In the dynamic realm of sustainable fashion, Talisha Lee emerges as a vibrant thread intricately woven into the narrative of Eco-Fashion Week Australia (EFWA). Her journey, from a transformative experience at an early age to becoming the Face of EFWA Closet of the Anthropocene in 2024, reflects not just a runway showcase but a profound exploration of the impact of fast fashion on the environment. Talisha‘s story embodies personal evolution and a commitment to amplify voices often unheard, making her an ambassador for diversity, equity, and sustainability.
Beyond the glamour, Talisha’s perspective as a medical student adds depth to her understanding of the connection between sustainable fashion and personal well-being. For her, it’s more than a runway; it’s a belief that what we wear should echo the commitment to natural, organic choices in life. Talisha’s artistic flair extends beyond modeling, with her passion for singing and acting enriching her expression on the runway. Balancing a medical career with modeling, she envisions a future where both seamlessly coexist, contributing to a vibrant and sustainable world.
Hi Talisha! You’ve been a part of Eco-Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) since its inception. Could you share your journey with us? How has the EFWA experience influenced your perspective on fashion and sustainability?
My first experience with EFWA was when I was 13 years old, and it was the first large-scale fashion/modelling show that I had ever participated in. I had the lucky opportunity to meet a multitude of different people from different countries and backgrounds and witness their own unique styles of creating sustainable fashion. From designs made of coffee bags and coffee pods, to Merino and alpaca wool, all the way through to up-cycling and redesigning op shop finds. It also opened my eyes to how much of our current fashion consumption is considered fast fashion, and just how damaging this is for the environment. Prior to my experience with EFWA I felt as if I was oblivious to the impacts of fast fashion on our environment, and to what fast fashion actually looked like in our everyday lives.
Being the Face of EFWA Closet of the Anthropocene for EFWA 2024 is an incredible achievement. Can you tell us more about this role and what it means to you?
To me being the face of the EFWA closet of the Anthropocene means not only advocating for sustainable fashion and minimising the impacts of fast fashion, but it also means giving a voice to smaller groups and communities that are often not seen and heard in the media. It means encouraging diversity and giving a voice to those who often do not have one, so that all Australians are given equal opportunity to share their story. It is up to us to use the platform that we have been given to advocate for diversity, equity, and sustainability. Having been a part of EFWA since its inception, I have been able to see the effort that this incredible team has put in to ensure diversity and equity for all of our models, designers, and community members, and I feel as if I have a responsibility to keep promoting these same values.
As a medical student, you have a unique perspective on health and sustainability. How do you see the connection between sustainable fashion and personal well-being?
To me, sustainable fashion is a much more viable alternative to fast fashion, not only for the environment but for us. We know that natural products are always better for an individual’s health, whether that’s organic foods to organic products, what we consume should be no different from the clothes that we put on our bodies.
You’re not only a model but also have a passion for singing and acting. How do these different forms of creative expression complement your modelling career?
Not only did singing and acting improve my confidence and stage presence, but it also gave me the skills required for modelling. A lot of people don’t realise that modelling is an art form, there are so many different styles of modelling and how we choose to compose ourselves on the runway is a form of individual expression. Acting and singing allowed me to explore my own unique style, from body language to facial expression, to perfect my modelling capabilities.
Eco Fashion and traditional fashion can differ in many ways. What do you find most distinctive about modelling for sustainable fashion as opposed to conventional fashion?
With sustainable fashion, you truly uncover the story behind the clothes. You get to listen to designers tell you every single step that they took to create the final piece that you’re wearing. From how they decided which materials to use, to how those materials were sourced and by whom, through to the designing and creating process. You get to listen to designers point out unique spots on their clothes that might have been a mistake when they were sewing or crocheting, and you really get to see the clothes come to life. With traditional fashion, on the other hand, you don’t get the same intimate story. You get to listen to the designing process, then the clothes are often shipped off to a foreign manufacturer before being shipped back for you to wear down the runway.
EFWA is often described as a close-knit community, like a family. How has this sense of belonging impacted your journey as a model?
With EFWA it really made a difference to me starting out my modelling career as a part of this family, because it made the modelling world so much less daunting to me. It showed that there were genuine people out there who would be willing to support me and treat me as their own. I feel like in everyday media and even just as a teenager looking online, we always get told that the fashion industry is one of the most cutthroat and exclusive industries, with everyone being pitted against each other. Being a part of the eco-fashion team, you get to see that that is far from the truth, you get to see everyone treating each other as family, whilst still giving each other the opportunity to shine as an individual.
In your opinion, what kind of impact does EFWA have on the fashion industry and the wider community?
EFWA has opened the door for communication and raised awareness regarding the impacts of fast fashion and how much of the fashion industry participates in fast fashion. It has given a platform to individual community members to raise awareness about sustainable fashion and showcased various different projects in support of our cause.
Balancing a career in the medical field and modelling is no small feat. How do you plan to pursue both these passions simultaneously?
Having studied in such a competitive and intense field, I feel like I’ve developed skills to find a balance between my career endeavours and my passion for modelling, and so I do intend to continue working on both. Modelling to me is a fun environment that allows me to escape from the pressure of studying, and I truly believe it will play a pivotal role in my life as I continue with my career.
The fashion industry plays a significant role in environmental issues. Do you believe models can be influential voices in raising awareness about sustainable fashion and addressing climate change?
100% yes. As models, we are the face of the clothes that we wear so we have a voice, and we have the ability to make an impact. If we keep raising our concerns and keep raising awareness then as models, and even as everyday individuals, we are able to make a change.
What advice do you have for newcomers entering the world of modelling, especially those who are interested in promoting sustainability?
My advice is to be confident in yourself and know that you are worthy of achieving everything that you set out to do and so much more. The industry can be quite harsh, and as much as we are working to change that, and I do believe change and progress are being made, you must be confident in yourself and believe that you will get where you want to be. Regarding promoting sustainability, that is such an important message to be sending out, and just continuously promoting that and believing and fighting for your cause will get you very far.
Fun question: If you could choose one eco-friendly fashion item to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would definitely be recycled coffee pod earrings. I feel like they’re so unique and comfortable and they can match with absolutely anything.
This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.