New York-based Kerry Bannigan is a fashion disruptor in all of the best ways possible. After graduating from university Kerry knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur who could drive positive change. “But, this kind of work was not something that was widely discussed nor did I have accessible role models.”
Now Kerry is the executive director of the Fashion Impact Fund and is committed to using fashion media as a force for good while accelerating action for social, economic, and environmental change.
Kerry also created the Conscious Fashion Campaign, an initiative of the Fashion Impact Fund in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the PVBLIC Foundation. The campaign aims to amplify the visibility and increase media representation of women entrepreneurs leading the fashion sector towards a responsible future.
We caught up with Kerry to learn more about her journey.
Photo: Maria Dominika Photography
Why have you dedicated your career to pioneering transformative global fashion and media initiatives?
I knew that fashion and media had the influence to shape society and, through these mediums, I want to disrupt and bring important conversations and opportunities to the forefront.
In 2007 I co-founded my first business to cultivate global emerging fashion pioneers and strengthen industry diversity. The independent fashion designer showcase, supported by New York City Economic Development Corporation, facilitated government partnerships to promote international trade, investment, and economic development.
In 2012, I became a Global Advisor at the PVBLIC Foundation, an innovative non-profit media organisation that harnesses the power of media to drive social change, and this is where my two worlds of fashion and impact truly fused, and I accelerated my mission to encourage transformative sector change.
Today, I am the executive director of the Fashion Impact Fund and the president of the board at the PVBLIC Foundation.
What role does the media play in creating transformative social, economic, and environmental change?
Media is a powerful tool to shape societal beliefs and cultural perceptions. Vast amounts of media are being consumed today and the sector has a responsibility to make a positive impact on society, not just be led by profits.
I believe that it is essential that female changemakers are included as experts, leaders, and on-the-ground voices sharing perspectives that reflect the realities of life – personally and professionally.
The world’s leading media, advertising, and content stakeholders need to increase women’s representation, uplift women’s voices, and create a diverse media landscape.
What does the Fashion Impact Fund aim to do and why?
For progress to be regained and achieved women’s economic empowerment and leadership need to be prioritised.
Towards the end of 2021, I launched the Fashion Impact Fund to support female founders in the fashion industry advancing education, media, and workforce development programs to accelerate women’s economic empowerment and leadership.
The charitable fund is committed to women-led fashion initiatives that reimagine the future with solutions for a fair, inclusive, and regenerative world.
How does the Conscious Fashion Campaign challenge the under-representation of women in the media?
The Conscious Fashion Campaign [an initiative of the Fashion Impact Fund] spotlights women entrepreneurs advancing fashion industry change on digital billboards. With women receiving only 25% of news features globally, the campaign amplifies the visibility and increases media representation of women entrepreneurs leading the fashion sector towards a responsible future.
In support of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Conscious Fashion Campaign aims to educate, inform, and inspire a diverse media landscape inclusive of women entrepreneurs shaping the fashion industry and society with innovative solutions.
By amplifying changemakers, especially women, in the media we can disrupt the mass content consumption from fashion and lifestyle brands that continue to harm us, deplete the Earth’s resources and place profit before people and the planet.
NASDAQ billboard, Times Square, New York
Why are female founders and women-led initiatives so vital in creating a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry?
Female founders are advocating for a new paradigm in the fashion sector – one that leads us towards an equitable and resilient world. So often these agents of change represent vulnerable and marginalised populations. It is imperative to support their leadership as they trailblaze solutions, systems, and strategies that are addressing the critical issues of our time.
What excites you the most about the work that you do?
Whilst I am hopeful from the female founders that I meet and support, I am rarely excited by the society that we operate in today. I am frustrated. I channel that into my constant drive to support, see and achieve change.
I get to learn about incredible initiatives that women are leading and this gives me tremendous hope. Despite it all, there are women all around the world relentlessly working to make a positive impact.
Can you share a few women-owned sustainable fashion brands that you have been loving?
I am not a big shopper. I have a small capsule wardrobe filled with a mix of bought, preloved, and swapped. I am an outfit repeater and sometimes rent. Women-owned sustainable fashion brands to check out include Anyango Mpinga, ONEOFEACH, Looms of Ladakh, Unhidden, NKWO, and The Vault by Volpe Beringer.
What does a better future for fashion look like?
A fashion industry that is producing less, paying more, and valuing people and the planet. A sector that advocates for a fair, inclusive, and regenerative world.