Cotton Lecture Series

Join us in a series of thought-provoking discussions revolving around the fashion industry; from cotton sustainability, supply chain, workers right and the craft economy. This event is funded by Cotton Incorporated through a project led by Dr. Jiyoung Kim, Dr. Haejin Gam and Barbara Trippeer.

Craft Economy: Working with People, not Labor
Leslie Robertson: Textile Consultant and Founder of Mekeka

Craft Economy: Working with People, not Labor


COVID-19's impact on workers and our planet
Ayesha Barenblat, Founder & CEO at Remake and Elizabeth Cline, Author of “Overdressed” and Journalist

  • Date: 10/1/2020 Thurs


Beyond the Farm Gate: Moving up the Cotton Supply Chain
Jeffrey Silberman, Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)


Farm-2-Fashion and 15 Years of FIT Denim
Jeffrey Silberman, Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)

  • Date: 10/2/2020 Friday
  • 1:00-2pm (CDT) “Farm-2-Fashion and 15 Years of FIT Denim” (about 30-45 minutes + Q&A)


About the Speakers


Lesli Robertson is an interdisciplinary textile consultant and project developer who partners with local and international organizations to develop impactful engagement through interactive programs. She has recently worked on projects supported by USAID, the Smithsonian Institution, and Fulbright Specialist program, taking her to countries as diverse as Kuwait, Armenia, Uganda, and Ghana. She launched Mekeka Designs in 2018, creating bespoke textile collections with artisans in Uganda. As a former faculty at the University of North Texas, she spent more than a decade teaching textile and visual arts approaches while developing national and international community programs and opportunities.

Ayesha (@abarenblat) is a social entrepreneur with a passion for building sustainable supply chains that respect people and our planet. With over a decade of leadership to promote social justice and sustainability within the fashion industry, she founded Remake to ignite a conscious consumer movement. Remake’s films, stories and immersive journeys rebuild human connections with the women who make our clothes. Ayesha is passionate about where things come from, who made them and what their lives are like. She has worked with brands, governments, and labor advocates to improve the lives of the women who make our clothes.

She led brand engagement at Better Work, a World Bank and United Nations partnership to ensure safe and decent working conditions within garment factories around the world. She was head of consumer products at BSR, providing strategic advice to brands including H&M, Levi Strauss & Co., Marks and Spencer, Nike, The Walt Disney Company and Pou Chen on the design and integration of sustainability into business. She holds a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Elizabeth L. Cline is a New York-based author, journalist, and expert on consumer culture, fast fashion, sustainability and labor rights in the apparel industry.

Cline’s critically acclaimed 2012 expose, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, was first to reveal the impacts of fast fashion on the environment, economy, and society and is a founding book of the modern global ethical and sustainable fashion movement. Overdressed is still read around the world in seven languages and included on the curriculum of numerous leading universities. Cline’s much-anticipated follow-up book, The Conscious Closet: A Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, was published in August of 2019 by Penguin Random House [ORDER HERE]. In it, Cline delves into fresh research on fashion’s impacts and illustrates how consumers and fashion lovers can leverage our everyday choices to transform the apparel industry and change the world for the better. 

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Jeffrey Silberman served as consultant to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Secretariat, and as Executive Director to the International Forum for Cotton Promotion (IFCP). He is an international textile consultant specializing in natural fiber development and demand enhancement strategy. He is the co-owner of Maple Shade Farm in Katonah, NY, that produces natural fibers and dyes for academic research. He designed and implemented natural fiber and textile development programs in more than fifteen countries, including Turkey, India, Armenia and Nepal; linen development programs throughout Russia, including the Vologda, Kaluga, Kostroma, and Yaroslavl oblasts; cashmere identity for the Mongolian Cashmere FibreMark Society in Ulaanbaatar. Mr. Silberman was a core member of the team that developed and launched the Egyptian Cotton Logo and Promotion Program (CottonEgypt) for the Government of Egypt.