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Phoebe Gates, 21, starts fashion biz with Extinction Rebellion activist, slams ‘conspiracies’ about dad Bill

She just turned 21, is outspoken about the environment, fashion, reinstating Roe vs. Wade and loves posing on TikTok.

And her father is worth $108.9 billion.

Meet Bill Gates’ daughter Phoebe, who combines normal college life with being an outspoken activist who is using her high-society connections to push trendy causes.

On Saturday she was given a spot on stage at the ultra-progressive Global Citizen event in Manhattan’s Central Park —a sign of how she is being seen as a rising star in left-leaning circles — after showcasing a New York Fashion Week bag “collaboration” with designer Stella McCartney.

And the Stanford human biology junior is also making common cause with the controversial Hollywood-funded Extinction Rebellion movement by launching a “sustainable fashion” business with a fellow student who went on a hunger strike for the militant environmental group.

Its members, this month alone, disrupted the US Open and tried to shut down Burning Man.

Phoebe Gates holds a microphone at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park
Getty Images for Global Citizen
Phoebe Gates and Stella McCartney pose with Gates' business partner Sophia Kianni
Stella McCartney / Instagram
Jennifer Gates Nassar, Melinda French Gates and Phoebe Gates
Getty Images for Gates Archive

Gates is the youngest of Bill and his ex-wife Melinda French Gates’ three children, and by far the most outspoken.

The siblings grew up in Medina, Washington in a $131 million mansion. The 66,000 square foot compound supposedly boasts seven bedrooms, 24 bathrooms, six kitchens, a 60-foot pool, 20-car garage, as well as its own man-made beach, at-home movie theater, gym and trampoline room.

Bill and Melinda reportedly waited to divorce until Phoebe graduated high school. 

Her older sister Jennifer, 27, married fellow-equestrian Nayel Nassar in 2021. The couple welcomed their first child in February. Rory, 24, a University of Chicago graduate is notoriously private. 

Bill Gates with Phoebe Gates as a child
The 21-year-old daughter of the Microsoft founder has shared images of them together on her social media.
Phoebe Gates (left) in a family group with her parents and siblings.
Bill Gates dressed as Elvis with his daughter Phoebe

But Phoebe is as comfortable sharing red carpet snaps at events like the Time 100 gala in June 2022, which she attended with her father, as she is discussing abortion rights on social media.

Phoebe used Instagram to strip down to a tiny white bikini on to discuss reproductive rights in the most attention-getting manner possible.

“I’m not shy about my body and/or telling you to keep your bans off of it. Every person deserves access to sexual and reproductive health care,” she wrote in the post in June 2022, days after the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade.

Phoebe and Bill Gates on a red carpet
AFP via Getty Images
Phoebe Gates in a orange-red dress
GC Images

She followed that with a passionate attacking the decision on, then later that summer interned at British Vogue.

Meanwhile one of her TikTok videos, showing her father punching a red ball attached to his forehead, a Christmas present called Boxbollen, has been viewed over 8.7 million times. 

“People have a lot of preconceptions about me, so TikTok has been a chance for me to tell my own story and also use the attention my family name might bring to spotlight issues that are important to me, like women’s health and sustainable fashion,” Gates told The Information earlier this year.

Phoebe Gates' pro-choice Instagram
Phoebe Gates on vacation

But, she said, the downside of her social media profile was “misconceptions and conspiracy theories about my family and my relationship with my boyfriend.”

Her boyfriend, tech founder and Stanford alum Robert Ross, is black. “It’s 2023. I’m done being memed for being in an interracial relationship,” she said.

Her newest venture is a sustainable fashion platform Phia, which will debut later this year and which calls itself “the future of fashion.”

Phoebe Gates and Robert Ross
In an interview earlier this year Gates hit out at being “memed” over her relationship with Robert Ross, her Stanford grad boyfriend, because he is black.
Phoebe Gates and Robert Ross
Ross is a Google-worker turned tech founder which frequently appears on her social media.

Although details are vague, the brand was named after Phoebe and her partner Sophia Kianni. The two met when they were assigned as roommates at Stanford University in 2021.

Kianni is an Iranian-American activist from Fairfax, Va., who has supported Extinction Rebellion, taking part in a hunger strike outside then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office she was 17.

The two launched a collaboration with designer Stella McCartney during the US Open and New York Fashion Week, selling a limited-edition capsule bag collection honoring the Women’s Tennis Association’s 50th anniversary of equal pay. 

Sophia Kianni and Phoebe Gates
Bre Johnson/
Sophia Kianni and Phoebe Gates
Getty Images for Roc Nation

The vegan leather Frayme blush-colored bags were inspired by tennis player Chris Everett dropping her eternity diamond bracelet on the court during the US Open in 1978.

The bags were launched at McCartney’s Greene Street store, with support from Phoebe’s mom and sister, and the brand hinted that more was to come with McCartney, herself a nepobaby, now a mentor to Phia.

Gates wore a multicolored silk slip dress from McCartney’s fall 2023 collection, featuring a printed photograph of a horse taken by Linda McCartney, Stella’s late mother.

The tennis link may have been less comfortable for Kianni. During Coco Gauff’s semi-final match, three eco warriors brought play to a standstill by shouting “end fossil fuels,” and one participant glued his feet to the concrete in protest. 

Activists blockade road to Burning Man
Activists stand up to interrupt the US Open

A source close to Phia was quick to point out that Extinction Rebellion is a decentralized organization, meaning people can’t join or unjoin, and therefore Kianni was never a member.

Gates credits her mother for her activism, especially when it comes to women’s rights. “When you’re Melinda’s daughter, it’s easy to be passionate about reproductive health,” she wrote for Teen Vogue. “My mom is my hero. She’s a brilliant reformer who travels around the world advocating for gender equality.”

Even though Bill and Melinda divorced in 2021—after 27 years of marriage—they still run their global foundation together and are often seen celebrating their family’s milestones. 

Phoebe Gates in a Barbie-inspired dress
BlayzenPhotos / BACKGRID
Phoebe Gates
Getty Images for Kering

For Phoebe’s 21st birthday earlier in September, both parents joined her at Carbone in in Greenwich Village. Phoebe wore a Barbiecore low cut pink mini dress paired with nude heels.

However she appears to have found an unlikely way for a billionaire’s daughter to combine her interest in fashion and the environment: by wearing used clothes.

“I start by searching and filtering by items that have a low-impact on the environment,” she said in an interview about Phia with fashion brand Reformation. “I also try to wear second-hand clothes when I can.”