Maybe your eco-social secretary was showing solidarity by Marching with the Penguins and was unable to get you tickets for the NYC eco-event of the season, but last Wednesday, January 26, at Libation – aujourd’hui hotspot in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side – was the scene to be seen at the first ICInyc. Originally planned as an intimate flocking for the NYC eco-conscious elite 400, the ICInyc gathering quickly warmed up to an estimated 1,400 of the NYC eco-striving.
ICI is, oddly enough, not an acronym but simply chosen because it is French for “here” as in “If you are not at this STYLE+SUSTAINABILITY event, then you are not ‘ici.’” A newly-emerging branding and consultancy company, ICI is the green dream of eco-entrepreneurs Chuck Heckman, Josh Dorfman (the Lazy Environmentalist Founder and CEO of Vivavi), and Summer Rayne Oaks. The intent of ICI is to position brands and companies on the “nexus of style + sustainability” and their companies are their first beneficiaries.
Chuck Heckman is the president and designer for the Delano Collection, which promotes itself as being the home of luxury lifestyle brands ranging from sophisticated apparel to furniture and homeware. The Delano Collection still contains only one item of organic clothing, a white wool coat, which was also included in the marketing efforts of the Organic Wool Network. (See our blog entry on the Organic Wool Network.)
Summer Rayne Oaks is well-known within eco-fashion circles as a model and founder of her own branding and consultancy company, SRO llc, which uses her image and contacts as a model to promote eco-fashion and sustainability. Summer Rayne Oaks swept through the ICInyc event wearing what looks like a Deborah Lindquist original. Heckman, Summer and Dorfman are pictured here. One eco-elite reveler, probably after imbibing a few too many hi-octane organic drinks being served, dubbed her outfit “Ecorella – Queen of the Eco Galaxy.”
ICInyc was the first eco-event promoted by the newly formed ICI branding and consultancy company. Those fortunate elite who were there gushed that the eco-event at the hip bar was awash in eco-glamour, eco-talk, imported organic chocolates from Green & Blacks, imported organic wines from Organic Vintners, and organic vodka from Orange V. “Organic vodka” sounds like a wee bit of a theological oxymoron if images of purity, health and the wholeness of consciousness arise when you think of organic. Maybe next year there will be organic tobacco cigarillos.
As a retailer, I am totally green with envy at the marketing brilliance in using environmental issues to promote social change and consumerism. As an environmental and organic advocate for three decades, I am a little green with concern that the underlying message of environmental responsibility is becoming overshadowed by the venue – the medium – in which it is being communicated. Or as Marshall McLuhan pointed out so many years ago “the medium is the message.”
Many eco-entrepreneurs are to be applauded for their efforts to merge environment fervor and eco-conscious commercialism, but we must all be vigilant that the real message of environmentalism and wholeness does not become lost in the marketing. Speaking about consumer motivations and the trend of ethical consumerism, especially in the fashion industry, Thomas Busuttil, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at PPR, the retail and luxury goods company which owns Gucci group, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and the Balenciaga brands, was hauntingly candid when he said “Will it be sustainable, durable behavior that will last, or is it just something trendy right now? For me, it’s still too early to answer that question.”
The answer will depend upon the commitment of each of us.
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