Eco-Fashionable Friday: Donna Karan Talks Sustainable Fashion and Healthy Living

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by Yoli Ouiya on November 16, 2012

Thanks to the lovely Lara of Pretty Connected, I had a chance to attend the Designers and Books fair at FIT. I choose to attend “Donna Karan Connects the Dots: A Conversation with Valerie Steele” and create an opportunity to ask Donna Karan about sustainable fashion, health, and all things uplifting. Designer Donna Karen established the Urban Zen Foundation in 2007. “Inspired by the philosophies of her late husband, Stephan Weiss, Karan has incorporated his “connecting the dots” theory of art into her philanthropic approach. At Urban Zen, Karan embodies this philosophy through her partnerships with established organizations such as the Clinton Foundation, Grief and Nomad Two Worlds. Urban Zen also also encompasses a clothing line and several stores.”1

In the Q&A session, I asked about her thoughts on the place of sustainability and fair trade in fashion:
“We’ve got to re-engaged the consumer. I think recycling is so important. There are so many clothes out there…I think we need to recycle more & more.”In reference to fair trade and working with fair trade produces, Karan says “I think fair trade is really important. If we develop a consciousness of creativity, we’ll look at the world through a different lens. It is a relationship between both worlds.”

Yoga: “If we all get together and learn how to breathe, we would make this a better planet.” – Donna Karan

Then I got my sit down time with her after a book signing.

With all the work your doing, how do you see health and wellness? How does that fit into the scope of everything you do?
Because you just can’t dress people on the outside; It’s addressing their inside. That you can be beautiful on the outside, but if your not feeling good on the inside, nothing really matters.

Now a lot of people feel like sustainable fashion…there are some people who still feel like it’s crunchy, granola..
Not at all. There’s so much fashion that’s out there. The artistic you comes out truly when out of nothing comes something.

What is your favorite health food?
My green juice. Apple, celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, anything that’s green goes in there.

Why is that your health food of choice?
Because it gets you up on the morning. It’s better than coffee. It gives you energy. It gives you speed. It gives you the feeling of hello I’m here!

1. Designers and Books

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– who has written 337 posts on Yoli's Green Living.

Yoli Ouiya is a Green & Healthy Living Expert, Green Chef, Publisher and Editor in Chief of She is noted as the “Queen of Green” by Black Enterprise Magazine, and currently operates a boutique eco-lifestyle outfit Yoli’s Green Living Group. Black Enterprise included Yoli in its “Top 20 National Bloggers” of 2012, was named ‘Best in Green Living” by, and listed as “Top 17 Black Woman Bloggers to Watch in 2013″ bu With a certification in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell, she offers workshops, lectures, and organizes a variety of eco-chic green themed events in New York. She is currently on the board of directors for The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, a health and nutrition specialist for Harlem Children’s Zone, and co-authoring a book slated for completion Spring 2014.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah November 17, 2012 at 1:59 am

I got to know about Donna Karan through her work with ApParent Project in Haiti. The artisans working for the AP in Port-au-Prince recycle cardboard into not only beautiful jewelry but also into reclaimed lives. I’m grateful for her commitment to sustainability and beauty, “not only on the outside , but the inside” as well.


Leslie Durso December 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I love this interview! I think Donna is a true groundbreaker when it comes to true “eco-fashion”. I love her attitude and outlook on life!


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