Phoebe Dahl Talks Fashion, Female Empowerment And Education For Sustainable Fashion Month

Designer Phoebe Dahl On How Your Fashion Choices Can Help Educate Young Girls

This feature is part of a month-long focus around sustainable fashion across HuffPost UK Style and Lifestyle. Here we aim to champion some of the emerging names in fashion and shine a light on the truth about the impact our appetite for fast fashion has around the world.

Phoebe Dahl is a 26-year-old like no other. She’s the founder of a mighty feminist fashion brand, she’s engaged to Ruby Rose, and she’s a descendent of iconic author Roald Dahl.

Just one glance at her Instagram will leave you inspired to change the world, and that's exactly what she's setting out to do.

Dahl's clothing line, Faircloth & Supply, is fashion with a conscience. For every item sold, a uniform will be donated to a girl in Nepal, enabling her to go to school and get an education.

There are 67 million children out of school in Nepal, and over half of them are girls, leaving a 30% gender gap in the literacy rates a direct result. But that's going to change -- Faircloth & Supply is paving the way for the future.

The beautifully minimal designs echo Dahl's own relaxed style, which has been inspired by years of travelling and working as a designer.

She's part of the fashion gamechangers, who are proving that sustainable fashion doesn't have to sacrifice form and style. As a side project, her altruism also extends to animal rescue - she and Rose have begun their own fashion line called The Scallywags, which donates part of the profits to help abandoned pets.

But how did she get on this particular path?

After studying fashion photography at the London College of Fashion, Dahl worked with a designer in Amsterdam who took her on a business trip to Tokyo. During that trip, Dahl said that she saw a "completely different side to fashion.”

"There were girls wearing big linen dresses with jeans underneath and espadrilles shoes. I became fascinated by linen fabrics and how versatile and beautiful they were.

"After Tokyo we went to India, and it was my first time being in a developing country, which was an inspiring experience.

"I returned to Amsterdam and continued to work as a design assistant. After work I would go home and sew samples and go on weekend trips to Belgium and Paris to look for different linen fabrics. In December 2013 I finally decided to move back to LA and start working on my own line full time."

Dahl with the girls she's helping

And so Faircloth & Supply was born. “I knew I wanted to do a fashion conscience clothing line,” said Dahl, but finding the right charity to support was a challenge.

"I've always been passionate about lots of different topics, from sex trafficking to animal rights and environmental issues. One night, I had a friend over who was working on a documentary called Girl Rising.

"The entire thing was about the importance of educating girls in third world countries. I was so inspired I felt like a fish to water, and I knew I had to get involved with this issue. It was what I should be doing."

After searching far and wide for an organisation to team up with, Dahl was introduced to the General Welfare Pratisthan (GWP), whose mission is to create an organised, self-reliant society, free from the social and economic disparities of gender inequality.

"I have always been very drawn to and inspired by south east Asia. I came to learn that girls in Nepal are unable to attend school without uniforms and GWP were very supportive of my 'one for one' vision.

"We were able to make it possible that every time a Faircloth & Supply dress sells a girl in Nepal gets a school uniform."

This amazing tote bag is now sold out

The benefits of girls getting an education are more than just academic. GWP state that girls who receive education are less vulnerable to HIV, human trafficking and other forms of social and economic exploitation. They're more likely to marry later and raise children who will go to school themselves.

"I really believe that a nation cannot move forward if 50% of its population is left behind. At this point, 50% of Nepal's population is women, and they're being left behind," said Dahl.

Dahl in Nepal

"I do what I do because I have seen, first hand, the difference that educating girls in these communities makes. It's interesting to speak to their mothers and see how proud they are to see their daughters going to school and hear how differently they grew up and the oppression they faced."

So far, Faircloth & Supply has helped 2,500 girls in Nepal receive uniforms and help them to get the education they deserve.

The proudest moment for Faircloth & Supply came during Dahl's most recent trip. "I was able to visit the schools and actually hand out uniforms and scholarships to the girls," she said.

"Just seeing how happy and appreciative the girls were was so amazing and surreal. They would receive their uniforms and run outside to put them on, some of the girls were throwing on their uniforms right in the room they were so excited.

"It was an amazing moment and I was finally able to see the positive impact Faircloth & Supply’s program is bringing to these girls lives."

So what's for the future of Faircloth & Supply? Dahl says she wants to implement Faircloth & Supply's program in other countries.

"I just want to continue to help girls build confidence and empower them through education."

HuffPost UK Lifestyle is running a special series around Sustainable Fashion for the month of September. Livia Firth is creative director of Eco-Age and founder of The Green Carpet Challenge, and will be guest editing on 18 September. If you'd like to blog or get involved, please email us.


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