by Stephen Garner

Slow Factory Foundation is launching Super Fund, a global fundraiser with a five-year plan that ensures the viability and funding for works at the intersection of Human Rights & Environmental Justice. 

With Super Fund, Slow Factory will fundraise and strategically distribute funds in support of local, grassroots, and independent NGOs on the ground in Beirut first, and later around the world working at the intersection of social and environmental justice. The name of Super Fund is inspired by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program designed to investigate and clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances.

Super Fund was originally slated to launch this fall with a mandate to drive economic might to fund social and environmental justice in the fashion industry, but Slow Factory has accelerated the launch given the August 4th explosion in Lebanon where 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate erupted in the port of Beirut, killing civilians, destroying hospitals and erasing culturally vibrant neighborhoods in Beirut.

Beirut is the home of recognized designers such as Zuhair Murad, Elie Saab, Rabig Kayrouz and many more whose studios have been demolished. Designers, fashion ateliers, libraries and cultural centers have been reduced to rubble. Pillars for Beirut fundraising include immediate humanitarian relief for those out of housing including the elderly, migrant worker relief, food security, city reconstruction, and support for the vulnerable LGBTQ population.

“What happened in Beirut was on top of the existing crises from the global pandemic, to economic collapse where the Lebanese currency lost 80 percent of its value throwing the country at the brink of famine, to the ongoing fight against corruption and political unrest,” said Céline Semaan, founder and executive director of Slow Factory Foundation. “This explosion ignited anger in all of us, the anger and the passion to make a change at every possible scale. What we have identified at Slow Factory is that most help is going to large-scale NGOs, and whether they are international or local in Beirut, very little help is going towards the general public who is directly impacted and who has been instrumental in providing immediate rescue relief, immediate action in cleaning the streets from the rubbles and disaster to coming in support to the elderly, the most vulnerable populations such as the migrant workers stranded in Lebanon, and who are opening their kitchens to feed their neighborhoods. The Super Fund we are launching is dedicated to the communities who are working as though they are their own government.”

To reconcile social and environmental justice in the fashion industry and beyond, Slow Factory will launch a series of education initiatives in the coming months in addition to the distribution of emergency funds for Beirut. The first phase of the program will support designers and creatives whose showrooms and studios are located in the epicenter of the damaged area that are now struggling to survive. In a single moment, their livelihoods, life achievements and businesses disappeared. A first focus of the Super Fund will be this important sector who is receiving no other aid, and reflects Lebanon’s unique culture and a vital industry supporting livelihood and employment. The full list of designers and creatives is Alexandra Hakim, Atelier Nawbar, Aura, Azzi And Osta, Bazaza, Boyfriend, Bureau Des Createurs, Cynthia Raffoul, David And Nicolas, Diane Ferjane, Dianiele Kiridjian, Emergency Room, George Saade, Gray Gardens Studio, Hass Idriss, Jessica K, Krikor Jabotian, Lara Khoury, Larishka, La Terre Est Folle, Margherita, Mariane Bechara, Mellow, Missak Hajavedikian, Mira Hayek, Mukhi Sisters, Passe Ta Gomme, Roni Helou, Sandra Mansour, Sara Melki, Sara Mrad, Sarah’s Bag, Sayyar Garibe, Stephanie Mousallem, Timi Hayek, The Slow, Thym, Urban Sense By Boutique Hub, Vanina, Yassmin Saleh.

Slow Factory partners and collaborators include Adidas, Bolt Threads, Cooper Hewitt, de Young Museum, Eileen Fisher, Fashion Institute of Technology, G Star Raw, Gucci, Harvard Law School, Katharine Hamnett London, Mara Hoffman, MoMA, MIT Media Lab, Noah, Parsons, Phillip Lim, Raeburn, Stella McCartney, Timberland, The Earth Institute of Columbia University, The United Nations for Partnerships, Swarovski, and Waste Management.