Fashion World Tokyo 2023: Pioneering Sustainability in Japan’s Fashion Landscape

Fashion World Tokyo 2023: Pioneering Sustainability in Japan’s Fashion Landscape

In the heart of Tokyo, where tradition and innovation converge, Fashion World Tokyo (FaW Tokyo) 2023 is set to unravel a fascinating tale of sustainable fashion. As Japan’s largest international fashion trade show, FaW Tokyo has transcended the boundaries of mere fashion exhibitions. It has become a platform that echoes the soulful harmony of sustainable practices, wellness, and avant-garde fashion trends.


Japan, a nation celebrated for its reverence for nature and cutting-edge technology, plays host to the grand spectacle known as Fashion World Tokyo. This colossal fashion exposition, organized by RX Japan Ltd., brings together a staggering 1,150 exhibitors from across the globe. Beyond being a fashion extravaganza, FaW Tokyo is an endeavor to spearhead sustainability in the Japanese fashion industry, aligning with the nation’s ethos of respecting nature as a fundamental part of its culture.

FaW Tokyo Vision of Sustainability


In a world teeming with fashion expos, FaW Tokyo stands apart with a resolute mission – to foster a circular economy and a recycling-based society within Japan’s fashion industry. It’s an ambition that dovetails perfectly with Japan’s reputation for innovation and reverence for the environment. The event seeks to achieve this by showcasing the latest sustainable technology and practices through its exhibition.

The Genesis of Sustainable Fashion Expo


The inception of the Sustainable Fashion Expo within FaW Tokyo was not by mere chance. It sprouted from the growing awareness of the fashion industry’s environmental impact. In 2019, as major fashion houses made headlines for waste incineration, Japan witnessed the profound effect of such incidents on its fashion landscape. Visitors and exhibitors called for a dedicated space to spotlight sustainable fashion. FaW Tokyo responded by launching the Sustainable Fashion Expo.

FaW Tokyo’s Impact on Sustainability


FaW Tokyo has emerged as a dynamic catalyst for the advancement of sustainable fashion in Japan and beyond. Major Japanese exhibitors such as YKK, trading giants like Itochu and Marubeni, and textile leaders like Toray and Shikibo illuminate the Sustainable Fashion Expo. Beyond these stalwarts, the expo showcases exhibitors committed to textile resource recycling, upcycled materials, and various technologies aimed at reducing clothing waste. These highlights collectively underline FaW Tokyo’s role as a harbinger of sustainability.

Japan Leading the World


As Japan paves the path to sustainability, it aspires to lead the world someday. The nation’s strong emphasis on wellness and health aligns seamlessly with the global trend. FaW Tokyo envisions Japan becoming the vanguard of sustainability, setting an example for the entire fashion industry.

Empowering Sustainable Fashion Brands


FaW Tokyo takes dedicated strides to empower sustainable fashion brands. It hosts a specialized exhibition, the Sustainable Fashion Expo, where brands can spotlight their commitment to sustainability. The event management proactively disseminates exhibitor information to industry media and press. FaW Tokyo’s commitment to promoting sustainable fashion transcends the event itself, extending to television broadcasts on two major national channels, collaborations with influencers, and extensive website, email, and social media promotions.

Introducing Wellness Fashion Expo


Following the success of Sustainable Fashion Expo, FaW Tokyo ventures into the world of wellness fashion. This addition aligns perfectly with Japan’s growing emphasis on longevity, wellness, and health. The concept resonates not only with the Japanese audience but also with the global wellness trend.

The Wellness Fashion Experience


Visitors to the Wellness Fashion Expo can expect an array of intriguing products. From Femtech-related fashion to comfort shoes, from fabrics that produce vitamin E to wearable smart fabrics, the expo offers a glimpse into the future of wellness fashion. Japan’s dedication to wellness and health finds expression in these innovative offerings.

Addressing Sustainability Challenges


Even in the organization of an event as colossal as FaW Tokyo, sustainability challenges are tackled head-on. FaW Tokyo is actively working to reduce waste by transitioning to recycled materials for its on-site materials. Collaborations with stand builders further contribute to minimizing the environmental footprint of the event.

FaW Tokyo doesn’t tread this path alone. With the guidance of the Conference Advisory Board, comprised of fashion industry leaders, the event launches sustainable fashion seminars and initiatives. Collaborations with major industry publications like WWD, experts, and the media help create a collective force that drives the industry towards sustainability.

In closing, FaW Tokyo extends an invitation to all to witness the direction in which the fashion industry is heading. It beckons readers to explore the latest and most advanced technologies and functional fabrics that Japan, the land of innovation, has to offer. FaW Tokyo isn’t merely an exposition; it’s a declaration that sustainability is the future of fashion.

FaW Tokyo 2023 is a journey that transcends borders, celebrating sustainable fashion as a bridge between tradition and innovation. In the heart of Tokyo, it’s a reminder that fashion isn’t just about what we wear; it’s about how we shape our future.

Tia Semi’s Inspiring Path from EFWA Runways to Sustainable Fashion

Tia Semi’s Inspiring Path from EFWA Runways to Sustainable Fashion

In the world of sustainable fashion, there are journeys that inspire and voices that echo powerful messages of inclusion and eco-consciousness. Tia Semi, a remarkable designer with a unique perspective, embodies both. From the runways of EFWA (Eco Fashion Week Australia) to her evolution as a sustainable fashion advocate, Tia’s story is one of resilience and creativity.

Navigating life with many challenges, Tia’s journey is a testament to the transformative potential of the fashion industry. EFWA provided not just a platform but a community that celebrated her uniqueness. It empowered her to create designs that fuse her Pacific Island heritage with sustainability, promoting eco-friendly practices and inclusivity. In this interview, we explore Tia’s vision for a more conscious and inclusive fashion landscape, where every individual, regardless of their background or abilities, can contribute to positive change.

Can you share with us your journey from being a runway model at EFWA to becoming a sustainable fashion designer? How did EFWA influence and inspire you to take this path?

EFWA made me more conscious of my impact on Mother Earth. I am privileged to combine the influence of my Pacific Island background and EFWA in learning about sustainability and as much as utilizing resources on our Earth, but also giving back to our Earth. I am more conscious of how I use my materials- I hand print my patterns on materials instead of mass production, I ensure I use and stretch every inch of fabric by having smaller offcuts created into scrunches and hats etc.

Tia Semi in a black outfit on the EFWA Runway
Photography by Port Douglas Photographer, Outfit by Curtin Spring

You have a unique perspective as someone who has personally experienced challenges such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, epilepsy, and being deaf. How has sustainable fashion and the platform of EFWA played a role in your mental and emotional well-being?

I am forever thankful for the EFWA platform, as they saw beyond my disabilities. This platform has proven to be impactful in a holistic way- they have embraced me as the being I am and I will forever pay it forward. Every individual has something to contribute to society and the Earth, we all leave an impact, no matter how big or small. EFWA embraced my uniqueness and now I can go out and share this with others. Together everybody achieves more. I am just getting started, what’s your excuse?

EFWA is known for its commitment to inclusivity and diversity. How has this platform empowered you as a designer and helped you bring your unique perspective to sustainable fashion?

EFWA embraced me and my uniqueness. I am not the same person when I first started my journey with EFWA 2018- I am bolder, and I am more confident in who I am and what I can achieve and contribute. I am more than willing to be the cheerleader and advocate for anybody else who needs guidance to find their path. Sustainability and Pacific Island fashion are my mandates- I am now an advocate by default. The Pacific Islands are the first to be affected by rising sea tides, so I have a responsibility to promote sustainability through my fashion label. EFWA has enabled me to be more conscious and dig deeper into my intentionality of what I am doing and how it affects Mother Earth.

Tia Semi in an orange outfit on the EFWA Runway
Photograph by Port Douglas Photographer

What are the key values and principles that you incorporate into your sustainable fashion designs?

I am a voice for the Pacific Islands and the effects of Global warming which affects the rising sea levels surrounding our Islands. My fashion label is a platform for sustainability and being conscious of how we leave our impact in this world. I use non-toxic fabric paint, I hand paint my materials, I utilize as much material to create accessories, etc. I would like to explore using my voice more to promote sustainability in my community and outer audience.

EFWA places a strong emphasis on eco-friendly materials and small-scale production of artistic clothes. How do you ensure that your designs reflect these values, and how has it impacted your creative process?

As I mentioned earlier, I use non-toxic fabric paint, hand-paint my materials, and avoid mass production. Also, I have collaborated with an Indigenous designer and created a line of upcycled Island design denim jackets (sourced from Op shops). This project was so fun and I would probably revisit it again in the near future. What a privilege to collaborate with other conscious and creative-minded fashion designers. This platform has opened up avenues I never should have manifested on my own accord. I am forever thankful and blessed for this opportunity.

How does fashion, as an art form, enable you to express yourself and communicate meaningful messages about sustainability and inclusivity?

Exploring sustainability through fashion is the best of both worlds! It is so fun and I love how we can develop our creations by digging a deeper level of creativity and innovation. My label embraces all people.

Can you share a specific moment or experience at EFWA that had a profound impact on your journey as a sustainable fashion designer?

Networking and collaborating with other fashion-conscious designers has been such a blessing. Also being on the runway and making lifelong friends through the experience with EFWA is something I’ll forever cherish in my life journey.

EFWA is known for raising awareness about the climate crisis and honoring biodiversity. How do you infuse these critical themes into your sustainable fashion designs?

I have mentioned in former questions my fusion with sustainability and the Pacific Islands- I am exploring more about how to be an impactful voice to reach a wider audience. My fashion is my voice, and I am developing and evolving this more and more. 

As a designer, how do you envision contributing to a more eco-conscious and inclusive fashion industry? What message do you hope to send to other aspiring designers and the broader fashion community?

We must utilize our strengths and explore our curiosities. If you asked me 4 years ago if I knew where I’d be now in my fashion and sustainability journey, I’d think you were talking about someone else. Just keep going, trip, fall, get up, and keep going. If your heart is true and you are willing to help others along the way, you cannot fail.

Tia Semi in a white and brown outfit on the EFWA Runway
Photography by Port Douglas Photographer, Outfit by Sylvia Calvo BCN

Lastly, how has EFWA as a platform shaped your perspective on fashion, sustainability, and the power of collective action?

As I have mentioned before, EFWA embraced me and my uniqueness and helped me to become more conscious of my impact on Mother Earth. Every person I have encountered on my journey has had an impact on my life. I love to reflect on my experiences and can only smile with appreciation and humility. I am a strong young Samoan and Aussie woman, I am alive, and I have a purpose and a voice. I will not give up, so don’t you give up. We all have a role to play. Start small and build- one foot in front of the other.

This is a 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.

Fast Fashion Addiction: The Cycle We Need to Break

Fast Fashion Addiction: The Cycle We Need to Break

So how would you like to define “addiction”? We all know that there are several proper definitions of it according to study fields like medical science, psychology, and many more. Yet, I’m asking you to define it because I believe it’s important to define such things by ourselves. Because before defining it by yourself, you will take some time to think about it – how you feel about it, and I think that is what’s really important. Of course, I am not telling you to ignore the proper dentitions provided by the experts – we will definitely take those definitions and studies into account as we move forward. 

To me “addiction” is a habit that one does not have control over. The starting of it may be simple or fun, but as time passes the habit does not stay as simple as it was in the beginning. It becomes so complicated that overcoming it needs a really powerful force. Along with it, I think the habit of “addiction” harms the one who is addicted, it also may harm the ones close to that person, and it surely has detrimental environmental, social, economic, and health aspects.

How real is Fast Fashion Addiction?

Let’s think about a narcotic substance that surely causes addiction. Let’s consider cocaine for the sake of the discussion. The first experience of cocaine for someone mostly starts due to simple reasons like curiosity, fun, or the fact that everyone else is doing it – the enjoyment really feels worthwhile. But as the habit grows, the person who started it due to simpler reasons gets into a solid web. Parties and hangouts become less fun if there’s no cocaine. Friends who have the connections to supply become closer friends. Numbers of drug dealers get saved in the phone books. Money starts to vanish. Health starts to go bad. Family and good friends start to get worried. To maintain the supply of cocaine “The War on Drugs” continues to fail, people get tortured, enslaved, and killed.

Drug addiction

Now you might ask – “Seriously? You are comparing my shopping habit to something so harmful?”. My answer would be – “Yes! But I don’t have anything against you. I am simply trying to paint a picture for both of us to understand this more clearly.” 

From what I understand, following fast fashion or following new trends is fun at the beginning – because it’s simple to follow trends ( no need to think much about our own point of view of style ). It’s also something that almost everyone is doing around you – so it’s easier to join that team. It’s super available. It’s cheap – because the industry that’s producing it is surely using cheap materials to produce those, not providing proper wages to the real producers of those items in the best-case scenarios because, in the worst-case scenarios, we still hear about modern-day slavery of the garment workers. 

Garments worker in Bangladesh protesting on the street

Now let’s talk about the detrimental effects of it. To keep up with the trends – to hang out with those friends, to join those parties; you need to keep buying the latest trends. Just like the drug dealers on speed dial, you have all the apps that you need to keep ordering new ones – otherwise, you will be the one who will feel like an outcast at the next party. Now to keep buying those, you need a constant flow of money and if you don’t have that – well they will be sold to you for credit, you will prioritise that over your basic needs.

Now let’s think about the social effects. By seeing you following the trends, your friends will be more intrigued to follow those too. I am saying “more” because the industry through its amazing marketing and advertising has fruitfully convinced us that – it’s important, it’s fun, and it’s the only way to stay relevant. So, when you’re someone who’s following those, you’re doing free marketing for the industry too – your friend who is being inspired to do so by seeing you (along with the advertisements and seeing others) and probably considering it more important than basic needs too, just like you. 

shopping

If you think about the environmental effects of it – it gets more serious. To keep the price low, the industry seeks cheap materials. Those materials don’t last, but you won’t be wearing them after a few times eventually, so it doesn’t matter! So for those cheap materials, the industry turns to detrimental environmental practices of production which ensures bountiful materials at a cheap rate, and for that toxic chemicals are used. When those toxic chemicals get released into our water and air and soil, all of those get polluted – it affects our food production, puts our water security at threat, makes us inhale toxins harmful to our bodies. The process through its pollution affects all the other species too. Not to mention, to bring that product to your doorstep a huge amount of fuel is burned – the cost of which is way more than what you’ve paid for.

The health concerns now! I’ve already said how the production process can affect our environment. How tough it is to understand that what’s bad for the soil, the water, the air, and for other species – is harmful for us too? By wearing those things we let our bodies be in direct connection to those harmful materials.

fashion waste dumpsite

Now let’s paint the picture for real

Let’s see how addiction is defined by the experts. According to the website of the NHS – “Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.”, it is also mentioned that while addiction is mostly associated with drugs, gambling, alcohol, and smoking; it is also possible to become addicted to things like shopping, internet or even work. 

This is what the American Psychiatric Association says about addiction – “Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.”

So according to these definitions, we can surely say that: 

  1. “Not having control over” – is a major factor of addiction.
  2. It is a complex condition.
  3. It is possible to become addicted to shopping.
  4. Despite harmful consequences, addiction goes on.

Can’t we all relate it to what I have said earlier about the addiction to fast fashion? 

Let’s get inside the brain to understand fast fashion addiction

Woman thinking

The whole idea of “addiction” is very complex, and what I have found out is – that there are many reasons behind the addiction to fast fashion too. 

One of the most common things is something called FOMO (fear of missing out), but I guess you all know about it. This is what the European Union says about FOMO – “FOMO is an overwhelming fear that other people at any given time are participating in exciting experiences in which you are not part of”. Social media plays an important part in spreading this, and fast fashion brands are using it perfectly. They are constantly offering discounts that do not last long, showing photos of clothes that celebrities are using and claiming that the stock of those clothes is limited, and constantly releasing new designs to make you feel that you have missed the last trend and this new one won’t last long too; so you need to grab it right now!

Shopping can be addictive, and fast fashion brands know it well. According to a study by a team of researchers from Stanford, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon – the pleasure center of the brain gets activated when a person comes across something that she/he/they wants to buy. The more the person wants the item, the more the pleasure center in the brain gets active, and when the item can be purchased at a cheaper rate, the brain gives the maximum sense of pleasure.

Now fast fashion brands produce about 52 micro-seasons in a year or one new collection a week! Just think about, every week how many clothes they are putting on display for you to see and desire. The cheaper the clothes, the more people desire them, the more people purchase them, and the more you see them on social media ( because people like to show what they bought, that they are keeping up with the trends, and the brands encourage everyone to keep posting photos and videos of their clothes that people bought and tag the brands in those contents; that’s what “fashion hauls” are ), and the more you desire to own them too. The crazy part is, that this cycle goes on every week, and the fashion industry keeps feeding this loop in our brains which creates an effect something very similar to addiction

Fashion waste dumpsite

To keep this cycle of consumption alive a culture of mindless consumption and throwing away has been established. There is a huge group of consumers who believe that they do not want to be seen in an item more than once because that might give others the idea that they have gone out of style! It’s important to point out that by “being seen” they mean that, they do not want to appear on social media twice in the same piece of garment!!

Let’s Calculate the Numbers for Fast Fashion Addiction

For the sake of the calculation, let’s say your favorite brand is H&M and you are someone who is willing to buy every week from their new collections. If you buy something in the price range from $20-$40 from them every week, then at the end of the year the amount of all your purchased items from this brand will be somewhere around $1040 – $2080 ( calculated in reference to 52 seasons a year ), and that is just one brand, and that is just a moderate pricing range considering different socio-economic situations. After this, to go with these clothes, you will need accessories and shoes too!!

Shopping addiction

Now think about that friend of yours who is super inspired by your shopping habit to do so! That’s another $1040 – $2080 dollars, plus the accessories and shoes!

Now, let’s talk about environmental numbers. Between 80 and 100 billion new clothing garments are produced globally every year, and from these new garment, 92 million tonnes end up in landfills. This means a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up in landfills every second, and this industry is expecting to grow more every year! More importantly, around 60% of all clothing material now is synthetic fibers, which means plastic – nylon, acrylic, polyester, etc. The textile industry generates 42 million tons of plastic waste per year. Every time you wash a synthetic garment, it releases tiny plastic microfibers into the water. Up to 500,000 tons of microfibers end up in the ocean every year. This industry accounts for  9% of annual microplastic pollution added to our oceans. This is just a tiny fraction of the whole environmental problem caused by fast fashion, and it is expected that the apparel industry’s global emissions will increase by 50% by 2030 if the business-as-usual scenario continues. Along with every kind of plastic pollution, the fast fashion industry harms our environment through the usage of textile dyes, and pesticides, overproduction of low-quality garments that end up in landfills ( and creates waste colonialism too! ), excessive usage of water and water pollution, emissions from the transportation sector due to long supply chains and global shipping, energy-intensive production process which is heavily dependant on fossil fuels, methane emissions from the landfills due to overproduction of low-quality garments made mostly from synthetic fiber and waste colonialism.

It is not tough to understand that all of these adverse environmental impacts are harmful to our health too. Plastic pollution can damage human cells and can lead to infertility, obesity, diabetes, prostate or breast cancer, thyroid problems, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, among others. Prolonged exposure to textile dyes can lead to skin allergies, respiratory problems, hormonal imbalances, and even certain types of cancers. Methane emissions reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air and cause mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache, lung diseases, asthma attacks, cardiovascular morbidity, and mortality, and heightened stroke risk. These are just some of the health effects that can be caused by the pollution generated by the fashion industry, and if you still want to learn more about it, I am sure you can google it and learn from verified sources.

All the other adverse effects

At this point of the article, I am really feeling overwhelmed and tired to even talk about all the other negative impacts caused by fast fashion, but they surely include serious factors like – labor exploitation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, etc. 

Deforestation

How to overcome the fast fashion addiction

Now that we’ve explored the deep-rooted addiction that fast fashion can become, it’s time to shed light on breaking free from this cycle. Embracing a sustainable, eco-conscious approach to fashion and lifestyle is not only a remedy for our planet but also for our well-being.

Love for earth

Slow Down, Choose Quality: Shift your focus from quantity to quality. Invest in timeless pieces that are made to last. Seek out brands that prioritize durability and craftsmanship. Remember, a well-made, classic garment can serve you for years, saving you money in the long run.

Circular Fashion: Embrace circular fashion principles. Explore thrift stores, vintage shops, and second-hand markets. Not only will you find unique pieces with character, but you’ll also extend the lifespan of clothing and reduce waste.

Regenerative Fashion: Support regenerative fashion practices. Look for brands that prioritize sustainability, ethical labor practices, and environmental conservation. These brands often use eco-friendly materials, reduce waste, and contribute positively to local communities.

Capsule Wardrobe: Simplify your wardrobe with a capsule wardrobe. Choose versatile, mix-and-match pieces that suit your style. This minimalist approach reduces the temptation to constantly buy new clothes.

Mindful Consumption: Before making a purchase, pause and reflect. Ask yourself if you truly need the item or if it’s just a fleeting trend. Consider its impact on the environment, and opt for eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, or recycled fabrics.

DIY and Upcycling: Get creative! Learn basic sewing and repair skills to mend and upcycle your clothing. Transform old items into new, unique pieces. It’s a fulfilling way to reduce waste and express your individuality.

Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the fashion industry’s impact on the environment and society. Understanding the consequences of fast fashion can motivate you to make more conscious choices.

Community and Swap: Organize clothing swaps with friends and family. It’s an enjoyable way to refresh your wardrobe without spending money and gives previously-owned garments a new life.

Support Sustainable Brands: Discover and support sustainable fashion brands and designers. They’re leading the way in creating clothing that’s stylish, eco-friendly, and ethical.

Spread Awareness: Share your journey towards sustainable fashion with others. By raising awareness and educating friends and family, you can collectively reduce the demand for fast fashion.

Breaking free from fast fashion addiction isn’t just about changing our habits; it’s about transforming our perspective on fashion and consumption. It’s a shift towards a lifestyle that’s not only better for us but for our planet and future generations. Remember, small changes lead to big impacts. Together, we can create a fashion industry that values quality, sustainability, and ethical practices over mindless consumption.

How you dress is an expression of your identity, so explore and express yourself mindfully – let fashion be a force for good.

Woman wearing a beautiful white dress in the field
Empowering Women Through Fashion: Hayley Beardman on her EFWA Journey

Empowering Women Through Fashion: Hayley Beardman on her EFWA Journey

In the dynamic world of fashion and modeling, Hayley Beardman started her remarkable journey at the tender age of 7. Growing up amidst the ever-evolving trends and styles of the industry, she has honed her craft into something truly extraordinary. As a dedicated member of the Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) family, Hayley has played an integral role in promoting sustainability and empowerment in the fashion industry. Her passion for nurturing emerging talents and empowering young models shines through in every role she takes on.

Hailing from the vibrant city of Perth, Western Australia, Hayley has graced the pages of numerous magazines, showcasing her remarkable versatility across a wide spectrum of genres, from high fashion to artistic expression. Yet, what truly sets Hayley apart is her indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to making a difference. She’s not just a model; she is an empowering force, a mentor, and a trailblazer.

Explore her inspiring journey and insights in the full interview below, as she shares her experiences and sheds light on the vital intersection of sustainable fashion and mainstream trends. Get ready to be inspired by the formidable Hayley Beardman!

Can you share your remarkable journey with EFWA from its inception? How did you first become involved, and what inspired you to join this movement for sustainable fashion?

The first time I walked for Zuhal wearing Green Embassy was at the Ellington Jazz Club. It was before Eco Fashion Week even evolved in Perth. It was a small event showcasing her work. I honestly fell in love with her designs even more wearing them. Once I understood the story and how they were actually made, I was truly excited to be able to walk and work with Zuhal for Eco Fashion Week Australia when the first show was in 2017. By the end of this show, I knew I wanted more.

Photo of Hayley Beardman with Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, Founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia standing in the garden of Green Embassy
Photo of Hayley Beardman with Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, Founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia

Balancing a full-time job, motherhood, and a modeling career is truly commendable. How have you managed to keep your passion for modeling alive amidst your busy life?

It’s definitely a juggle, and balancing is a hard word to say already! (Laughs) I do have a loving partner who supports me with everything I do and an amazing family who is happy to help with Austin & Ariela when I am working in the Modeling field. This career I started when I was 7 years old; I was actually a really shy kid & would hide behind my mum’s legs. Modeling is what brought out the sparkle in me and made me passionate about this career. It’s why I truly enjoy doing this. I feel that if you’re passionate about something enough, you never work a day in your life.

You’ve been a steadfast presence even during EFWA’s early days when financial constraints were challenging. What motivated you to continue with EFWA despite the financial hurdles?

It is a passion of mine, modeling and being involved in such amazing projects. Money isn’t everything; this show is more than just a show – it’s a story, and it needs to be told! Zuhal is an amazing woman, and her story is truly courageous. I love supporting Zuhal and honestly cannot wait for the next year 2024 EFWA!

Using your work holidays to practice for EFWA showcases your dedication. How do these events differ from other fashion shows you’ve been a part of, and what keeps you motivated to invest such time and effort?

Participating in EFWA’s showcases feels more like joining a close-knit family than just another fashion event. It’s a unique blend of camaraderie, support, and genuine care. We know we can rely on each other, from fellow models to the dedicated parents who become like our own. It’s a nurturing and welcoming environment, unlike any other show. Even in challenging times, like in 2018 when my son, Austin, was just 3 months old, EFWA’s exceptional support allowed me to return to the catwalk on the Finale show, a gesture rarely seen in most fashion events. This is the essence of EFWA – it’s not merely an event; it’s a family.

How do you manage the dual role of being a model and a mother during such high-energy events?

I am going to say it’s hard work tbh, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I honestly really enjoy Modelling and being able to help others. Keeping the energy levels up is easy when it is something you are already passionate about. I love being on the catwalk and strutting my stuff tbh is honestly a lot of fun, and if I’m behind the scenes doing backstage/ coordinator for the models, it’s a rush to get things done and knowing others are looking at you as a role model too.

You’ve taken on the role of managing young models backstage. Can you share your experiences in this mentorship role? How does it feel to be an older sister figure to these aspiring models?

It’s something I really like doing and being able to help others in this industry is honestly a blessing. To be known in this industry is quite surreal tbh and being asked to help with a lot of modeling events or help train other models for other shows I am involved in is a dream of mine… I started my journey by opening up my own Modeling school – Poise Modelling Academy wanting to teach young models, the safety of modeling and inspire them. I have models I taught in my modeling school who still come to me and ask me questions to this day and it makes it worthwhile. Unfortunately, it’s not easy and not everyone wants to pay but doing this opened up a lot of opportunities for me especially mentoring, choreography, and running backstage.

EFWA seems to have become more than just a platform for you. How would you describe your role in the EFWA family, and what does this community mean to you?

It means the world to me, when I found out Zuhal was re-opening up this Project, I was so excited!!! I honestly cannot wait to be back on the catwalk, helping backstage, and being around everyone again.

As someone deeply connected to the sustainable fashion movement, could you share your insights on the differences between fast fashion and sustainable fashion from a professional model’s viewpoint?

Working with a lot of the designers on the runway to photoshoots – the difference I feel personally is creativity in their design. There’s a lot of thought, and effort, and shows truly how designers in “sustainable fashion” are passionate about the environment and the world around them. I am not saying that fast fashion doesn’t have passion as such – I am saying that it’s just that they can sell easily from catwalk to the shelves, while sustainable fashion is usually a once-off piece. This is only my perspective and my thoughts, but everyone thinks differently. Working with and hearing the designers’ stories who work in sustainable fashion shows their willingness to evolve.

EFWA embodies sustainable fashion. Could you elaborate on how this event’s philosophy aligns with your values as a model, and how it differs from typical fashion shows?

It’s very similar in certain ways as typical fashion to sustainable fashion on what happens backstage with catwalk shows, some show it’s just a straight catwalk where you will walk up to the front pose, then walk off, to some it might be a small routine with others on the catwalk. What I do find different is with EFWA they do talk about the actual designer and hear the stories behind the designs coming to life on the catwalk. I feel with Sustainable fashion – some designers want a bit of character on the catwalk where they might want a bit of sass, smiles, and to really show the design off not just a mannequin on the catwalk.

From your unique perspective, what message do sustainable fashion events like EFWA send to the fashion industry and society as a whole?

Sounds a little crazy, I was speaking with Zuhal having a chai, and talking about how I see fashion with what she is doing with EFWA and how designers are evolving to grow in this way, and then how I see this movement growing not just fashion but to the world – think about, everyone is already trying to go greener slowly as it takes time…

Our area that I live in has a buy nothing group where another person’s unwanted items become someone else’s new toy, new clothes, new kitchen utensils, etc. instead of them just throwing them out they become reused. I just purchased last week some Eco-Friendly kitchen reusable baking mats that can be reused up to at least 100 times and eventually save me money too in my pocket. They are catching on – but it does take time to understand.

How do you see the role of models evolving in promoting sustainable fashion? How can models contribute to raising awareness about ethical practices in the industry?

Social Media has a huge presence for Teens nowadays, they constantly have a phone glued to their hands! I feel this is likely the only way to help evolve and showcase sustainable fashion. If the Teens / Models are talking it gets others talking.

How do you educate yourself about sustainable fashion, and what changes have you personally made in your fashion choices to be more environmentally conscious?

I haven’t really bought any clothes for about 7 years… the BUY NOTHING GROUP is where I shop! Unless it’s underwear of course hahaha!

With your experience, what advice would you give to aspiring models who are interested in pursuing a career aligned with sustainable fashion values?

To give it a go, you have nothing to lose, and might be surprised how much you actually enjoy it!

As EFWA grows and the fashion industry evolves, where do you envision the intersection of sustainable fashion and mainstream fashion in the coming years?

I feel some designers might be willing to take on the challenge eventually, it will take time and it’s already happening in Tafes where they are learning and challenging themselves in “sustainable fashion”. I do feel mainstream will slowly evolve into sustainable fashion on the catwalk even more, especially with how our world is already evolving and talking about climate change to recycling items & reusable goods, why can’t fashion be that as well?

This is a 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.

Trashion to Fashion: Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed’s Stylish Eco-Journey

Trashion to Fashion: Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed’s Stylish Eco-Journey

In the dynamic landscape of sustainability and fashion, Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed emerges as a compelling advocate for change. At just 30 years old, she’s making remarkable strides in promoting eco-consciousness and responsible fashion practices. With her unwavering commitment to environmental causes and sustainability, Habiba is a driving force behind positive change in the region.

As the CSR Ambassador at Mrs. Earth UAE and the founder of ‘Trashion Kenya,’ Habiba has dedicated herself to raising awareness about environmental issues and transforming the fashion industry into a more sustainable and responsible one. In this exclusive interview, she shares her insights and experiences, providing a glimpse into her inspiring journey and her vision for a more eco-conscious future.

Congratulations on being awarded 2nd Runners Up and CSR Ambassador at Mrs Earth UAE!

Can you tell us more about your role as an ambassador and how it connects with the Women of the Earth Foundation’s mission for positive change, sustainability, and social responsibility?

Thank you so much for your kind words! It is a great honor to have won Mrs Earth UAE Water Award symbolic of one of the elements of nature as 2nd Runners-up. Being also awarded as the Mrs Earth UAE CSR Ambassador Award for the Women of the Earth Foundation is a great achievement and a recognition for my commitment to sustainability and the environment. As the Mrs Earth UAE Water and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) ambassador, I have the opportunity to raise awareness about important environmental issues and inspire others to take action and promote the Mrs Earth UAE Women of the Earth Foundation’s mission and values. This is especially meaningful in the Year of Sustainability in the UAE, as the country prepares to host COP28.

Additionally, as Mrs Earth UAE Delegates, we serve as ambassadors of the Women of the Earth Foundation which is a non-profit organization and the official philanthropic initiative of Mrs Earth UAE, with a mission to inspire change and overcome nature’s issues collectively by promoting environmental literacy and inspire collective community changes to help save our planet.

Your journey as a sustainability advocate and founder of Trashion Kenya is impressive.

What initially sparked your passion for sustainable fashion and environmental consciousness, and how have your background and experiences shaped your commitment to making a positive impact in the field of sustainability?

Thank you for the great compliments. My passion for sustainable fashion and environmental consciousness was sparked by a desire to make a positive impact in my country, Kenya. My sustainability journey started with volunteering for charity work, community clean-ups, and nature regeneration initiatives such as mangroves and tree planting through different local organizations in Kenya. I witnessed firsthand the impacts of plastic pollution, textile, and other waste on our ecosystems.

This drove me towards researching for solutions both online and offline, by attending sustainability-focused events such as the first sustainable blue economy conference which was hosted in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018 where I gained knowledge on sustainability and insights on environmental solutions by interacting and engaging with experts in the field. I also discovered the art of creating fashionable products from waste through sustainability events. Since I was also already blogging about travel, lifestyle, and fashion, this motivated me to combine my background in blogging, fashion, and content creation with my commitment to sustainability, leading me to found Trashion Kenya. My personal blog is now dedicated fully on sustainable fashion, travel, and lifestyle as an ethical influencer, habibabien.eco.

Through Trashion Kenya, I had the the opportunity to volunteer in schools in Kenya where I started the ‘Trashion Club’ which included fun up-cycling activities and awareness talks before I moved to the UAE. Not to mention more youth participation opportunities such as the Creative World Forum in Eindhoven Netherlands where for the first time, I presented Trashion Kenya to the world and engaged with youths, experts, and leaders in the sustainability space where we exchanged great futuristic ideas. Through Trashion Kenya, I aim to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability in fashion including innovative up-cycling and recycling solutions, join hands with fashion activist organizations in my country and globally for climate-just fashion, train and educate youths in partnership with the Green Futures Fellowship and inspire others to embrace more sustainable practices. 

As a sustainability advocate based in the UAE, how do you see eco and sustainable fashion evolving in the region? What challenges and opportunities do you see for promoting sustainable fashion in your location?

As a sustainability advocate based in the UAE, I see eco and sustainable fashion evolving positively in the region. There is a growing awareness and interest in sustainable practices among consumers and fashion brands. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as limited access to sustainable materials, the need for more education and awareness, and the need for more sustainable fashion businesses, only a handful in the region. The opportunities lie in promoting local sustainable fashion designers, encouraging collaborations, and fostering a culture of conscious consumption such as clothing swap events, thrifting, renting, and reselling.

Fashion Revolution U.A.E plays a significant role in raising awareness about ethical fashion. Can you share some of the initiatives or campaigns that you’ve been involved in and how they have contributed to promoting a more transparent and sustainable fashion industry?

Fashion Revolution UAE, with the valuable contribution of its dedicated organizing team, plays a vital role in advancing the cause of sustainable fashion in the region. As part of the Fashion Revolution UAE organizing team, we have been involved in various impactful initiatives and campaigns every annual Fashion Revolution Week (held every year on April 24 for one consecutive week) to promote a more transparent and sustainable fashion industry. One of our key initiatives is the “Who Made My Clothes?” campaign, where we encourage consumers to question the origins of their garments and demand transparency from brands.

We also organize educational workshops and events to raise awareness about ethical fashion practices and showcase sustainable designers and brands, including local fashion school students’ sustainable fashion contests. Through these efforts, we aim to empower individuals to make informed choices and drive positive change in the fashion industry.  Our collective efforts at Fashion Revolution UAE and commitment to promoting conscious and eco-friendly practices, I believe, are making a profound impact on the industry and inspiring positive change in the fashion industry, promoting a more sustainable and conscious approach to fashion. Together, we can make a significant impact on promoting sustainable fashion in the UAE. 

You are the founder of Trashion Kenya. Could you tell us more about this organization and its goals in promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness through fashion?

Trashion Kenya is an initiative I founded with the goal of promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness through fashion. It was established as a media platform to raise awareness through a fusion of trash and fashion design that is either upcycled or recycled whilst communicating environmental conservation and advocating against plastic through campaigns, beach cleanups, and workshops. We believe that fashion can be a powerful tool for positive change.

Our mission at Trashion Kenya is to raise awareness about the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. We aim to inspire individuals to embrace sustainable practices and understand the value of reducing waste not only plastic and textile waste but waste in general. Additionally, we strive to offer sustainable alternatives to promote a more sustainable future. It’s been a challenging journey; Trashion Kenya took a pause during the Covid-19 pandemic but has eventually resumed this year in 2023 with the main focus on serving as an educational platform teaching youths about climate justice and sustainable fashion.

Through a partnership with the Green Futures Fellowship, we have been educating passionate youths on climate education, including sustainable fashion. With great efforts from the Green Futures Fellowship’s team lead, Jonah Kirabo, we brought in climate experts from various fields, and I’m proud to say that the first cohort was a great success! At Trashion Kenya, we are driven by our goal to make a global impact through storytelling, education, and sustainable fashion innovation. We aim to inspire people to make more conscious choices. We’re currently exploring various avenues, such as books, documentaries, and educational institutions, to bring our bigger vision to life. Taking it one step at a time, we’re committed to creating a more sustainable future for fashion and the planet. 

How do you see your role as a young woman in sustainability influencing and inspiring the next generation of advocates and changemakers in the field of sustainability and eco-fashion?

As a young woman in sustainability, I strive to be a role model and advocate for positive change in the field of sustainability and eco-fashion. By sharing my passion, knowledge, and experiences, I hope to inspire the next generation of advocates and changemakers to embrace sustainable practices and make a difference. Together, we can create a more conscious and environmentally friendly future for fashion and the world. 

As someone who is deeply involved in the sustainable fashion movement, what advice would you give to individuals and communities who wish to incorporate more sustainable choices into their daily lives?

For individuals and communities looking to incorporate more sustainable choices into their daily lives, my advice would be to start small and be mindful of your consumption. Consider thrifting or buying second-hand clothing, as it reduces waste and supports a circular economy. Invest in quality, timeless pieces that will last longer. Embrace the concept of “less is more” and avoid fast fashion trends. Educate yourself about sustainable materials and ethical brands. And most importantly, remember that every small choice counts, and together we can make a big impact. 

Can you share a story or experience that has been particularly meaningful to you during your journey as a sustainability advocate and how it has shaped your perspective on the importance of sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility?

Visiting waste recycling facilities, slums, and dumpsites in my country, Kenya, during my journey as a sustainability advocate while working on a sustainable fashion campaign for Trashion Kenya was a profound experience that left a lasting impact. It opened my eyes to the environmental challenges we face and reinforced my commitment to promoting sustainable practices. Especially seeing the mountains of discarded plastic waste and clothing, and learning about the challenges of second-hand traders about the poor quality of “mitumba” (second-hand clothes) that often end up being burned or discarded.

Interacting with the community living in these areas and hearing their stories of experiencing pollution firsthand reinforced my commitment to promoting sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility. What truly inspired me was witnessing the beauty that can be created from waste by the Trashion community in Kenya as a sign of hope and true activism. This led me to explore global innovations in sustainable fashion which has further fueled my motivation to promote the movement. It’s incredible to see the endless possibilities and inspiring ideas that are shaping the future of fashion and it’s moments like these that drive me to continue my work and inspire others to make a positive change. 

How do you envision the future of sustainable fashion in the UAE and beyond? What are your hopes for a more eco-conscious and socially responsible fashion industry?

I envision a future where sustainable fashion in the UAE and beyond becomes the norm, rather than the exception. A future where shopping malls are filled with sustainable fashion brands with no sight of fast fashion brands. My hope is for a fashion industry that embraces eco-conscious practices and prioritizes social responsibility. I hope to see an increase in sustainable materials, ethical production processes, transparent supply chains, and fair pay for professionals in the fashion industry in the UAE including fashion models. I also hope for greater awareness and education among consumers, leading to more conscious purchasing decisions. Ultimately, I believe that by working together, we can create a fashion industry that is both stylish and sustainable, making a positive impact on the environment and society. 

How do you define success?

For me, success is not just about personal achievements, but also about making a positive impact in the world. It’s about pursuing my passions, embracing my values, and striving to create meaningful change. Success is finding fulfillment in what I do and inspiring others to do the same. It’s about leaving a positive legacy and contributing to a better future for all. 

What’s your mantra for life?

As a sustainability advocate, my mantra for life is toBe the change you wish to see in the world. It reminds me to lead by example, to live in alignment with my values, and to actively work towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future. It’s a constant reminder that even small actions can make a big difference. 

How can others support your good work?

Thank you for offering me the platform for others to support my work in sustainability. They can join my sustainability journey by following my personal eco page habibabien.eco on social media platforms active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Threads, where I create content to raise awareness about sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility. I’m soon to launch my website. They can also connect with Trashion Kenya on social media Instagram, Twitter and Threads, Trashion Kenya on LinkedIn and Facebook to explore collaboration opportunities on climate-just fashion and education. I also extend an invitation to eco-conscious brands and individuals who are interested in partnering and collaborating with me to amplify our efforts and promote sustainable practices together. We can also get acquainted on my LinkedIn, Habiba Abdulrahman. Together, we can create a more sustainable future! 

This is a 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.

Weaving Dreams: Emily Craig on her Path from EFWA Model to Designer

Weaving Dreams: Emily Craig on her Path from EFWA Model to Designer

In the realm where fashion intertwines with sustainability, a captivating narrative unfolds – that of Emily Craig, a beacon of inspiration within Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA). In this exclusive interview, we embark on a voyage through time, tracing Emily’s transformative journey from her first steps onto EFWA’s runway to her present role as a visionary fashion designer. 

From the early days of EFWA, where Emily first graced the stage, to her current position as the inaugural designer for EFWA 2024, her story reflects the very essence of what EFWA stands for – a harmonious blend of creativity, innovation, and a profound commitment to sustainability. Join us as we unravel the chapters of Emily’s evolution, each page adorned with insights into her experiences, inspirations, and aspirations within the realm of sustainable fashion.

Can you take us back to when you first started with Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) as a model in 2017? How did you get involved, and what was your initial experience like?

I was 15 when I went to a model casting for EFWA’s first show in Fremantle in 2017. It was an eye-opener into what fashion and design could be – this was my first runway experience and I felt part of a bigger purpose and felt at home. 

EFWA has a strong focus on sustainable fashion. How has being a part of this event influenced your perspective on fashion and sustainability?

Before EFWA I was aware of the effects of the fashion industry and its cost on the environment.  When I was introduced to EFWA and met Zuhal and other designers, hearing them talk about their practice and seeing their collections opened my eyes to how diverse sustainable fashion can be whilst being unique and fashionable.  I’ve really tried to embed this into my practice, viewing multiple aspects, not just what fabrics are used, but storytelling, design concepts, and how to present your collection.

As a young fashion design graduate, how has your journey with EFWA shaped your career aspirations and design philosophy?

The EFWA ethos has always been with me throughout my studies –  sustainability being the core of any of my decisions. There is an emphasis on having your own individual voice but also being a part of a team and a larger conversation. EFWA has a profound balance of that and has shaped how I balance that within my own design philosophy. 

What specific aspects of EFWA’s mission and values have resonated with you the most, and how have they inspired your work as a fashion designer?

Not being afraid to be non-traditional. Adapting and having the confidence to do so and be better, for the sake of our environment. 

EFWA has been known to provide a platform for emerging designers to showcase their talent. How has this opportunity impacted your growth and development as a designer?

It’s amazing to have this event in Australia. EFWA has always placed emphasis on emerging designers and I’ve seen that from the very start. EFWA gave me the courage and the dedication to start my growth as a designer. EFWA inspired me to focus my studies on fashion way back in high school where I made a garment from recycled materials as a canvas for my painting.  I showed this, my first piece, with EFWA at Dowerin Field Days. It gave me the confidence to say  ‘Yes I can actually do this’, and I applied to study a Bachelor of Design, majoring in Fashion at ECU.

Could you share a memorable moment or experience you’ve had during your time with EFWA that stands out as particularly inspiring or influential?

I remember after our show in 2019, we all got on the stage to celebrate the week-long event and everyone behind the scenes – models, designers, volunteers – the energy of the EFWA family was and is always so high!  So much support and love was on that stage that night – it still inspires me today. 

As the first designer for EFWA 2024, how does it feel to be a part of the event from both the modeling and now design perspectives?

Surreal! I feel like I’m growing alongside EFWA, and I’m so honoured to continue to be a part of it! 

Sustainability is at the core of EFWA’s ethos. How do you plan to incorporate sustainable practices and values into your designs for EFWA 2024?

Through my studies and time with EFWA, I believe the most fundamental way to start to view cloth is through meaningful storytelling –  to essentially make and wear with purpose. My inspiration for my collection is a reflection, a memory of my childhood. I revisit my memories as a child along the coast of the West.  Subtle imagery of shells, seaweed, and organic silhouettes alludes to a liminal space.

My garments are a ‘pod’ that carries these memories of childhood and are between time.  They envelop me and connect then and now- yet it is continuously moving, growing, transforming. Same with how I spend time with my garments – I manipulate them and enhance them – the act of devoree,  printing multiples of my imagery back over-dyed cloth, laser cutting intricate patterns, stitching over print, and stitching beads. All of these make me spend time with my garments, strengthening an act of habitus – my connection with cloth and my own collection.

What message or impact do you hope to convey through your designs at EFWA 2024, both in terms of fashion and sustainability?

A message being the making and consuming with purpose and the integrity to reuse and reimagine. That has always been an integral message with EFWA and applies to both fashion and sustainability.

As someone who started with EFWA as a young model and is now a designer for the event, what advice would you give to aspiring young designers who wish to make a positive impact in the fashion industry?

Think kindly and be brave! You have to be true to yourself in every aspect of this industry, keep your uniqueness, treat and respect fellow artists and resources, and don’t be afraid to be innovative. 

How do you see your future evolving within the sustainable fashion space, and how will your journey with EFWA continue to influence your path ahead?

Within the sustainable fashion space, always adapting and growing is fundamental but also staying true to your roots and your own story, to keep creating with purpose and not lose that. This is how the circular mind works, always revolving and morphing from one center point. To be a part of the EFWA family and see other designers work like this, and to learn and share with them is always going to continue to influence my path ahead. 

EFWA aims to inspire and promote young designers. What do you hope your involvement in EFWA will bring to the next generation of fashion enthusiasts and eco-conscious individuals?

I hope my involvement in EFWA as a designer, adds to the urgency for a change in the way we view fashion. I hope that the next generations see EFWA’s family and strong ethos living in the people involved and inspire them the way it inspired me from first being involved when I was 15. 

Click to learn more about Emily Craig and Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA).

TUAessence: A Tale of Sustainability, Crafted by Fernanda Lopes Lima

TUAessence: A Tale of Sustainability, Crafted by Fernanda Lopes Lima

In the heart of Brazil, a sustainable fashion revolution is blooming, led by the visionary founder of TUAessence, Fernanda Lopes Lima. This trailblazing brand intertwines ethical principles with artistic brilliance, offering a new paradigm for conscious fashion. In an exclusive interview, Fernanda unveils the captivating story behind TUAessence’s inception and the inspiration behind its meaningful name.

With a background in fashion, contemporary art, and eco-social responsibility, Fernanda’s approach to ethical fashion design is deeply rooted in her personal values. TUAessence embraces slow fashion, veganism, and eco-friendly practices, using biodegradable fabrics for its one-of-a-kind collections. Through transparency and compassion, Fernanda fosters fair trade practices within the brand’s supply chain, building genuine relationships with everyone involved in the creation process.

As a climate activist, Fernanda emphasizes the role of education in reshaping the fashion industry’s impact on the planet. With a strong commitment to environmental preservation and social consciousness, she extends her mission beyond fashion through fundraising campaigns, supporting indigenous communities, and protecting flora and fauna in Brazil.

Join us on this enlightening journey as Fernanda Lopes Lima invites us all to embrace mindful choices and co-create a future where sustainable fashion reigns supreme.

Can you share the story behind the formation of TUAessence and the inspiration behind its name?

TUAessence was born in 2015 on a life-changing trip I took to Costa Rica with 7 other friends. I fell in love with it and couldn’t leave. TUA was the vehicle and catalyzer created so I could move there. On the trip, I met Ju, my ex-business partner and dear friend. I have always worked with fashion; she worked in the pharmaceutical sector, also fell in love with the little fishing village by the Pacific, and agreed to join me in this adventure.

TUA’s name is a funny story! Ju and I didn’t know how to name it at first. We brainstormed with friends over wine sessions, writing all possible names on the white kitchen tiles with washable markers. Until one day Renata, a great friend of mine who was studying numerology, came up with a name that had the energy of the number 6 (we had that very much in mind at the time) and meant Transformation, Union, and Amor (Love). Bingo! TUA! Transformation, Union, and Amor lived in the essence: TUAessence!

How did your educational background in fashion, contemporary art, and eco-social responsibility shape your approach to ethical fashion design?

Each one of these paths helped me somehow. Fashion has brought me technical, technological, and empirical knowledge, as well as experience. The arts have always shaped and guided the way I see the world: through colors and textures. Beauty is everywhere and it moves me. As for the eco-social aspect, it was very much present my entire life, living and growing up amongst/experiencing such a profuse culture and passionate people in a country like Brazil: wild, raw, varied, intense, and mesmerizing. But the greatest was to be lucky enough to grow up with grandmothers who were both seamstresses very committed to love. This gave me awareness, basic notions of limits, keeping it real, and mostly of gratitude to honor and respect my ancestors and nature.

How do you find inspiration for your designs and incorporate your personal values and beliefs into your creative process?

These two are linked, and I believe, inseparable. My personal beliefs and values are the lenses through which I see inspiration. I can only feel passionate, motivated, and inspired by something that deeply touches me. That will necessarily be linked to something very deep within me, shaped by my core values, experiences, and memories. My creative processes and the themes I choose for the projects and collections are always linked to something I’m in love with.

As a climate activist, how do you incorporate environmental and social awareness into your design process and brand philosophy?

TUA is a slow fashion, vegan, eco, and fair trade beachwear brand ethically made in Brazil with biodegradable fabrics. All suits are double-sided (reversible). The prints are made with non-polluting water-based pigment, exclusively developed in partnership with visual artists. We produce in small quantities and only one collection per year, optimizing the use of fabrics and reducing textile waste. Any scraps are reused in the production of other handicrafts or destined for charities that use them for the same purpose. Our packaging and labels also follow our conduct of respect for the environment; we do not use plastic.

How do you ensure fair trade practices within the supply chain of TUAessence, and what steps do you take to support the workers involved in the production process?

I know personally every single person who collaborates with me. I meet them, shake their hands, look them in the eyes, know about their lives, and share about mine too. I see where and how they work. We co-create. Every single TUA suit may have been initially thought of and designed by me, but it has in it a little bit of every single brain, heart, and hand that helped me think, shape, give form, and bring that suit to life. We establish a give&take balanced relationship based on trust and affection. Everything I do, I do with love. If I’m not emotionally involved and driven, I can’t create beauty in the world.

Could you elaborate on your experience with textile technology research and the development of collections using biodegradable and organic fabrics?

I have always worked for other brands until I founded TUA. I had never really thought much of the fabrics used, even though I was already involved with textile technology, natural dyeing, etc. But then I moved to Costa Rica, to live in the middle of the jungle, and my entire perspective changed in regards to nature, my personal relationship/impact on this planet, and how disconnected humanity got from it. I’ve always enjoyed studying, and having an academic background helped me with more profound research. I had to dig deeper to learn more and find the truth about the fashion industry at a time very few people were starting to really talk about it, never mind doing it. It just stopped making sense to work with polyester, for example. I also learned how to better identify greenwashing and empty/fake sustainability used simply as marketing and shallow propaganda, and that was the basis for all of my choices within TUA.

Could you share any specific challenges you have encountered while promoting sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion industry, and how have you overcome them?

I don’t know if I’ve overcome them. They’re here, on a daily basis. For example, the customers who tell me there’s a fast fashion brand that has a somewhat similar piece of clothing and it costs ⅓ the price… Or the salespeople who represent the textile companies and try to sell us really bad quality recycled plastic disguised as some brand new technology and solution… Or “sustainable” cotton made with tons of pesticide and/or slavery labor. It’s challenging because we, those truly committed to making the real deal “conscious fashion,” don’t work solely with the production of fair trade biodegradable goods. We work with education. We inform, create, and shape new consumption consciousness and habits. This takes time.

In your opinion, what are the key changes that need to happen within the fashion industry as a whole to move towards a more sustainable and responsible future?

We need transparency. We need companies to tell the truth, and we need buyers to know exactly what they’re buying, what they’re paying for, and what they’re sponsoring, strengthening, and encouraging. Like the Fashion Revolution campaign says: “When people know, they care!”.

Could you share some examples of your fundraising campaigns for the protection of fauna, flora, and indigenous communities in Brazil?

  • “Sustentabilidade no Dia a Dia” (Daily Sustainability) lecture about more sustainable choices and habits, with specialist guests to raise donations for flood victims;
  • “Semana Verde” (Green Week) 35% OFF with 5% of sales to Instituto Nawá of Studies and Preservation of Brazilian Indigenous Cultures;
  • “AcroYoga Beneficente” (fundraising AcroYoga) to raise donations for Instituto Nawá of Studies and Preservation of Brazilian Indigenous Cultures.

Can you talk about any collaborations or partnerships that TUAessence has undertaken to further its mission of sustainability and responsible production?

I have always partnered up with local artisans, artists, small businesses and shops, as well as NGOs to create events, collections, and projects since I was in university. My graduation project was very special and dear to me. In 2007, I developed costumes for the kids of Instituto Kairós’ music class with upcycled materials back when the term “Upcycling” didn’t exist yet. The clothes were made from old curtains and upholstery, and the sandals were made of bean sacks with old tires as soles.

How do you see the role of fashion evolving in the fight against climate change and the transition to a more sustainable and regenerative economy?

I can only see this through education. We have got to raise our collective awareness and engagement on what we buy, because in a capitalist world, every single time you choose to spend a single cent on something, you’re giving it a vote. You’re amplifying that product/company/idea/concept’s voice.

What advice would you give to aspiring ethical fashion designers who want to make a positive impact in the industry?

BE CURIOUS! Go live with the entire production chain. Get close and familiar with every single step. Learn where the raw materials/fabrics you want to use come from, how and where they were made. By whom? What’s the composition? Choose wisely the production processes (fibers, dyeing, printing, pigments), and especially the people who will be collaborating with you and establish real relationships with them. They aren’t numbers; they are lives, and the creative process is about CO-creation. To create is to relate. There’s no lush, healthy creative process without relationships. Go relate and live the whole process, from the supply chain to the final customer.

What is your favorite Brazilian food? Does climate change have any impact on it?

My favorite Brazilian food is Feijoada (black bean stew usually made with pork – even though I take the VG version as I don’t eat meat – rice, kale, and orange). Climate change, as well as production and consumption habits, have a direct impact on it. First of all, the animal farming industry and the spread of meat consumption drive farmers to destroy native forests to make pasture. Alongside animal farming, the plantations of transgenic soy, corn, and wheat to feed these animals cause the impoverishment of grain diversity in Brazil. Rice and beans are the basic meal in every Brazilian plate but, due to monoculture, Brazil has been importing rice and beans for over 10 years now. Instead of using our super-rich soil wisely to produce a great variety of food that will actually feed our people and animals, we’ve been enslaved by the monoculture industrial farming that deforests The Amazon to basically grow GMOs and abuse cattle for export.

How do you define success?

This is a tricky one… Success is to go to sleep and wake up with satisfaction and gratitude. Success is to live a healthy meaningful life surrounded by nature, animals, and people I love. Success is to have the freedom to come and go, establishing bonds of love and not domain. To leave planted trees, clean air, and freshwater, as well as a regenerated abundant planet filled with life and possibilities (like I found), to the ones to come yet.

How do you envision your future?

I have no clue (LOL). I hope I get to be in the middle of the woods or in the jungle, once again. Preferably by a pristine beach, with clean water, and fresh air, surrounded by nature, animals, and people I love.

What’s your mantra for life?

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU (May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May all my thoughts and actions contribute to that.)

Learn more about Fernanda Lopes Lima and her work at TUAessence.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond 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.

Nivi Murthy’s IKKIVI: Paving The Way For Sustainable Indian Fashion

Nivi Murthy’s IKKIVI: Paving The Way For Sustainable Indian Fashion

In a world where fashion is often synonymous with fast-paced trends and fleeting styles, there are passionate individuals who are reshaping the industry’s narrative. Meet Nivi Murthy, the visionary founder of IKKIVI, an online marketplace dedicated to sustainable and ethical Indian fashion. With a mission to provide a platform for talented designers who champion mindful practices, Nivi has transformed IKKIVI into a global destination that blends artistry, culture, and consciousness.

Amidst the bustling streets of the Indian fashion landscape, Nivi recognized the need for a space that showcased sustainable and ethical designs, amplifying the voices of those dedicated to making a positive impact. IKKIVI, the result of her unwavering commitment, has become a beacon of hope for designers and conscious consumers alike.

The birth of IKKIVI

Nivi’s journey began with a profound awakening when she watched the eye-opening documentary ‘The True Cost.’ The film shed light on the dark underbelly of the fashion industry, compelling her to take action and assume a greater responsibility. No longer content with being a mere platform, Nivi and her team at IKKIVI set out to raise awareness and actively contribute to the development of sustainable and ethical fashion.

Since its inception in 2015, IKKIVI has blossomed into a trusted marketplace, connecting conscious consumers with designers who embody the values of handcrafted excellence, use of natural and organic fabrics, fair trade practices, minimal waste, utilization of traditional techniques, and a commitment to vegan fashion. The platform has recently expanded and opened their headquarters in New York. With over 45 designers on board, IKKIVI is bridging the gap between the past and the present, fusing India’s rich cultural heritage with contemporary aesthetics.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the inspiring story behind IKKIVI and gain insights from the visionary herself. Join us as we explore Nivi Murthy’s unwavering commitment to sustainable fashion, the challenges she has faced, and the remarkable strides she has made in creating a better, more ethical future for the Indian fashion industry.

What inspired you to come up with the idea of IKKIVI?

The richness and depth of the fashion industry in India along with the talented growing number of independent contemporary designers made me want to create awareness and bring these brands to international markets.

What does sustainability in fashion mean to you as a conscious entrepreneur?

Quality, care and use for a long period of time is what sustainability means to me in the fashion industry. 

IKKIVI supports more than 45 brands from India. What makes these brands stand out to be a part of IKKIVI?

Unique aesthetic, quality and their strong values.

Having run IKKIVI for more than half a decade, what do you think is the current state of conscious consumerism in comparison to the time when you had just started your journey with IKKIVI?

Yes, a lot has changed over the years. The concept of sustainability in fashion hadn’t yet reached enough people. Now, consumers are a lot more aware and are thinking twice about making purchasing decisions. We see Gen Z being more conscious with thrifting being at the helm of it all. We are seeing a lot more brands reconnecting and redefining their visions and wanting to make a change with the power they have as conscious brands. There is still a long way to go but we are headed in the right direction.  

From your point of view, what is the current situation of the fashion scene in India right now?

Everyone has their eyes on India, looks like. It’s a great time to be in the fashion industry and wanting to take Indian brands international. There is more recognition and awareness beyond the stereotypes which is exciting. The amalgamation of traditional crafts and techniques with modern/international aesthetics is so beautiful and I’m excited to see that through the brands both established and young.

India is a big name when it comes to the global garments industry. But we know that the fast fashion industry still does not treat the garment workers with the fair living wage and respect that they deserve for their work. What do you think as a conscious entrepreneur needs to change?

I really appreciate the work that Fashion Revolution does with their ‘Who Made Our Clothes’ campaign. I feel such movements will put these large brands under the spotlight and scrutiny forcing them to change systemically. It is not going to be overnight but consumer awareness will increase a demand for change along with changemakers at the forefront demanding this systemic change.

Does the climate crisis affect your business? If yes, then what measures are you taking to mitigate and adapt?

I think it affects us all. As a small business we are taking small steps individually as well as creating awareness through our platforms with our community. But as an ecommerce business, our biggest footprint is shipping and packaging and we are slowly working on it step by step. First was using packaging that has the least negative impact and now we are working on grouping shipments for our international orders so as to avoid sending them individually.

What are the challenges that you had to overcome while trying to turn your incredible idea into a business?

One of the biggest challenges is finding the balance between doing business for profit  and being a conscious business (and the decisions that go with it). Still something we are trying to work on.

Photo of Nivi Murthy, founder of IKKIVI, a sustainable Indian ethical fashion marketplace

As an entrepreneur, how do you deal with negative emotions like self-doubt, criticism, or burnout and keep yourself motivated?

A strong support system, podcasts and the innate desire to solve problems and tackle challenges.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become a green entrepreneur?

Take it a step at a time, there is no rush to have it all check marked the day you start. It all takes time to figure out. Start and slowly work through the aspects of being a green business. We are still a work in progress and I think progress should be given more importance and recognition.

How do you define success?

When you are able to define the way you spend your day and live it as fully as you want to

What’s your mantra for life?

Do more of what makes you happy and excited.

Learn more about IKKIVI or connect with them on Instagram.

This is a 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.

The Last Fighter: Championing Sustainable Fashion in the Film Industry with Debora Frosini

The Last Fighter: Championing Sustainable Fashion in the Film Industry with Debora Frosini

The film industry has a significant influence on popular culture and trends, including fashion. As concerns about the environmental impact of the fashion industry continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly important to bring sustainability into all aspects of fashion, including the film industry. Promoting sustainable fashion in the film industry can not only raise awareness about the importance of sustainable practices but also encourage viewers to make more conscious fashion choices. Moreover, this can inspire designers, filmmakers, and consumers alike to consider the impact of their choices on the planet and take steps towards a more sustainable future. We had the pleasure of taking an interview with Debora Frosini, a sustainable fashion designer who recently collaborated with the Tuscany actress Shari Fontani to bring sustainable fashion to the big screen.

Debora’s Journey of Introducing Sustainable Fashion in the Film Industry

Debora Frosini’s journey in fashion started after high school after working for various brands in the knitwear industry. However, it was her collaboration with a sustainable fashion brand in Florence that led her towards a more sustainable approach to fashion. In 2021, Frosini launched her own sustainable knitwear brand, Atelier Biologico, which is inspired by nature, tradition, and Tuscan craftsmanship. Her passion for sustainability and fashion led her to collaborate with Fontani for Alessandro Baccini’s latest film, ‘The Last Fighter’, which brings attention to the Syrian war and sustainability. Frosini’s work on the costumes for the film showcases her commitment to sustainable fashion.

Poster of the movie "The Last Fighter". Used in this article which is titled "The Last Fighter: Championing Sustainable Fashion in the Film Industry with Debora Frosini"

Designing costumes for a film sounds like a dream job. Tell us about your journey to get where you are today.

I grew up in a family where I was lucky enough to always see my grandmothers, aunts, and mom sewing or knitting. After high school, I started working with my mother in her knitwear workshop. During that time, we worked for different designers and brands, so I was able to learn a lot. Later, I spent over ten years collaborating with one of the first sustainable brands in Italy. The founder was an agronomist who taught me so much about the fashion industry and its impacts on the environment. During those years, we collaborated with schools, brands, and even with special events and I met plenty of enthusiastic people in the field. 

When I realized what was happening in the fashion industry and how destructive it had become for our planet, I was shocked. Since that moment, my life had totally changed and I couldn’t look at the world around me with the same eyes. It was during that time when I met the Tuscany-based actress and model Shari Fontani and we became friends.

She was very interested in sustainable fashion and we collaborated on different projects like an ‘ARTIVISM’ shooting for a competition launched by Fashion Revolution Italy. Although we weren’t selected, I believe that artivism has no winners or losers. Artivism is just an art form to complain, to reflect, to do something active.

When Shari was chosen as the co-protagonist in Alessandro Baccini‘s film, she asked me to dress her up for the movie. After learning about the theme of the film and the story, I decided to go for it because it could be a wonderful opportunity to bring sustainable fashion to the cinema world. Nobody talks about what happens behind a movie’s production, nobody thinks about the environmental impact of the heaps of costumes used, creating the setups, the makeup, the gadgets used for the promotion, the meals, and so on. Could you imagine a zero-impact film production? How wonderful it would be.

To me, my ‘masterpiece’ was the elegant long dress that Shari wore at the Venice Film Festival in 2019. I made it using certified organic undyed linen with my mom’s help who collaborates with me in our knitwear atelier. Can you believe that I had it in my mind before starting to make it?

So, all in all, my dream slowly came true as I got the opportunity to show the world that another kind of fashion is possible; a fashion with zero negative impact on the environment, a fashion that has elegant and simple designs that reflect the symbol of my atelier thanks to the small roses on it.

What were your inspirations for designing costumes for “The Last Fighter”?

Photo of of a scene from the Italian movie "The Last Fighter" featuring Actress Shari Fontani looking at the night sky
Scene from the movie “The Last Fighter” featuring Shari Fontani

To design and make the costumes of Shari Fontani in ‘The Last Fighter’ film, I was inspired by her character. She plays a young beautiful woman, who is a doctor and later becomes a mother-to-be. She wore clothes with simple timeless designs to spread an important message, which is – don’t follow trends, be your own trend. Be yourself and take care of your clothes. 

I think wearing clothes with simple designs is easier to match and re-wear. And choosing colors we love and not following trends help us to make the best use of our clothes, giving them longer lifespans.

What challenge(s) did you face while designing these costumes to bring sustainable fashion in the film industry?

The ‘challenge’ was to use fibers with the lowest environmental impact and make sure that no workers were exploited in the process. We made the costumes in the same place with our own hands, with the highest transparency. But being able to support the local handcrafting culture is a dreamy opportunity and I’m deeply grateful for this.

What inspired you to become a member of the Slow Fashion Movement Italia?

I’ve been a member of Slow Fashion Italia since November 2022, so very recently. I decided to join them because I love collaborating to educate people and being a part of a group that does that too was something exceptionally wonderful, especially because I had the opportunity to exchange ideas, opinions, and experiences with other members.

There are so many people in the world who are still either unaware or don’t want to believe in climate change – people who don’t take any interest in knowing who made their clothes and in what conditions, or anything about the fashion industry’s impact. So I think educating them about those things is important. And doing so with the help of a community can really make a difference.

Related: Conversation with Lena Hartog On Her Journey With Slow Fashion Movement

Tell us how you feel about working as a part of the team of award-winning filmmakers and producers like Alessandro Baccini and Domenico Costanzo?

To me, collaborating with Alessandro Baccini, the award-winning filmmaker and producer Domenico Costanzo along with actress Shari Fontani was a dreamy opportunity. I always loved movies and always hoped to be part of new projects in them in the future.

When I met them, the best thing I noticed about them was how much passion they put in their work. I couldn’t be more proud of this collaboration and a special thanks goes to all of the members of the movie cast.

Your friend, actress Shari Fontani rocked your beautiful pieces on the red carpets. Tell us how she feels about your work and slow fashion. 

When I met Shari for the very first time, she was really attracted to my work. She is someone who really understands the importance of slow fashion with a low impact on our planet. Since then, she has always been a great supporter and a beautiful model for my dresses. 

I think finding someone in the ‘stars system’ who pays so much attention to the environment is very important. There are lots of young people looking up to them as icons. So, I think when someone is popular, it’s their duty to set a good example. And Shari is doing a wonderful job at that.

Tell us about Atelier Biologico. How do you practice and promote slow fashion through your brand?

Atelier Biologico is my soul. It brings in its collections everything I learned and everything that I am. Every single piece is designed and thought to represent a message for future generations. Every single piece is born from a dream, an idea that later became real, slowly through the hands of two generations with the creativity and manuality of more.

Atelier Biologico was born almost 2 years ago after a long journey of spending a terrible time during the pandemic when I finally found the courage to start it off. My work started with deep research focused on yarn and how to work with it by having the lowest impact on the environment; humans and all creatures who live on our beautiful planet.

Atelier Biologico is a representative member of Florentine culture. In the past, we had so many people who worked with the loom, especially in Prato. Nowadays we are risking losing most of the authentic artisanal works in the name of profit. 

With my knitwear brand, I want to make clothes to measure, repair or modify yours. I usually make small capsule collections or unique pieces. I love sharing my work on socials, collaborating with organizations and schools, and participating in events because these are great opportunities for educating, ideas exchange and meeting other beautiful artists or conscious living promoters.

As a fashion designer and entrepreneur, how do you envision the future of the fashion industry?

I learned to live in the present so I don’t know what the future of the fashion industry will be. But I know what we can do today. We need to find a way to push strict laws about factors like ensuring workers’ rights, ethical supply chain processes for fibers, and the chemical dyes used in our clothing. But above all, we must start asking ourselves questions; and we need to stop thinking that someone else will save us. We are our own superheroes. If we all start taking small steps every day, I’m pretty sure we’ll see a big change in the world in a short time.

We just need to believe it.

What are your future plans?

I do and always will live in the present and follow my fate doing what I love and I’m glad for all the unexpected opportunities that life has given me so far.

Debora’s work of promoting sustainable fashion in the film industry surely adds a stepping stone towards a more sustainable world because it will not only encourage viewers to make more conscious fashion choices but also inspire aspiring designers, filmmakers, and consumers alike to consider the impact of their choices on the planet and take steps towards a more sustainable future.

Photographers: Danilo Cappabanca, Suyen Tommasi, Paolo Catucci and Francesco Pianigiani.

Find Debora Frosini and learn more about her work at Atelier Biologico here.

Nature’s Harmony: Inanna’s Journey in Singing for the Planet

Nature’s Harmony: Inanna’s Journey in Singing for the Planet

Music is a magical form of art that has the power to touch souls. It has a way of connecting people, beyond language barriers and cultural differences. Music fosters a sense of belonging and community by enabling people to express themselves and engage with others on a deeper level. As we listen to music, we are taken to a world of emotions and feelings that can make us feel alive, bring us peace, or even inspire us to take actions.

And it’s not just people who create music. With its own distinctive sounds and rhythms, nature contributes to this symphony as well. Birds tweeting, leaves rustling in the breeze, and waves crashing on the shore: these natural sounds influence musicians and artists to produce music that captures the splendor and majesty of our planet.

Inanna, also known as Annalisa G. Dunker is one such musician who uses her art to promote environmental sustainability and inspire people to take action for the future of our planet. Through her soulful songs and fascinating videos, Inanna conveys a message of harmony and hope. She believes that music can be a powerful force for change, uniting people to safeguard the environment and build a better future for future generations.

In this exclusive interview, we speak with Inanna about her journey as a musician, her inspiration for writing about environmental issues, and how she envisions her music influencing the world for the better. So sit back, relax, and join us as we delve deeper into the world of Inanna and her music.

What inspired you to use your creativity and imagination in singing for the planet?

I moved here to Los Angeles in the summer of 2018, I knew that at that point I had a clean page that I could start again, in this city with many things that I am passionate about. It was actually very easy, kind of a quick-change, not only of life but of career in general. 

Music-wise, I had done a lot of things before – I had been a singer before in several bands and projects, but I kind of felt I still needed to find my own voice. And this time, I really wanted to do it with something with a deeper meaning with something that I could really stand for.

So the project started because I moved here and I wanted to do something on my own – produce music on my own, find my own sound and my own real voice in the music and I wanted my music to have a specific message. In this case, it was speaking up for the environment and the future of nature, the future of animals and the whole planet. And so I simply decided to dedicate all my music to that. 

I really felt I had to do it because in those times, especially in early 2019 with all the new protests and Greta Thunberg and all the movements that were appearing more and more, everywhere I felt I wanted to do more apart from just changing my daily habits, or do little modifications in my daily life. I really wanted to speak up and to contribute to a cultural change and I thought – “What’s better than to be able to change culture itself? ” And I thought that I would do it through music because it’s one of my skills and one of my passions and that’s how it happened. 

So, I’ve been working on all these songs and all the imagery and products around it since 2019. 2019 was the time when my very first single that came out. It came out in May 2019.

What inspired you to take the name “Inanna” and what does that mean to you?

Inanna is the name of the Sumerian goddess of love and harvest but also war and justice. I thought, the name of a goddess is something timeless that would be good for this project because I want to give a timeless feel to my music. And also, I’m talking about such enormous topics and issues. I’m taking on this task of discussing the future of humans on the planet and the future of nature – the future in general. So I thought that maybe, only the name of a goddess could contain all that.

I think what I loved the most in Inanna is her duality as a goddess figure. I felt it really fit with this project because on one hand with this music, I’m trying to invite people into a possible world where things are done better, where we reach a higher place, a better place in our relationship with animals and nature. But on the other hand there is witnessing and acknowledging everything that is happening and everything that we’ve done. 

So there is this dual thing of the need for love and togetherness and connection and work all together but also the rage and the sadness for everything that unfortunately humans have done to the planet and animals. So I really thought it was a perfect match. I also liked that the name contained part of my birth name, which is Annalisa and this “Inanna” had a little bit of a part of me too, so I feel that Inanna is kind of an amplified version of myself.

Do you think art – different forms of art, can play a significant role to motivate people to take actions in their daily lives, especially now, when the climate crisis is getting worse with every passing day? 

I think that all art forms and music in particular, play an enormous role in cultural and social change. Arts have an incredible power to bring people together to inspire collectivity. They have the power to speak to conscious and unconscious layers of ourselves. And that’s why in many people at many times and all points in time, they have the capacity to create these moments inside a person where you understand something in a much deeper way, in a way that only a piece of art can make you see or understand. So, I have a deep respect for all artists who are using their skills and their capacities and their tools to speak up for the things that we should definitely change, revise, redefine.

Another factor that is very important when it comes to Arts is their kind of ritualistic power, specially with music. Not only they bring a group of people together but all the people get to feel something together at the same time and even if it’s different, maybe from person to person but there is something in common, like a common ritual and I love ritualistic events because I always say – “Rituals are made to get one person into the ritual as a person and then when they go out of the ritual, they actually go out as someone else because the ritual actually does something to you”. And I feel that is exactly what I’m trying to do with my music and I feel that’s what the Arts should do, to really make you feel different after you experience that piece of art.

How can artists collaborate to make the climate movement stronger and more fruitful?

Artists can collaborate in so many different ways. I have seen it lately especially from the very beginning of this second big wave of the environmentalist movement that is growing and growing – I have seen so many organizations, associations, platforms, digital platforms and artistic endeavors being born in the last three and a half years. At the beginning of 2019, I thought I was maybe one of the only ones that were doing this – as a musician. But I’ve seen so many things happening since then and artists can definitely find so many ways to collaborate in events where they can do things together, support each other, uplift each other, help each other. 

So, what I do personally is really try to stimulate and give a further impulse to gatherings like, really doing things together, whether it is an event where we talked or there is an artistic community coming together for a concert, or maybe I’ve been getting in touch with a lot of other organizations to see if we can do something together. I think, especially in these times, uplifting each other and togetherness is one of the most important things we can do. We should not see each other as competing artists or competing organizations. Because we’re really talking about the future of everything, the future of our soul. And if there’s something that we all have in common is this home, this planet and we must take care of it together.

So what I definitely recommend to all artists, entrepreneurs who are speaking up for the future of the planet and working for the future of the planet – “Get in touch to try to do things together. You’re not alone. There are so many other people doing the same and together, you’re stronger together. Together is much better.”

What do you think are needed as ingredients of a song that can create that can inspire change?

I don’t want to talk about the ingredients to make a perfect commercial song, that works for sure in a radio context or in a TV show context. To me, what really matters is speaking to two different levels in a person. Like if you have a catchy song, that’s great because it’s already the first element that will get to someone, but if that song already has a message that’s even better. And from that message, if you have different layers that will touch and communicate to different people – that’s even better. I think it’s about making it really broad and generous.

I think with the meaning you really want to try to communicate something from who you are from an authentic place. I always try to write from who I am and what I really think. I never write thinking – “Oh what is going to make people feel good or what is going to sell?” I always try to be as authentic as possible and I think that’s the best ingredient that you can put in any piece of art, for sure.

Polluters have surely lost the empathetic connection with nature, and we believe that your songs have the power to mend that connection which might make them take a stand on the right side. How do you plan to get your music to reach them?

As I was saying, the way I am trying to reach people wherever they are in life and wherever they are in the world and whatever historical experiences they have is to try to meet them where they are and to simply invite them to another view, another way of seeing things, I really think it’s important not to impose certain views.

Because we don’t know where other people come from and their past experiences and their life history. So I think one element is to be able to invite someone into something you deeply believe, as you know, your life mission and you think it’s really important for everyone. And for the future is to try to invite with generosity and invite with a smile and always try to make people try to feel what you feel like.

I really want to gather people around me, through a sense of understanding and empathy. I don’t want to blame even if I know it’s hard because we get very angry sometimes, especially environmentalists or animalists, we always think – “Oh my goodness, this is never gonna get fixed. How can some people do this? And they don’t see it.” Of course, I have those moments too and we all have, but I don’t think it’s the most effective way to invite people to what we consider the right side. I think you always have to meet people where they are and understand the enormous complexity of certain systems.

So, I think that it should always start from a place of compassion and empathy, you should always try to meet everyone where they are at, even if you know, that certain people or organizations are actively working against the future of nature and everything, we know of this planet, but the reality is so incredibly complex that the best way we have, probably, the only way we have is to try to invite always through compassion and understanding.

What’s your take on climate optimism as an artist and an activist?

I have to say that it gets very hard at times to be optimistic. Because even if I am constantly surrounded by incredible communities of environmentalists and animal rights activists that make me feel that everything is possible – that we are changing the world conversation by conversation, little by little, song by song, but at the same time you also see the tendencies and what’s going on in the world every day, it’s tough to see that a lot of things are not changing at all. But I always tell myself, – “Should I just give up because I don’t see the change that I want to see? And in the time frame that I want to see it?”

I know what I stand for and I know what I believe in. I am dreaming of a future where nature is always considered in every decision of society and economy. I’m dreaming of a society where animals are not exploited anymore, and are not mistreated anymore. And it’s a society that I acknowledge. I don’t acknowledge animals as other beings that live here on Earth with us and not for our own benefit for us.

So, I’ll just keep working for that, and I know that, even if the changes are not as fast as I would like them to be, changes are definitely happening. And that’s what keeps me optimistic. Because I see that change happening around me every day, even in the arts.

Where do you think “spirituality” stands with art and activism? Do you think that understanding “spirituality” is important to feel more environmentally empathetic?

Yeah, definitely. There is a kind of spiritual element in my songs. To me, it translates into something very simple, which is a feeling of reverence. To me that’s what spirituality is in general. It’s this feeling of reverence towards everything that is alive towards the beauty, amazing, incredible wonders, that this planet has, this incredible biodiversity of all animals, all earthlings. The feeling of reverence when you really see that and take that in is automatically spiritual to me. And that’s the feeling of rediscovered awe, that I would like to transmit through my songs and through the imagery and everything that I’m trying to do. So I guess it’s just that big feeling of awe and reverence towards the Earth and all Earthlings.

Tell us about your favorite song and why it’s your favorite.

It’s difficult because I’m very attached to several of the songs, of course, on different levels, and for different reasons. But I think that if I had to choose one, I think I would still choose “Change” which came out last year for Earth Day. 

I think mostly because it’s the one that probably sums up the whole Inanna style among all the other songs. Because it’s got a powerful message, it’s got a little bit of the rage, it’s got a hopeful message of togetherness and coming together for something, it’s got a little bit of Middle Eastern hint – which is something that I do. I feel it’s a song that really summarizes a lot of what Inanna is. So I think I would still pick that one. Yeah, it’s definitely “Change.”

Who are your biggest inspirations?

People that have inspired me and that keep inspiring me – I have to say, one of the first ones that really made an impact was Charlie Chaplin and it all started because of my grandfather who was very passionate about him and all his movies. This may have got nothing to do with the environmental movement but I loved the fact that he had such a clear vision for everything that he did. His movies and everything was almost made by him single-handedly. I simply admire that all his art was really his fruit, like his product from top to toe because it was really coming from an authentic place of who he was and what he believed in. 

Other inspirational figures, definitely all the current environmentalists that are doing so much for the planet. I always loved Jane Goodall – absolutely a hero of mine. I really admire what Leonardo DiCaprio is doing. I really hope to meet him at some point. I really admire all the work he’s doing and all the documentaries that he is funding. 

Knowledge is power – when we know, when we’re aware of things, we can choose better, we can do better. So every artist that really takes time and spends resources in spreading knowledge, I have a very, very big admiration for them.

Another person I really admire that I have had the honor to meet lately is Maggie Baird. She’s the founder and president of “Support and Feed” an organization that I love. Maggie is Billie Eilish’s mother. She’s been working so hard to promote the plant-based equitable food system. And I really hope her organization will grow more and more because it’s really fantastic what they’re doing.

What’s your mantra for life?

I don’t know if it’s actually a mantra for life but I love to sign my newsletters and my messages to my fans and people that know the Inanna project with this little sentence –  “A hand is a paw is a fin is a wing. – Inanna.”

Find Inanna and learn more about her at www.inannamusic.com

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond 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.

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