That’s really great. So why is sustainable fashion so important?
Most consumers only care about clothes being cute and cheap, and not about the environmental and human impact that goes into making those clothes. This lack of attention to the process behind the clothes hanging in our closets is really problematic, as it contributes to climate change and the ongoing exploitation of workers.
It’s interesting to me that people think taking sustainability into account when they buy clothing isn’t important, and that we can continue to treat people and the planet poorly, and these choices won't matter in the long run. But we are seeing already how the choices we make are catching up to us through the effects of climate change, and our changing world.
I’ve learned that committing to only buying sustainable and ethical fashion is a way to stand up for what I believe is right. I think it’s really important to know who makes our clothes, where the fibers for the clothes were sourced from, and how well the workers who made my clothes were treated. I don’t want to participate in subjugating people or the earth because an item of clothing is cute and cheap—I want to feel good about what I wear, and to know that my actions are not causing suffering.
How do you think a commitment to sustainability in the fashion world is connected to leadership?
The fashion industry is still run by men, even though most buyers are women, and most fashion is aimed at female consumers. I think that women designers like Eileen Fisher and Stella McCartney are advocating for values that a lot of women believe in— they are actively building efforts to offset the industry’s contribution to climate change, ending exploitation of factory workers (most of whom are women), and offering consumers smarter, better choices for their money. We need to see more leadership like that. And I want to see more women take control of the industry so that more companies will reflect the values that I think women care about.
On a personal level, I see my blog as a way for me to be a leader in creating awareness about sustainability and ethical choices. On Seashorties I write a lot about the fact that you can always make a choice in what you consume, and, although it takes a lot of time to find resources to share with people interested in living sustainably, I take pride in the work that I do to spread awareness in my online community.
What do you say to people to think they can’t afford sustainable fashion?
The money issue is a big deal, because it’s hard to work around the elitism in many high end sustainable brands. But it’s not impossible!
It’s true that, for most sustainable fashion brands, we pay more for clothing in order to offset the costs of paying workers a higher wage, and for ethically sourced fabrics. While most people talk about buying higher quality clothing less frequently, I think instead it’s helpful to remember that sustainable fashion doesn’t have to mean high end fashion! It can also mean shopping at vintage and second hand stores, upcycling your own clothes, or participating in clothing swaps.
I love getting hand me downs from my aunts and sisters, because even though the clothing may not be completely new, it’s new to me. And if you can reclaim, or redesign a piece of clothing into something that you can love again, that, to me, is what fashion is all about. You can also rent dresses online, borrow from your friends, and easily find apps where you can sell and buy your clothes online.
What’s inspiring you right now?
I’ve been traveling a lot this summer, and that inspires me to open up my mind to more designers, brands, and styles. I also spend a lot of time in nature, with my friends and without my phone, hiking, canoeing, and wandering around. Our decisions right now are going to determine if we can preserve the beauty of the natural world, and I want to be sure that I am doing all I can to protect our beautiful earth!
Thank you, Emily! Keep up the amazing work!