On Saturday night, G-Star Raw hosted a press conference in the American Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean life. Their news: A collaboration with Bionic Yarn, the innovative fabric company that makes wearable textiles out of recycled materials. Together for fall ’14, G-Star and Bionic have created Raw for the Oceans, a collection of jeans and knitwear made from plastic bits and bags. Their big-picture goal, supported by Parley for the Oceans and Project Vortex, is to help turn something useless (i.e. our garbage) into something of value: if plastic can be made into great jeans, then that presents a compelling incentive for countries and companies to support its recovery from our seas, right? Totally.

Pharrell Williams is the creative director of Bionic, so you can imagine the cool crowd at the event. What you maybe can’t imagine – and what we definitely didn’t imagine before attending – is just how vast the amount of plastic that pollutes our oceans really is, and just how many millions of animals die from ingesting it. During the hour-long conference, a handful of speakers including filmmaker David LaChapelle, Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Dr. Iain Kerr of the Ocean Alliance spoke to how vital the health of our oceans is to human existence. “If the oceans die, we die,” Captain Paul said. It got a little graphic. Rarely does a fashion week event bring us to tears (maybe the Marc Jacobs fall 2007 show?), but there we were, welling up.

Cheers to G-Star, Bionic, and Parley for initiating a change in the denim industry that’s not about fit or trend, but about moving sustainable style forward; for taking a risk ethically, not just aesthetically. “I’m learning as much as you guys are,” Pharrell told the audience of his experience working on the project. “I applaud G-Star because they’re a force in fashion, they don’t have to do this, but they just jumped behind what [Bionic founders] Tim [Coombs] and Tyson [Toussart] have done. They turned on the turbo boost buttons…and look at this room full of people.” G-Star plans to continue incorporating more Bionic fabrics into all of their products in the seasons and years to come. “So next year maybe it’ll be a little bit more jubilant,” Pharrell said hopefully. We’ll tip the hip Smokey-the-Bear hat to that.