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Remembering Franca Sozzani and Her Dedication To Creating A More Responsible Fashion Industry

by: Courtney Sanders | 3 years ago | News

Franca Sozanni. Image source.

Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, has died, age 66, after battling a year-long-illness, it was reported overnight Australian time.

Sozzani served as the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia for 28 years, and during this time created some of the most innovative visual work in the fashion industry, in turn making Vogue Italia one of the most prestigious fashion magazines in the world.

Sozzani understood the power of fashion to be socially and politically challenging and effecting, and, through her work with legendary photographers including Bruce Weber, Paolo Roversi, and Steven Meisel, commented on issues including but not limited to race, sexuality, and gender equality. For example, Sozanni produced an all-black issue in 2008, which featured only black models, which, considering the ongoing problems with diversity in the fashion industry, would be revolutionary even today. In 2014, motivated by the rise of domestic violence in Italy, Sozanni produced a shoot featuring women running from armed men. As the Guardian noted, Sozanni said “Fashion isn’t really about clothes...It’s about life."

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that she was also an advocate for making the fashion industry supply chain more responsible. In an interview with luxury fashion company Kering's digital magazine in 2013, Sozanni explained the need for perceptions to change around the term ‘ethical fashion’ and how she was attempting to effect positive change via her role as a United Nations' Goodwill Ambassador of 'Fashion 4 Development'; a platform which launched in 2011

“It’s hard to latch onto the notions of sustainable and ethical, because I think there’s still this idea that if something is ecologically correct, the colours are bad and it has to look old, ugly and unfashionable. Which is not at all true.

Being ethical is about respect. As a Goodwill Ambassador, through Fashion for Development I’m very involved in improving conditions in Africa and countries like Bangladesh. Both François-Henri and I are totally committed to women’s rights and responsible development. We believe that for women to have dignity, they need work. For their work, they need a living wage. Sustainability is not only about the ecological aspect. It’s about continuity and what we give back. At Vogue Italy, we were the first to do a ‘zero CO2’ issue. It takes a lot of work to convey the message about what makes something sustainable, and what makes it ethical. If there is no control over women’s quality of life, and if it’s not sustainable, we’re not getting anywhere. These initiatives have to last. It’s a big question for the new generation, but it concerns everyone around the world. If women have work, a project becomes sustainable. Otherwise, it’s a charity.

I’ve been fulfilling this role for three years, and I expect to continue for a long time. But like I said in a recent speech: We’ve accomplished a lot. But it’s not enough. What I am doing now is not totally sustainable yet. We are trying to develop activities in Africa, but we still treat those countries like producers, not like creators. We bring them things to produce. But if my plane goes down one day and I am no longer around to convince designers to produce there, those women – we’ve created jobs for nearly 1,000 in two years – what will they do? If they don’t earn a salary, their children will not go to school. They have to grow where they are.”

From effecting positive change on the ground to challenging redundant social and political stereotypes, then, Franca Sozanni was a maverick of the fashion industry and will be sorely missed. One can hope that the next generation of fashion editors will be inspired to follow in her powerful footsteps.

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