An entrepreneurial animal activist has recruited designers from the TV series Project Runway for a campaign to raise awareness and save 12 endangered species from extinction.
"If one does not know about an animal's existence, one cannot save it from extinction," Cornell University veterinary student and activist Gabby Wild told Raw Story.
While animal rights groups like PETA have been highly critical of the fashion industry, Gabby hopes to use eco-friendly outfits to engage the public about animal conservation. Her "12 in 12 for 12" campaign aims to highlight 12 different endangered animals for 12 months through original outfits created by up-and-coming fashion designers, including eight Project Runway contestants.
The outfit for April, for instance, was designed by Kristin Haskins Simms from Project Runway using organic cotton, waterproof stretch lycra, metallic mesh and recycled brass buttons. It represents the Ganges River Dolphin. (See above.)
"The main demographic that tends to donate most to animals is women," Gabby explained to Raw Story.
"I also find that women feel empowered by fashion. Thus in a way to integrate the two fields, I created '12 in 12 for 12' so that women could be intrigued by fashion and then delve into the meaning behind representing animals in that chosen artform: saving these creatures from extinction."
"It is not yet truly a mindset to wear 'green' clothing, and thus in an effort to aid animals by saving their environments, I thought it absolutely necessary to be a figure of eco-fashion."
The twelve outfits will represent the Amur Leopard, Bactrian Camel, Purple Frog, Ganges River Dolphin, Blue Morpho Butterfly, Red Panda, Giant Chinese Salamander, Dwarf Rondo Galago, Asian elephant, Kakapo Parrot, Sumatran Tiger, and Red Wolf. Gabby hopes the campaign will raise a total $120,000 -- or $10,000 per animal.
"If we cannot meet our goal, there is a high chance that some of these animals will go extinct," Gabby warned.
The campaign raises money through sponsorships from companies, the sale of eco-friendly merchandise, donations, and the auction of the 12 outfits.
The money raised will go to the Kakapo Recovery in New Zealand, the Ya'axche Conservation Trust in Belize, the Red Wolf Coalition in the U.S., and the Zoological Society of London's EDGE of Existence Programme. All of the organizations are involved in saving the 12 endangered animals.
"In order to aid the animals, research programs and conservationists must be out in the field with the animals," Gabby explained. "I am only one person and obviously cannot do so for each animal, though I do a significant amount of work directly with Asian elephants.
"I am basically the voice for the animals to help their plight, while [these organizations] receive the funds to do what needs to physically be done to save them from extinction. Using both my conservationist and veterinary knowledge, I help bring about awareness, which then allows us to raise the funds so that these extremely capable scientists from the four organizations can save each of these animals."
Photo credit: Ken Kawamoto