Is it just me, or is it nearly impossible to open your email in the morning and not see a headline relating to sustainable fashion? One such headline was the announcement that VOGUE Australia had appointed a Sustainability Editor-at-Large, which was not only a first for the magazine, but also a first for any magazine. Needless to say, it's kind of a big deal. I sat down with Clare Press, the first-ever Sustainability Editor-at-Large, to learn about her ah-hah moment and what she thinks about the future of fashion.
If you don't know Clare, suffice it to say she is a wonder woman. Trust me. When she's not recording the Wardrobe Crisis - her podcast that digs into the issues facing the fashion industry - you can find her spearheading Daily Life's Sustainable Style column and driving the industry forward on the Australian advisory board of Fashion Revolution. But, perhaps where you can find her most often, is at her desk working on her next book. She published her first book, The Dressing Table, in 2011, and, in 2016, she released Wardrobe Crisis, How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion, which launched in the states this year. We met at Parsons earlier this month to celebrate the book launch, and I instantly knew we were kindred spirits.
Nina Farran (NF): What was your ah-hah moment that jumpstarted you on this sustainable and ethical fashion journey?
Clare Press (CP): The ah-hah moment for me was when the Rana Plaza factory disaster happened. At this time it became clear to me that there are big social and issues related to how we produce textiles and clothing, and if I am active in the space I have a responsibility to educate myself and others on the bigger picture of fashion manufacturing. At this point I went to volunteer for Fashion Revolution.
NF: What do you think the role of innovative partnerships + collaborations will be in fashion's progress to sustainability and ethics?
CP: We aren't going to make change unless we all work together as a community. Fashion is a community. Sustainability is a new one. We can work together to do something positive. It's the only way. You can't do it on your own. The question becomes connecting with people doing good work in the space.
NF: So how can people connect?
CP: There are a million ways to connect with like-minded individuals, and it's important that we're not only connecting with people who are right next door to us. With social media, we no longer have to be meeting people face to face in order to discover people. Change will be incremental, with lots of small steps and lots of people bringing everybody along from all parts of the world.
NF: What does Fashionkind mean to you?
CP: I immediately think of values. I love the idea that we should be - and should increasingly want to - shop our values. It's adding depth to the idea of and act of shopping. The word kind is underused, right. I think we ought to be making the fashion world more just, fair, kind, beautiful...more Fashionkind.
NF: What makes you excited about Fashionkind as a retailer?
CP: The reason I'm excited about Fashionkind is because it's innovative and unique - I haven't seen anything like it. The modern way of selling fashion is about telling stories. It's what customers want. When you look at big, clunky companies, they have to change a lot to meet changing consumer demands. But new ones, like Fashionkind, can start this way.
NF: If you could have a dinner party and invite any three guests, who would they be and why?
CP: 1. Vivienne Westwood. I've never interviewed her but she is one of my icons and I think she would be super fun at a party as well. She's a punk. She's cool. She'd add some cool, punk energy to the table.
2. Chanel. I think that Vivienne and Chanel might have something in common. She was a fascinating person. She was kind of problematic if you look at her history. An opinionated, brave woman. I love her. She and Vivienne would have a debate, I think.
3. Cleopatra. I've always wanted to ask her how she did her eye makeup. By the way, do you like how my dinner party is all women?!
I am honored to call Clare a friend and kindred spirit, and I can't wait to see what she does as the world's first Sustainability Editor-at-Large. Tune in to Clare's podcast here, follow her on Instagram, and check out her latest for Vogue Australia. She's one to watch.