Above Summer Rayne Oakes, co-founder of Source4Style.
OAKES has had a long association with
Lucire. Both Oakes and this title have a commitment to the
environment, with Lucire being the first international magazine
to publish sustainable style editorials. Oakes’s ‘Behind the Label’
found its original home here, and as the 2000s unfolded, her impact
on the world of eco-fashion grew remarkably.
Spreads in everything from Vanity Fair to international
newspapers followed, with Oakes acclaimed as the ‘eco-model’. An
entomologist by training—she graduated from Cornell University—but
a model during her university years, Oakes lived the brand,
endorsing, strategizing and representing only companies that shared
her socially responsible outlook. Not that any of us here doubted
it since we first crossed paths nearly a decade ago, but it was
the appearance of Oakes’s comprehensive book on eco-fashion, Style,
Naturally, that cemented in the general public’s minds that
she was an indisputable authority on the subject.
She wasn’t alone in carving a niche in social responsibility
in the fashion world. Others were making inroads in Fair Trade,
Shared Equity and sustainable sourcing. Yale alumna Benita Singh
travelled to Guatemala in 2003 as part of her research into post-war
truth commissions for her International Relations degree. There,
she met women whose husbands had died in the conflict, and were
surviving on craft. However, they faced difficulties in marketing
Singh connected those artisans with first- and second-world
markets after that journey. She co-founded Mercado Global, a non-profit
that now provides employment for over 300 women artisans. Singh
then went to India to work with crafts’ cooperatives there.
Two years ago, Oakes and Singh began planning a global
fashion and design industry portal. Just as Singh connected artisans
with markets, Source4Style,
as the venture ultimately came to be known, connects sustainable
fabric supplies to designers in an ecommerce platform. The second
incarnation of the Source4Style
website, which had been in pilot phase for the last 14 months,
launches today, December 19.
|Top Source4Style home page. Centre
Elizabeth Cloyd (Director of Community Relations), at work.
Left Source4Style banner. Above Origins of Source4Styles
users from the sites beta phase.
Source4Style launches with 1,300 materials, including
plain cottons and silks to the likes of bark cloth and salmon-skin
leather, from 23 countries. According to Source4Style, Payless ShoeSource,
Project Runway’s Christian Siriano and Ecco Domani Award
winner Study are among the foundation designer members. Eight hundred
designers were already on board with the original, beta version
of the site.
The market, as Oakes highlights, is worth US$400,000
million—but there is no single, manageable destination for sourcing.
Sustainable clothing alone is a US$6,000
million industry, growing by 40 per cent per annum since 2005. This
is where Source4Style’s genius lies: it has the potential of reorganizing
the way designers do the business of sourcing. Reorganizing lives
has always been the task of the biggest internet ventures, be it
Google or Facebook, and Source4Style’s proposition is so simple,
yet so compelling, designers should find its offering a no-brainer.
Using a B2B subscription model, Source4Style aims to
shave the costs of suppliers who are, according to Singh, spending
up to 43 per cent of their marketing budgets just on trade shows.
‘It’s a huge up-front time and financial commitment with no guarantee
of a return,’ she says. On the other end of the scale, Cornell University
research shows that designers are spending up to 85 per cent of
their time visiting those same shows, going through online directories,
or wading through sample folders. This means the real reason they
got in to the field—to create and design—is only 15 per cent of
And with consumer demand for eco-fashion rising year
on year—there is no sign of the trend abating—Source4Style simply
The market has rivals. Alibaba and MFG
currently play in this field, but lack the focus. Source4Style has
changing, original content, and a custom wholesale ordering process.
Inventories and pricing are updated twice a day. Lead times, availability,
and material specifications are all clearly presented on a website
that we found particularly navigable.
1 | 2
Below Source4Styles screen shots, plus
a sample swatch.
aims to shave the costs of suppliers who are, according to Singh,
spending up to 43 per cent of their marketing budgets just on trade
shows. Its a huge up-front time and ﬁnancial
commitment with no guarantee of a return, she says. On the
other end of the scale, Cornell University research shows that designers
are spending up to 85 per cent of their time visiting those same
shows, going through online directories, or wading through sample
Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.
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Join Source4Style for 30 per cent off