On October 1st, 2014, more than 250 guests arrived at Hotel Americano for an evening of elegance and social consciousness. This event was Mercado Global’s Fashion Forward Gala, which honored actress and activist Kelly Rutherford. The evening began with a selection of the fashion industry’s trailblazers in sustainability discussing the importance of social responsibility in sourcing in textile and clothing industries. Ruth DeGolia, Founder and Executive Director of Mercado Global, led the panel along with FIT’s Assisting Dean of Art and Design Sass Brown, Zady Founder Soraya Darabi, and Anh-Thu Nguyen of MAKE Cosmetics. Each woman brought a unique set of experiences to the discussion as they shared their knowledge on the importance of ethical practices in the fashion industry.

 Fashion Forward VIP Panel – Soraya Darabi, Founder of Zady, Ruth DeGolia, Founder and Executive Director of Mercado Global, Anh-Thu Nguyen, MAKE Cosmetics, and Sass Brown, Fashion Institute of Technology Assisting Dean of Art and Design.

Throughout the evening, guests were given a sneak preview of Mercado Global’s upcoming Spring/Summer ‘15 collection as Mercado’s eye-catching clutches were seen dangling from the arms of many. With a multitude of special guests including Million Dollar Listing NY’s star, Luis D. Ortiz; Fern Mallis, former director of CFDA; Founder of Tommy Boy records, Tom Silverman, and his wife, DJ Donna D'Cruz; philanthropist Yaz Hernandez; Scout Willis; Ten Travis; and designers from Comptoir des Cotonniers, Calypso St. Barth, MILLY, Ralph Lauren, and Vera Wang.

Delia Mendoza, our Guatemalan Programs Director, radiated contentment as she mingled with guests during the course of the night. She presented our honoree, Kelly Rutherford, with an award for her commitment to empowering young women and girls around the world. It was a memorable moment as Kelly, Delia and Ruth all took the stage to share in their combined efforts for social change and partnerships across borders. To share in this moment of appreciation was Mercado Global’s honorary chair, Rodolfo de Rothschild, whose profound dedication and commitment to Mercado’s mission contributed greatly to Fashion Forward’s success.

 Fashion Forward – Ruth DeGolia, Delia Mendoza, and Kelly Rutherford.

Following the award ceremony was the drawing of raffle winners. We would like to thank our many sponsors, who gave such generous donations. Eleven winners were chosen to receive prizes from a wide variety of gift packages, including gift certificates to NY hot restaurant spots such as Flinders Lane, Caracas Arepas Bar, Ceverceria Havemeyer. The “glittering” event, as described by EcoCult, ended with a fabulous performance by Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi band to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month.

Hotel Americano was the ideal location for the event as attendees from all over flooded in with style. Our New York community has helped Mercado Global cross significant thresholds this year – from working with a record number of retailers on sustainable sourcing, such as Anthropologie, Calypso St. Barth, Comptoir des Cotonniers, and Lucky Brand, to bringing work and a sustainable means of living to women in one of the most isolated and economically depressed regions in Latin America. Fashion Forward marked a significant step as we raised awareness around Mercado Global’s mission and also opened the larger discussion of sustainable sourcing practices in the fashion industry.

We look forward to an exciting new year with sustained retail partnerships and new partners. Our deepest gratitude to everyone who attended Fashion Forward and made it the memorable evening that it was.