Ocean pollution met fashion this weekend at the launch of the Vortex Project – a collaboration between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Bionic Yarn and Cookies for All to turn ocean debris into recyclable fashion. The New York Fashion Week event was held at the American Museum of Natural History under the blue whale with press, fashion industry professionals and celebrities gathered to learn about the first project of the collaboration — Raw for the Oceans, a line of blue jeans with partners G-Star.
Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr was invited to join the lineup of speakers to talk about our work in the collection of data concerning the invisible pollutants that collect in the bodies of marine mammals and ultimately humans. He described the oceans as the blue heart and blood of this planet – the life support system, “And as any NASA astronaut knows, when life support goes down, all is lost.”
Photographer David LaChapelle introduced Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson, who talked about the current state of the oceans and the efforts of the many Sea Shepherd teams around the world battling whaling, poaching and now pollution. Other speakers included Bionic Yarn’s co-founding partners Tim Coombs and Tyson Toussant, G-star CMO Thecla Schaefer and Sea Shepherd consulting scientist, R&D Developer of The Vortex Project, John Davis, and Daniella Russo of the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
The celebrity draw of the evening was Grammy-winning artist Pharrell Williams, an investor and ambassador for Bionic Yarns, who wore a shirt made with the product. He talked of the backlash he receives as a successful recording artist, perceived as wealthy and wasteful, when in reality he is passionate about environmental activism and the use of green technologies to solve problems of pollution. A self-proclaimed Trekkie and lover of the work of Carl Sagan, Pharrell impressed the audience with his humility and curiosity in science as a solution. He shared this video he narrated about G-Star’s Raw for the Oceans line, set to his Oscar-nominated hit “Happy”:
At the end of the evening Iain Kerr passed along a gift he had brought for Pharrell – “Songs of the Humpback Whale” by Ocean Alliance President and founder Roger Payne. He was told that Pharrell had been given many a cd’s of songs in his career, but this was definitely the first from whales.
(Pictured top left: Iain Kerr, Tyson Toussant, Thecla Schaefer and Pharrell Williams. Above right: Captain Paul Watson)