Samata’s commitment to sustainability cuts across many areas from fashion to self-care, from education to women’s rights. As a designer and the vice president of Red Carpet Green Dress, an initiative started by Suzy Amis Cameron to encourage celebrities to wear ethical designs on the Oscars red carpet, she understands the necessity of using fashion to telegraph the importance of environmental conservation.
Samata sat down for fifteen minutes with The Frontlash to talk in more detail about her many projects including The Tribe, a global women’s empowerment collective, and what brings her joy.
How does the first Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) you worked on compare to now?
So much has changed since I came on board in 2011! In the beginning, we struggled to get talent on board because they had a very limited perception of what sustainability could look like. We also struggled with the brands—to get them to understand what they could use, and to encourage them to see what was possible using sustainable inputs.
I have to credit Vivienne Westwood for being an early adapter and collaborator in our movement from day one. Things have changed immensely, now brands, talent, and partners are approaching us wanting to be part of the movement. I have also seen a shift in how brands are genuinely interested in finding eco resources, and how they can implement more sustainable practices within their brands.
Then you have labels like AMUR or Reformation, who are consistently making sustainability cooler, chicer, and more accessible. We do have a long way to go, but I am inspired by the direction of change. At the Oscars this year, with Danielle Macdonald and Laura Harrier as our ambassadors in Christian Siriano and Louis Vuitton respectively, we had so much buzz around our sustainable statements and for us this is an exciting sign of the times.
Why do you think a platform like the Oscars is an important place to highlight sustainable fashion?
The world is watching that red carpet, in fact it’s literally the most watched televised event after the Super Bowl. We want to propel these conversations into the forefront and keep the spotlight on sustainability in a space where fashion trends are dictated and debuted. Sustainability should be taking place in sustainable spaces because real strides can be made there, but it needs to happen in the mainstream too. In green spaces, you are very much preaching to the choir.
What hopes do you have for the future of RCGD?
Red Carpet Green Dress has just celebrated 10 years, and it’s so exciting. Suzy Amis Cameron and her husband James Cameron (director of Titanic and Avatar) have been involved in environmental causes, protecting the planet and its precious resources for a long time. In a nutshell, we create ethical fashion for the Oscars red carpet each year, and have been fortunate enough to work with brands from Tesla and Armani across to Reformation and Vivienne Westwood. To date our conversation has been focused on the red carpet once a year, but we have some great initiatives coming to ensure this dialogue continues all year around. Right now we have a capsule collection launched with AMUR selling online and through Bloomingdales, and this is really just the beginning.
I’d love to know more about your newest endeavor, The Tribe, what is it?
In July 2016 I launched ‘The Tribe’, which started out as a women’s only event and collective to bring together and celebrate women from various industries. Women in the public eye are often celebrated and acknowledged, but I want to celebrate women who aren’t in the public eye too. Beyond the events, we are starting conversations—mainly online—with other women who are also fed up with this feeling of “never-enoughness,” the idea that there is always this next thing they should be aiming for in life. Incredibly we have thousands of women supporting the movement online and a growing number signing up to come to our events with us. A few months ago we launched The Tribe Empowerment Journal, and I am so excited about it! My purpose with the journal is to change the way women around the world see and think about themselves, for the better.
Why was creating The Tribe important to you?
I wanted to make a positive change. Women feeling good about who they already are is important to me because I feel so often we are reminded why we aren’t enough—it’s one thing after the other and keeping your head up is hard sometimes. I really poured a lot of heart and soul into creating The Tribe Empowerment Journal for that reason, and the process helped me along the way!
How does your work in the celebrity and red carpet space inform your work on The Tribe?
I am genuinely surrounded by people achieving so many great things and actually changing and entertaining the world! Yet even in those spaces, it’s so important to remind ourselves that we are enough and to remind ourselves of all that has already been achieved. I created The Tribe initially as a space for women to be reminded of who they already are and celebrated as such, but it has grown into way more—we fundraise, we develop empowering products, it’s growing. My vision is for it to become a global movement and brand, and also to bring together female warriors who support each and help each other to navigate challenges or problems—emotionally but also tangibly—with work and resources.
What tips do you have for women who are looking for a tribe of their own for support?
You know in the journal there is a whole section about this specifically which asks readers if they are in a “tribe” or a “clique.” As it says in there, we know the difference. If your group gets together to discuss ways to empower, encourage, share struggles, and ways to overcomewith the aim to rebuild and restore, if you are able to feel better through acknowledging your own fabulousness without feeling outshined by the fabulousness of others, you are in a tribe. If you seek to destroy, discredit, pass judgements without experience, foster jealousy, and encourage backbiting, shy away from direct conversation but whisper fiercely in the shadows, that you are in a clique. We researched and worked on ways to help women turn their groups of women they have around them into tribes.
What brings you the most joy?
Years ago I would have said achieving my goals, now I would say this still but also spending time with my family. Being a mum has given me so much joy I can’t really describe. It has greatly motivated my partner and I to create a space where our son has options and choices in his life.
What do you do to inspire creativity?
Travel, appreciate life, listen to my inner voice and just begin. One idea might evolve into another, but for me, the secret is to just start and try.
Cover Photo: Jose Perez
Words told to: Laura Jones