Kasi writes about style with standards on The Peahen. She is an ethical blogger and can help you create an ethical wardrobe through her styling services.
1. Do you think the media is doing enough to promote the effect of fast fashion, if not how can they, or what radical impacts can be made?
I do think fast fashion has earned its fair share of ink. Sweatshops have been covered. Supply chains have been covered. Poor quality standards have been covered.
People know fast fashion is bad by now. The bigger issue is getting them to care and, more importantly, to do something about it.
The reason this is so tough is because we’re hardwired to make decisions that have the smallest impact on our wallets. Until a monetary case can be made for ethical fashion, I don’t think the media message will matter.
It’s the same thing that happened with global warming. The story got so convoluted and complex that, even though it’s widely accepted by science, media coverage often falls on deaf ears.
For ethical fashion and the environment it’s a matter of message, not media.
But this can change. It’s all in the way we talk about ethical and eco fashion. Right now most brands are saying something like “Can you believe this is from an eco designer?! [insert shock and awe]” – instead – it should be, “Isn’t this new designer kicking-ass? Don’t you want to buy their stuff?”
I think it’s less about harping on fast fashion and more about a better message for ethical brands – so they can beat out their behemoth competitors.
2. What made you change your fast fashion habits, was it media, or just reading a particular story?
A little of both. I got into ethical fashion and shopping more consciously because I would always get this feeling I can only describe as ickiness after I shopped. It felt good to buy something new, but it was always fleeting. I also got really tired of all my stuff from Zara unraveling in the wash after four wears. So I started hunting for alternatives thinking I would only find hippie and granola fashion. Man, was I wrong. I ended with a full-blown obsession for discovering modern ethical designers, learning about textiles and manufacturing, purging my wardrobe of fast fashion, and living minimally.
I also joined a community called the Ethical Writers Coalition. All the writers have so much knowledge – they really live-and-breathe this stuff. It feels good to learn from them. It feels good to make informed decisions. It feels good to live with less. And it makes me incredibly happy to really covet what I do buy.
"Now, I love when people ask me about my clothes and I can tell the story behind them."
3. Why did you start your blog, what is the message you try to portray to your readers?
I started The Peahen with one goal: make ethical fashion mainstream.
My message is one part style, one part advocacy. I think these things can work in tandem, and I try to tell that story in my writing. Sometimes I write long-investigative pieces.
Other times, I write about brands, give style pointers or talk about issues in fashion.
Whatever I’m writing I try to emphasise that having a killer wardrobe doesn’t mean you have to compromise style or kill the environment in the process.
4. You are based in Florida, is the US becoming more aware about sustainability. Any examples?
Yes, but we’re not nearly as good as other counties. I wrote a post on this when I first started covering ethical fashion because I was curious why other places – like London, New Zealand, Germany and Australia – were so far ahead of the US when it can to innovative, ethical design. Also, if you read about ethical fashion it comes mostly from UK publications. The Guardian always has really great content.
It’s still perplexing why the US doesn’t stand out, but one thing that seems promising is all change that happened at this past New York Fashion Week. Designers started revolting against the traditional fashion calendar, saying they were scaling back production in favour of ‘in-season, for-season’ collections to compete with fast-fashion [read: NY Mag]. I think now would be the perfect time for ethical designers to intervene. They already do this model really well.
Being in Florida can be tough because it’s not a hotbed for any major ethical designers. The progress is happening in places like Brooklyn, NYC, L.A. and, even Austin.
5. As a stylist, what are some stylish staples one should have in their wardrobe, ones they could buy ethically and last forever?
This is my favorite question to answer because I’ve been working on building my own wardrobe of staples over the past year. Staples may seem unsexy, but when they’re crafted exquisitely, made from finer materials, and they fit just right – they reflect your style better than any trend.
The three biggies I recommend are.....
1. Silk blouse (or alternative if you’re vegan)
2. A leather loafer
3. A tailored coat. This could be a trench or a wool coat depending on your climate and style preference.
The wonderful thing about these staples is that they can be dressed up or down and they’re also what I like to call ‘industry neutral.’ Meaning, a C-suite executive needs these just as much as a freelance creative type. I also recommend trying them in an unexpected neutral – like camel or ecru – instead of black.
Once you’ve got these basics you can layer in more staples like good quality T-shirts, a button down dress, black slacks and a carry-all bag.
With staples, the right materials really make the difference on how they’ll wear and fit. Make sure you do your homework and read the labels or product descriptions.
Kasi visiting the India, home to many of our artisans with a historical textile industry
6. What are some beginner tips to buying more ethically?
It’s a process, but it’s totally addictive once you get started!
The best place to start is to purge everything you don’t absolutely love. Gradually weed out and donate all the fast fashion as you outgrow it. This helps you figure out what your authentic style is too.
From there, these are some suggested steps to follow. They don’t have to flow in any particular order. Pick what interests you most.
- Figure out your style.
- Start shopping ethically at vintage or resale boutiques.
- Get to know ethical brands.
I find that each brand has it’s own forte. For instance, Ethical Collective is brilliant in the artisan space.
- Build a capsule wardrobe.
- Learn about textiles and design.
7. Do you have any favourite pieces from Ethical Collection?
I adore this delicate crepe slip dress. It would be great to mix in with the neutral staples I mentioned as must-haves. I also love this ladylike handbag. They would work well together as a head-to-toe monochromatic look. Wear a neutral silk shirt over the slip, belt it (or not) and toss on leather loafers for the finishing touch. The whole look says modern Grace Kelly, but instead of Monaco, it’s uptown London.
8. Any high street brands you have seen that are making a positive impact to sustainability?
Honestly, not yet. But I’d love to be proven wrong here! From my knowledge, luxury brands like Stella McCartney and Maiyet are better at this.
H&M gets a lot of ink for its conscious collection. But I think the clothes are only good as a marketing vehicle. It’s good H&M is getting people to talk about ethical fashion, but the reality is poorly executed in practice. If H&M were serious about ethical fashion, they would apply these principles across their entire mass-market line.
The alternatives here are the ethical brands that sell at more accessible price point.
"Ethical Collection has many options in this realm that don’t break the bank and also champion sustainable practice."
Find Kasi @PeahenBlog. Tweet to her using #SlowDownMyClothes.