“I wanted to create a platform that not only educates but also inspires.”
Ayesha Barenblat founded Remake with a mission to create a more transparent fashion industry. And over the past six years, the nonprofit (a “community of fashion lovers, women’s rights advocates and environmentalists,” according to its website), has made major strides. Its brand directory rates fashion companies based on what they are doing to reduce their environmental impact and create a fairer supply chain.
But she’s not just there to call out the biggest players in the industry for not keeping pace with societal change. With Remake, Ayesha Barenblat also hopes to educate. “If we’re continually yelling at people and making them feel bad about their buying habits, we’re not going to move the needle – guilt and shame can only get you so far. Remake is very ingrained in love because I believe that is where change happens. I really see it as a life calling and not just a job.
In honor of Earth Month, FASHION spoke to Barenblat about what inspired her to create Remake and her favorite sustainable brands.
What was the turning point for you to see the fashion industry differently?
I grew up in Pakistan and saw mass production firsthand. But it was around the time that I was working at the UN on a program called Better Work — which brought together brands, governments and unions to address working conditions within the fashion system — that the Rana Plaza Clothing Factory collapsed and I reached a turning point. It remains one of the most significant industrial disasters of our time; no one should have to die for fashion.
What triggered the creation of Remake?
For me, Remake was the next embodiment of my job at the UN. I was trying to improve the industry from within, and I realized that we needed to build a community of ordinary people who care about these issues. I wanted to create a platform that not only educates but also inspires.
What is the brand of Remake phone bookand what factors go into the calculation of each ranking?
The idea behind our brand directory was to be an industry watchdog. Rather than encouraging rash purchases, we arm our readers with knowledge so they can make more informed choices and hold the industry more accountable. There’s so much greenwashing going on, and many in our community didn’t know which brands were actually sustainable and ethical, so we developed a neutral way of looking at retailers and rating them with an eye to environmental justice and sustainability. human rights. We want to know if brands do more good and less harm. We look at everything from wages and water conservation to where their products are made and then thrown away.
What type of feedback have you received from brands listed in the directory?
We’re not about cancel culture – we share our scores with brands first, then have a conversation about their rating. But the responses have been mixed, to be sure. There are wonderful smaller, locally produced designers who are so grateful that we promote them. But some of the biggest retailers are more interested in improving their score than having a conversation about how to improve the industry.
Has your work influenced your style?
Absolutely! I think what sets me apart from other activists is that I like fashion: I criticize something I like just to make it better. I’ve always prided myself on having a unique style based on my Pakistani-American background, and through my work I’ve become more creative with my outfits. I buy very few new clothes; instead, I reuse what’s already in my closet by mixing and matching pieces.
Click through the gallery below to see Ayesha Barenblat’s favorite sustainability-focused fashion brands.
This article first appeared in THE FASHION April issue. Learn more here.