New York Fashion Week has been a whirlwind of activity, with models, designers, makeup artists, choreographers, photographers and media outlets all coming together in appreciation of one thing — style.
But this season, Victoria's Secret and L'Oréal model Doutzen Kroes has proven that being an ambassador for a good cause is even more stylish than looking good in clothes. This fashion week, Kroes rallied support for The Elephant Crisis Fund — a joint initiative of Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) to stop the killing, trafficking, and demand for ivory.
"The Knot On My Planet campaign was created as a way to raise awareness for the elephant crisis in Africa through social media channels," Kroes tells A Plus. "And since we traditionally tie a string on our finger to remember something, the knot symbolizes that we mustn't forget the elephants and the crisis they're going through."
According to The Elephant Crisis Fund, at least 33,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks, a practice that continues because of a demand for ivory as a symbol of wealth and prestige in Asia. But the impact of poaching reaches far beyond elephant populations — it is a global crisis.
"Not only does it mean loss of species that represent all that is wild in our history, our stories, our cultures, and our natural world, but it also leads directly to threats to humanity," Elephant Crisis Fund's Jefe Parrish, Ph.D., tells A Plus. "The cartels trafficking in ivory are the same criminals trafficking in guns, drugs, and women and children. These syndicates cause economic, social, and political instability in Africa and beyond — and their links to global crime are irrefutable. It's in the interest of nations far distant from Africa to take these wildlife crimes seriously."
The voices of those in fashion are particularly valued in support of this cause, as Parrish notes this industry is one of the most influential on the planet. "If it [the industry] pounds its fist to say #KnotOnMyPlanet, it can create a tsunami of moral and financial support for elephant protection and influence consumer demand for ivory, helping people from all walks of life see that buying and gifting ivory makes one complicit in a mass wildlife genocide ... The Fashion Industry has extraordinary potential to itself raise funds for elephant protection and to inspire others to donate. Tiffany and Co. is one such business taking immediate action, and we know others are stepping up as well."
Others certainly did step up this fashion week, as many took notice when Kroes tied her knot to symbolize never forgetting the elephants. Joining her in support of The Elephant Crisis Fund were models, designers, photographers, agents, and more, who posted social media photos of themselves tying a knot. Kroes tells us they had over 500,000 impressions in an hour on Instagram, and even Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell reunited for a shoot with Patrick Demarchelier in support of the campaign. "Having them involved — especially when you consider how vocal they have been in raising awareness for countless initiatives in the past — was amazing!" says Kroes.
Kroes says those in fashion have a special connection to elephants because of their longtime use of these animals in photoshoots. "Some of the most iconic images ever shot in fashion by people like Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Peter Beard — the list goes on and on —have featured elephants alongside models. Our involvement now, is a way of remembering those images and those animals."
She adds that the industry has traditionally been an instrument in making change. "Whether it was helping to strip away the stigma of HIV and raising awareness and money to fight AIDS, or supporting gay rights and marriage equality, we have never been shy about speaking out for those who may not have a voice."
When asked what we can do to help, Kroes and Parrish offered great suggestions.
Kroes suggests: "Besides donating, people can talk about poaching to friends and family. They can post on social media. Awareness is extremely powerful — we've learned that from the various HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns over the past three decades. We can encourage people to NOT buy ivory. Stop treating ivory as if it were a luxury item, but realize that every piece of ivory is a symbol of an elephant's slaughter."
Parrish suggests: "Of course, first and foremost, never – ever – buy ivory, and insist it be gone if you ever see it. Second, elephants need protection, and protection requires dollars. Donate to the Elephant Crisis Fund (www.knotonmyplanet.org) and rest assured that 100 cents of your dollar goes directly to the best ideas and most urgent actions to save elephants, implemented by organizations large and small. Finally, spread the word — tie a knot to show you'll never forget elephants and share it and challenge others to take part in a global movement that says: 30,000 elephants killed every year? #KNOTONMYPLANET."
Now, do your part by simply tying a knot in a scarf, shirt, shoelace — anything, to help spread awareness. It's one of the most stylish things you can do this season.