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Twenty years ago: Lucire becomes UN Environment’s first fashion industry partner

It’s been 20 years since Lucire and the United Nations Environment Programme decided to work together. Jack Yan looks back at how the arrangement came about and why it’s even more vital today
June 2, 2023/12.29

Above: Summer Rayne Oakes modelled Storm Williams in 2005 in an early ‘Behind the Label’ feature. Header image: Summer Rayne Oakes models jewellery by Allan Schwarz, photographed by William Coupon.
It was 20 years ago that Lucire became the United Nations Environment Programme’s first fashion industry partner.

The UN issued a press release and promoted the initiative widely on June 2, 2003, and I recall doing UN Radio as part of the publicity.

Their release included the following:

One of the first emerging partners in this area is the award-winning web-based global fashion magazine, Lucire. According to Lucire’s founding publisher, Jack Yan, “Fashion magazines should not only communicate the labels and their offerings; they should also give the industry insight into what’s hot and what’s not.”

“In our joint effort with UNEP, Lucire will champion those who understand sustainability, bringing them the consumer demand that they deserve”, says Mr. Yan. “At the same time, we will be able to send a signal back to the fashion industry that this is what today’s society desires.”


It took a while for us to find designers regularly but that was buoyed by Summer Rayne Oakes’s ‘Behind the Label’ series. Sum was far more connected to the sustainable fashion world on the US east coast, and despite New Zealand’s clean, green reputation, things hadn’t taken off as much as we had expected when we entered into the UNEP partnership.

I had felt it very important we did this in 2002–3 and began talking to Will Rogowski, who was with UNEP at the time. I also thought it was obvious that it was needed as even then fast fashion and environmental waste were concerns. While we also did articles on the former, we felt the balance needed to be redressed and I wanted to give a big emphasis on fashion that did right by our planet.

Come 2003 and we put the arrangement in place, and fortunately UNEP was thinking along the same lines.

It took well into the 2010s before we found sustainable designers regularly enough.

It’s important that our commitment continues, as the fast fashion phenomenon has worsened, having been accelerated by social media. Our job is, in part, to make sustainable fashion cool and desirable, as the planet needs us to. We hope others continue to join us on this journey.
Jack Yan is founder and publisher of Lucire.

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