIUM, House of Eleven and Alkemi Collective.
Other sponsors included Christo Fifth Avenue + Guilty Beauty Gal – responsible for all make-up & hair as well as Latoya Mcleary responsible for styling the show.
Digital sponsor StayFilm created a platform in which everyone can use moving forward to assemble images & videos of what they’re doing to aid the homeless in their community and turn it into a video which can be shared on social media via our #ItCanBeYou.