"The most beautiful ambassador for our environment."
~ Jolie Magazine
Vanity Far. Apr 2008. Global Citizen. Photographer: Norman Jean Roy
Oakes is not just some hottie manufactured by a team of advertisers and consultants. She’s a Cornell grad who majored in Natural Resources and spent years writing papers about sewage sludge. After graduating, she decided to take her passions out of academia and into the real world. Oakes now has her own think tank and consulting company, a television show in the works, a book series about green living, and a calendar booked solid with speaking engagements.
Jolie Magazine. Dec 2010. Photographer: Seth Karecha
The most beautiful ambassador for our environment is perhaps model Summer Rayne Oakes. She works in the environmental sciences, represents numerous environmentally-minded brands, and in February released her book, “Style, Naturally,” featuring more sustainable beauty and fashion labels.
Summer Rayne Oakes is not your typical model. She had an unusual childhood, practically raising herself from the age of 13, until she went to college...In another time she would have been described as a girl with real “moxy.” Known as the “Eco Model,” Oakes works to perpetuate sustainability in the fashion industry, and she has been doing it for ten years.
Outside Summer Rayne's Brooklyn home. Photography by: Anouk Morgan. Vice Magazine & Collectively.org October 2014.
I looked at the fashion industry as the absolute antithesis of the environmental issues I stood for. But that was before I knew much about it...I went into this industry knowing, that if I were to work in it, it would HAVE to fit my value system.
Summer Rayne Oakes is on a mission to transform the $300 billion fashion industry into a model of sustainability. In an industry often criticized for its excess and exploitation, Oakes is an anomaly. She’s an Ivy League-educated model, as well as a scientist who sees entrepreneurship as a means to fight for the environment. Her newest venture, Source4Style, launched earlier this year. The web-based business offers designers a place online to buy eco-friendly, sustainable fabrics.
INC Magazine. Dec 2010. Part Guru, Part Glamour, and Fully Sustainable
L'Uomo Vogue. Eye on Green. 2013.
With a background in Entomology at Cornell, Oakes is the principal model for environmental responsibility. She authored the best-selling book, “Style, Naturally” and appeared in the famous Pirelli Calendar shot by Steve McCurry.
I met Summer Rayne in New York before the shoot and I instantly knew we had to have her. In addition to being striking and beautiful and charming, she’s also very intelligent and passionate about her work with the environment. She’s so articulate, so she was one of several perfect choices.
Pirelli Calendar 2013. Summer Rayne Oakes. Photographer: Steve McCurry
Let’s start with some stereotypes, awful as they are. Summer Rayne Oakes looks like a model...Now flip it around. To hear her speak, she definitely doesn’t sound like a model. She sounds like someone who should be taking center stage at the UN Climate Change Conference, (which she is speaking at I find out). She is a marketer’s dream: gorgeous, astute, enthusiastic and eloquent. But she’s not going to push anyone else’s issues because she’s already doing a brilliant job of pushing her own.
Lifescape Magazine. Photographer: Ninelle Efermova
Our altruistic passions can become our career. And while we may not understand the path to create this, it is possible to use ingenious ideas and passionate activism to impact the world. Because where integrity and inspiration meet is the key to successful social entrepreneurship, and a business, without a doubt, can be built around a passion when one puts a value on principles and knowledge. Summer Rayne Oakes has proved just that, finding her niche in the sphere of environmental sustainability and creating a profession without losing the soul of convictions.
Cake & Whiskey Magazine. June 2013. Photographer: JAG Studios
Meet Summer Rayne Oakes., sustainability strategist and fashion model. When she’s not in front of the camera, she’s designing organic bedding for Portico Home, launching her 10th season of environmentally-friendly footwear, Zoe & Zac, or acting as the contributing editor to the illustrious magazine Above. Her latest venture is Source4Style, an online business-to-business marketplace whose mission is to make sustainable design possible by allowing designers and brands access to a network of global suppliers.
Glo Magazine. 2010. Photographer: Marko Cecic-Karuzic
Summer Rayne Oakes isn’t your average model. Or your average scientist. Or even your average fashion designer. In fact, there really isn’t anything average about her at all. Originally an environmental science major at Cornell, Oakes realized that the best way to inspire change was through what we wear.
Nylon Magazine. 2009. The Insider: Science nerd turned shoe designer.
Peppermint Magazine. 2011. Photographer: Robert August
With a promising career in the field of ecology, Oakes did a total 180. She stayed in college, but took her precocious environmental activism and 5’10” frame in the fashion industry to push sustainability mainstream.
These days when she’s not traveling or working on her sustainable design projects, Summer Rayne finds comfort in the company of plants, 200 of which she has cultivated in her Brooklyn apartment. In an effort to bring some of the “outside in,” she has turned her space into a green oasis with plans to convert her closet into an edible garden.
Ask model Summer Rayne Oakes to describe East African nation Mozambique and she’ll tell you...and though the 5’10” Brooklynite can rock a bikini, she’s not rolling in the African surf for SI’s next swimsuit issue—she’s at the Mezimbite Forest Centre, a community workshop in the desperately poor central Sofala Province, run by her South African colleague, Allan Schwarz.
People who laugh together, stick together. At the Mezimbite Forest Centre, Sofala Province, Mozambique. Photography by: Esther Havens
Seventy-five percent of the forest has been obliterated by foreign loggers, so we plant and train locals to create high quality housewares out of stump wood.
Direct TV Magazine. 2008.
Advocate and fashion model Summer Rayne Oakes has found herself in some precarious situations lately. She’s dangled off the edge of a 250-foot windmill in Abilene, TX, filmed the “Trash Vortex”—an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas full of trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—and inhaled deeply on a methane farm. This whirlwind tour of the world’s most amazing environmental stories is all in a day’s work for the aptly named activist.
Summer Rayne Oakes loves to move. When we meet for a coffee in Union Square, Manhattan, she has just run over the Williamsburg Bridge and is planning a short gym session to do a bit of strength training before she makes her way back to the greenhouse that is her home.
The Food Life. Dec 2014. Sweet Sugar-Free Dreams
I think there’s something on a very cellular level that happens when we commune with nature—it’s so calming. The way people react [to being in nature], it’s like there’s this knowing, this familiarity, like meeting a person for the first time who you’re strangely familiar with.”
When you walk into Summer’s top-floor Williamsburg apartment, the thing you’ll notice first is the plants. And then: the plants. Seriously, there are plants everywhere. Summer’s home exists in a kind of liminal state: neither outdoor nor indoor, it has all the lush richness of a jungle, with all the insouciant style of the most stylish Brooklyn apartment.
I think the only way that I’ve been able to survive in New York is by surrounding myself with plants.
For 11 years, Oakes has lived in a 1,200-square-foot converted industrial space in Williamsburg, which is filled with 500 plants, including a living wall, an irrigated vertical garden constructed out of mason jars, and, in a closet garden, edible plants ranging from the familiar (herbs, greens) to the exotic (a pineapple plant, curry leaves...Although Oakes studied environmental science in school, her love of agriculture goes back further than that..
I would like to carry this [plant obsession] on into the future by getting a plot of land in the community garden, continuing gardening indoors and inspiring others to garden.