The Power of Style: Style for Social Change

The Power of Style: Fashion's New Philanthropists Rachel Roy and Mary Alice Stephenson

Throughout the years, VT has been focused not only on promoting style, but also cultivating the mind-body-soul connection. It’s not the dress, but what’s in the dress, that matters. That’s why when I was invited to “The Power of Style: Style for Social Change” with our friend Mary Alice Stephenson and Rachel Roy, I was in (despite feeling super jetlagged after seeing a client in San Francisco that same morning!).

The Power of Style: Fashion's New Philanthropists Rachel Roy and Mary Alice Stephenson

Mary Alice Stephenson, Jane Larkworthy and Rachel Roy. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images

The talk, moderated by Jane Larkworthy, Beauty Director at Wwas incredibly inspiring, and I loved that it felt like an open forum where Mary Alice (founder of GLAM4GOOD and former fashion director and editor of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Allure, to name a few) and Rachel (a designer with Michelle Obama among her clientele) discussed how fashion and philanthropy have come together in their lives. The two women, powerful and beautiful inside and out, shared their examples of using style for social change – from empowering third world artisans by giving them jobs and fighting bullying with a cool t-shirt campaign (Rachel Roy), to granting fashion wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions through Make-A-Wish Foundation (Mary Alice).

“I Don’t Date Bullies” T-shirt by Rachel Roy

What’s really great is that they empower people in the industry to really stand up and use their passion and knowledge of fashion to get involved in social issues.

Mary Alice Stephenson, Jane Larkworthy, Beauty Director at W, Rachel Roy

Mary Alice Stephenson, Jane Larkworthy and Rachel Roy. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images

It was an a-ha moment for me: it’s very enlightening to find people who are on the same path of combining style and philanthropy to empower women.  As someone who had little support early on in my career, being told that there are no truly good people in the industry, I was once again reassured that there are great people in fashion doing great things.

Jesse Garza at The power of style FIAF

Jesse thanking the panel. Photo by Michael George

Empowerment is the goal of FEELIN’ IT (a new column in our blog), and our next venture will be giving style seminars to underprivileged honor students selected from public NYC High Schools through Get Reel With Your Dreams Foundation this May. Stay tuned for more! -Jesse