There is a new place in London, a members club, that is making plans to become home to those passionate about change. Officially opening its doors on 11th October 2018, the Conduit club has been beckoning those with a passion for social activism for a while now, so think sustainable designers, policy makers, ethical investors etc. With an impressive board that includes youth activist and entrepreneur Jeremiah Emmanuel, Amnesty International’s Salil Shetty and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, I do wonder whether Conduit club is the kind of setting where much-needed change in industries like fashion can be made.
A Community Where Knowledge and Experience is Shared
Founded by Paul Van Zyl, a South African human rights lawyer and US sustainable investment entrepreneur Rowan Finnegan, the Conduit is a six-storey townhouse boasting sophisticated spaces where movers and shakers can discuss how they can bring about social and environmental change. “Everybody has been saying, why didn’t this exist already?” Paul told Vogue. Rowan added. “People are yearning for community, to find people who they have something in common with, or [who] they can learn something from or be inspired by.”
With impressive interior accessories made from recycled materials, ceramic vases fired and glazed in Pretoria’s Mamelodi Township, complex angora tapestry created by a collective of Swazi women and chairs by Coventry social enterprise Sitting Firm, the club’s main mingling spots include a bar, cafe, library and a restaurant overseen by Michelin-starred chef Merlin Labron-Johnson.
Promising to become the place to see and be seen, I must admit that there are two things that I have found to be the most intriguing about Finnegan and van Zyl’s venture, they are the inclusion of a concept store that introduces over 50 sustainable fashion and beauty brands, that include Bethany Williams, Alice Lee, Bite, Oshadi, Mother of Pearl and MiH. The second being the discussions that are planned to be held there. For example, for the opening weekend, Sarah Ditty, policy director at the not-for-profit Fashion Revolution, will be discussing how blockchain technology will transform the industry; jewellery expert Vivienne Becker will be chairing a panel including Pippa Small, Vieri and Swarovski to ask “Who Made My Jewellery?” and artisanal fashion designer Alice Lee will be hosting a mask-making workshop. Vogue reports that throughout the year, members will have access to over 150 events, with contributions from partners including the Nature Conservancy, TEDxLondon, and the New York Times.
With plans to build a global a community, Finnegan and van Zyl are looking to set up shop in various cities around the world, making it easier for people to come together in a space where they can discuss bringing about positive change. Lastly, I do hope that the board considers members from various backgrounds, and by this I mean those who do not fit the ‘white and middle-class’ mould usually associated with this kind of social activism. Not wanting to name drop, but I will, I think people like Natsai Audrey Chieza are the kind of game changers who could be great additions to this well-heeled and connected movement.