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Three years following the disastrous BP Oil Spill, a project called People for Pelicans strives to help the struggling waterbirds affected by the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Designer Katrin Wiens hopes to transform the image of the pelican into both a style and a political statement.
“There is still this cliché that someone with an activist attitude is a rebel, a punk, a hippie, wearing torn clothes and T-shirts with radical slogans, but that image is no longer true,” says Wiens.
“You can dress elegantly and still care very much about our ecosystem. That’s where nakedheel comes in.” Collaborations between fashion and social activism are often associated with uninspiring T-shirts or tote bags with printed messages, believes Wiens. Made in 100% silk and adorned with elaborate patterns and illustrations drawn by the designer herself, People for Pelicans produces high-quality, digitally printed designs that achieve the chic intersection of haute couture and civic engagement.
Wiens designs socially driven silk scarves and bags to commemorate what some call the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. The economy and well being of the American Gulf Coast, including its magnificent marine wildlife, remain devastated after 4.1 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
People for Pelicans donates 5 percent of its profit to the International Bird Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the Gulf's oiled pelicans and other aquatic birds in emergency situations.
Wiens says that she designs these silk scarves and bags for the elegant activist. She hopes that People for Pelicans reminds us how fortunate we are to be in the position to help those in need, whether it be human beings or animals who cannot speak for themselves. Wiens’ pieces are chic first, with a call to action in the details.
As Wiens puts it, “With People for Pelicans, the ugly truth is made beautiful, and the message meaningful.”