Elegantees: Fighting Sex Trafficking with Fashion
|1/28/2013||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
By Rebekah Savage
In Nepal, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) estimate that 10,000-15,000 Nepali women and girls are forced into sex trafficking and a lifetime of involuntary servitude.
The members of International Justice Mission (IJM) at William Woods University make it their mission to combat such violations of another’s rights. They plan to raise funds for their cause with an Elegantees Fashion Show at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 in Dulany Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
Katie Martinez, fashion designer and founder of Elegantees, is giving Nepalese women rescued from trafficking a second chance. The women sew the clothing, and the profits from the sales go toward income for the women and “to good-hearted people and charities who fight for freedom,” she said.
Fashions modeled at the show will be available for purchase afterward. All profits will go toward helping trafficking victims.
“We want to make this fashion show BIG—with photographers and music and lights,” Kristen Withrow, president of IJM at William Woods, said.
WWU students will fill the roles of models, photographers, stage hands, disc jockeys, salespersons and greeters.
Martinez traveled to Nepal in January to work with the women sewing her new designs for the spring/summer tops. While in Nepal, she created a video of the women sewing the clothes. The video will be played at the fashion show.
After growing up on a beef farm in Iowa, Martinez moved to New York City at 18 and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. In college, she took a class that introduced her to human trafficking. Distraught by what she learned, Martinez felt a desire to make a difference.
While working in the New York garment district, Martinez found it difficult to locate modest, affordable clothing. She became inspired to design fashion that she herself would choose to wear. In 2010, Elegantees was born.
“My aim was to use my talents to give hope and dignity to sex-trafficked victims,” she said.
Elegantees, which Martinez describes as “elegant designs as easy to wear as a tee-shirt,” has come a long way since. Her 2013 collection is in development, being sewn in Nepal.
“I am living out my dream. As each Elegantee is purchased, one tee or one dress at a time, I rejoice knowing this business is for fighting evil and restoring dignity,” she said. “It’s all for things bigger than my own dream.”
Elegantees fashions will be modeled at a fashion show sponsored by International Justice Mission at William Woods University.
A Nepalese woman rescued from trafficking sews fashions for Elegantees.