Material Mastery: Fashion Brands Leading the Charge in Sustainability

Material Mastery: Fashion Brands Leading the Charge in Sustainability

As the fashion industry evolves, a new wave of fashion brands are demonstrating that it’s possible to create garments that honor cultural heritage, consider the environment, and protect animal rights. Utilizing next-generation materials and innovative design, these brands are at the forefront of a burgeoning revolution in sustainable fashion. As always, the most sustainable option is to not buy anything new at all. And, we are still in the early stages of exploring and adopting advanced materials. With that in mind we’re taking a look at brands that are taking bold strides forward, employing some of the best options available to date. Their commitment is reshaping the industry, proving that fashion can be both stylish and conscientiously crafted.

Lost Woods: The Epitome of Eco-Luxury

Lost Woods - luxury vegan handbags made with a zero-plastic, plant-based material.
Lost Woods – luxury vegan handbags made with a zero-plastic, plant-based material.

Lost Woods, an Australian luxury handbag label created by Holly Edwards, crafts its products in Portugal using high-quality, plastic-free vegan leather. The brand’s name is a tribute to the forests and wildlife lost to traditional leather production, which is a major cause of deforestation globally. Lost Woods combines sustainability with high fashion through its use of MIRUM®, a material celebrated for its luxurious look and durability. The brand sets a high standard for industry transparency, extensively detailing its manufacturing process online and educating consumers about sustainable materials through its blog.

No. 49: A Vision of Sustainable Style

No. 49 uses a variety of more sustainable materials including apple leather as seen here.
No. 49 uses a variety of more sustainable materials including apple leather as seen here.

At the age of 49, Rosanne Wood founded No. 49, a brand that embodies new beginnings and growth, as reflected in its numerological significance. This brand champions materials like apple leather, which uses significantly less fossil fuels compared to animal leather or regular polyurethane synthetic leather. Other materials include recycled cotton, recycled polyurethane, bamboo leather, and Raffia. Their benefits can all be found on the brand’s website. No. 49 is not just about aesthetics; it actively contributes to environmental protection by removing two pounds of non-recyclable plastic waste for every handbag sold and partnering with firms that work to reduce airborne carbon.

Jummobi Apparel: Culture and Compassion

Handmade, slow fashion clothing by Jummobi Apparel. Photo credit: Sporko Photo.
Handmade, slow fashion clothing by Jummobi Apparel. Photo credit: Sporko Photo.

Juliana Chakma L., founder of Jummobi Apparel, is dedicated to preserving her Indigenous Southeast Asian heritage through fashion. The brand offers a line of slow fashion clothing and cruelty-free beauty products that incorporate traditional patterns and vegan materials. Juliana’s upbringing instilled a deep respect for life, which she channels into her brand, celebrating the spirit of Indigenous women, “the women of the hills.”

jeane+jax : Redefining Luxury

jeane+jax proves that beautiful luxury handbags can be made without the use of animals or plastic.
jeane+jax proves that beautiful luxury handbags can be made without the use of animals or plastic.

Founded by Silvia Gallo in 2014, jeane+jax is on a mission to redefine luxury fashion by prioritizing sustainable practices and materials. Known for their innovative use of MIRUM®, a revolutionary plant-based leather alternative free from plastics, the brand is committed to creating high-quality, luxurious handbags that support eco-consciousness. By embracing transparency and a “Total Ethics Fashion” model, jeane+jax is leading the change towards a more earth-friendly future in the fashion industry.

Mili & Maxie: Tradition Meets Tomorrow

Mili & Maxie handbags are made from DESSERTO®, the world's first “cactus leather”; an organic material made of Nopal cactus
Mili & Maxie handbags are made from DESSERTO®, the world’s first “cactus leather”; an organic material made of Nopal cactus

Mili & Maxie, birthed from the vision of Toronto-based couple Minal and Lakshya, crafts luxury vegan handbags from DESSERTO®, a cactus-based material. This material requires only natural rainfall to make and the cacti are a carbon sink. With production rooted in India, the brand honors its cultural heritage through meticulous craftsmanship by local artisans, merging traditional techniques with modern ethical practices.

Segan: Redefining the Norm

Segan is a mysterious and intriguing lifestyle brand. Image credit: Sporko Photo.
Segan is a mysterious and intriguing lifestyle brand. Image credit: Sporko Photo.

Vancouver’s Segan, led by Mahdi Terani, invites fashion enthusiasts to partake in a conceptual experience that transcends typical design. The brand fosters a community akin to an artistic speakeasy, offering an array of handbags and jewelry made exclusively from non-plastic vegan materials, advocating for ecological responsibility over trend conformity.

This era of sustainable fashion innovation is truly exciting. It highlights the industry’s long-awaited shift towards materials and methods that respect culture, the environment, and animals.  Exceptional fashion brands like those we’ve explored are leading the charge, prioritizing ethical practices as much as style.

But the movement doesn’t stop there. As these brands continue to innovate and inspire, we can expect a future where fashion empowers cultural expression, protects our planet, and respects all living creatures. This shift requires not just industry change, but a shift in consumer consciousness. By supporting ethical brands, we cast a vote with our wallets, weaving a future where fashion ignites not just our personal style, but a collective passion for a more sustainable world.

Cover image credit: Jim Orgill Photography

Threads of Consciousness: Jane Milburn and the EFWA Legacy

Threads of Consciousness: Jane Milburn and the EFWA Legacy

Within the dynamic world of Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA), Jane Milburn emerges not just as a Sustainability Advisor but as a seasoned storyteller, weaving tales of purpose and transformation. Her roots trace back to a sheep farm in New Zealand, a foundation that instilled life skills and an intimate connection to nature. Jane’s journey aligns with the rhythm of slow fashion, cultivated on the principles of mindfulness and resourcefulness.

Jane, a sustainability consultant and author of ‘Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear,’ delves into her early influences and the seamless integration of slow fashion into her life. Her career, navigating through agricultural science and rural advocacy, led her to champion the cause of slow clothing as an antidote to the rapid pace of the fashion industry. As a key figure in EFWA, she brings not just expertise but a profound commitment to natural fibers, sustainability, and a shared ethos that forms the close-knit family of EFWA.

In this exclusive interview, Jane shares insights into her role as the coordinator for the upcoming EFWA Upcycling Challenge 2024, a platform where designers breathe new life into dormant textiles, echoing Jane’s own journey of upcycling. EFWA, under Jane’s influence, transcends the conventional fashion narrative. It stands as a beacon for raising awareness about the environmental impacts of the fashion industry, a cause Jane passionately advocates. As we unravel the layers of Jane’s journey, it becomes apparent that she doesn’t just speak of sustainability; she lives it, fostering a community that echoes the principles of mindful living in the fashion world.

Could you share a bit about your early influences and what sparked your interest in sustainability, especially in the context of clothing and textiles? 

Sustainability has always been intuitive to me. We (humans) are part of nature so we can’t waste, pollute and overuse natural resources if we want to keep living. Looking back, I have always been a slow fashion practitioner. I grew up on a sheep farm in New Zealand and saw natural systems at work. I learned life-skills (to cook, grow, sew, knit and crochet from my ancestors) from my Great Grandma, Nana, Mum, Dad and Aunts. We moved to Australia for education and I graduated in agricultural science: always loving the natural fibres and being resourceful and creative with my clothing as an undergraduate. I had a decades-long professional career in rural journalism and communications before winning an opportunity to join the Australian Rural Leadership Program. The insight and perspectives from that postgraduate leadership training led to me stepping up to advocate for slow clothing as an antidote for fast fashion. My key interest is always in natural fibres and educating around the fact that the synthetic fibres (from which two-thirds of clothing are made) is actually plastic, polluting our ecosystems with microplastics and impacting personal and planetary health in ways that we are only beginning to understand. 

Can you share how your journey intertwined with Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) and how you became a part of this sustainable fashion community? 

I had been speaking out about the unsustainability of fast fashion culture for five years when Zuhal got in touch out of the blue and invited me to be involved in Eco Fashion Week Australia. That first event in November 2017 gave me a deadline for my book (Slow Clothing) and I was thrilled to have copies available at the sustainability seminar that Zuhal organised as part of the week. Up until that point, most fashion events were about the spectacle of beautiful bodies and exciting styles without any explanation or discussion about clothing culture, inclusive styles and sustainability issues.

EFWA is often described as a close-knit family. Could you please share your thoughts on that? 

Everyone involved with EFWA has shared values. We value natural fibres, sustainability, as well as kindness and care for all people and things. We all have a common purpose of raising awareness and influencing change in the creation and culture around clothing that is an essential part of living a good life. The huge effort Zuhal has put into creating EFWA is admirable and I support her endeavours in any way I can.

As the coordinator for the EFWA Upcycling Challenge 2024, can you tell us more about the challenge and its significance in promoting sustainability? 

Upcycling is all about seeing potential in dormant, damaged or waste resources and reviving them for a creative new life. For the Upcycling Challenge 2024, we’re asking designers to find a hero textile – a beautiful piece of cloth that may be sentimental, from a damaged garment or rescued from an op shop – and use that as the spark to join with other pieces of dormant cloth to create a fresh ‘’new’’ garment with a great story to tell about how it came to be in the world. Really the brief is wide-open, except on the choice of fibres which is a preference for natural fibres. We’ll be calling for expressions of interest in February 2024.

What role do you think EFWA plays in raising awareness about the environmental impact of the fashion industry? 

By its very presence, EFWA is a leader in raising awareness about sustainability issues – such as its waste, pollution, exploitation, biodiversity loss and climate-change impacts – that the fashion industry tried to ignore and is still grappling with. Through its focus on natural fibres, craft techniques, unique designs and creative reuse, EFWA is a platform for conversations about quality over quantity and the toxic problem of microplastics shedding from synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels. EFWA is not focused on selling volumes or trends, it is focused on the meaning and special value of forever-garments that we want to bring into our wardrobes and hold on to. It provides a beautiful and ethical counter to single-use fashion, fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion.

Looking into the future, what are your hopes for EFWA? 

I wish Zuhal all the best for the future because it is her energy and creative direction on which EFWA depends. We all have lived experience of extreme weather events and understand that more anthropogenic changes are pending unless we dramatically change consumer culture that has become the norm in western societies. EFWA is part of the essential need for humans to be living in tune with nature. It is part of the Biorennaisance we need for survival, which noted human ecologist Professor Stephen Boyden wrote about in his ninth and most recently published book Biorennaisance: The story of life on Earth, including the recent rise of human civilisation and its impacts on the rest of the living world. 

What inspired you to establish Textile Beat, and what specific goals did you aim to achieve through this platform? 

EFWA advisor Jane Milburn in upcycled Silk dress
Photo by Robin McConchie

I set up Textile Beat in 2013 as a platform for speaking out about the way we choose, use and dispose of our clothing in a fast-fashion world. As someone outside the fashion industry with no vested interests, I had an independent voice and could raise issues such as fashion excess, textile waste, the second-hand export trade and that synthetics were hidden in two-thirds of our clothes.  I had never been much of a follower of fashion and trends because I’ve always dressed creatively by thriving, adapting and making some of my own clothes. Through my decade-long advocacy in this space, I now realise the entire fashion system was developed to make us feel dissatisfied so every season (or every week) we go out and buy more stuff.  

I won a Churchill Fellowship about the ecological and wellbeing benefits of being more engaged with our clothes and met amazing people with insight. One of those people, Cal Patch, described fashion as a scam that has planned obsolescence as its modus operandi. Cal had studied and worked in fashion before moving to teach people how to make their own clothes One was Associate Professor Otto von Busch from New York Parsons School of Design who said: “Fashion thrives on people’s uncertainties and anxieties. It needs people to not feel good about themselves, to come back next season and buy new clothes otherwise they lose their market.” 

Jane Milburn on the Great Marshes Cape Cod during her Churchill Fellowship
Jane Milburn on the Great Marshes Cape Cod during her Churchill Fellowship

He said “fashion consumption today is so user friendly, low cost and accessible … everything is just a click away and, of course, that becomes the easiest way to engage with the world. So people think why would I need to learn other skills then? And I think that this produces more alienation and traps us where we become dependent on the freedom that our money buys us, rather than the freedom of our own agency to do things ourselves.

But like Otto, I believe that the transformation of clothing (thrifting, upcycling, remaking) and the transformation of self are connected. Gaining skills to tinker our clothes helps cultivate courage to play and experiment with our clothes, our style and ourselves based on resources that are all around us. My Churchill Fellowship report is freely available, on the Churchill Trust website or my Textile Beat website for anyone interested.

Your book, “Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear,” is a cornerstone in the slow fashion movement. What inspired you to write it, and what message did you aim to convey? 

The book was published in 2017 as a way to consolidate thoughts, ideas and actions that I had been writing about on my websites and in the preceding years. It is about slow clothing philosophy as a way of choosing, wearing and caring for clothes so they bring value, meaning and joy to everyday life. It is a book about living simply based on actions and choices that are “old-fashioned’’ common sense if we want to reduce our material footprint in a climate-changing world.


What advice do you have for individuals who aspire to contribute to the sustainable fashion movement?

Changing behaviours, attitudes and choices is the space I work in and what I’m most familiar with. Something to remember is that sustainable fashion is not a new product, it’s an attitude. The most sustainable garments are the ones we already own. Try up-styling and upcycling what is already around you (in your wardrobe or local opshop) before buying new. Things to remember are: focus on quality over quantity, choose natural fibres wherever possible, and make ethical and authentic choices in everything you do. Garment making is skilled work and people with skills deserve to be paid appropriately. If the price seems too cheap, then someone somewhere else will be paying (or is being exploited and underpaid).

Click to find out more about Jane Milburn and Eco Fashion Week Australia.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Fast Fashion x Designer: Accessibility or Exploitative Marketing?

Fast Fashion x Designer: Accessibility or Exploitative Marketing?

Love it or leave it, designer collaborations aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they are sought after. The major collab that had everyone buzzing in 2023 was H&M x Mugler, which launched in May 2023 and within 24 hours was almost completely sold out. Perhaps this goes without saying, H&M is a fast fashion brand. Fast fashion brands mass-produce garments in unsafe working conditions, under threats of violence and job loss in, largely, the global south. But the exploitation doesn’t stop there. What many consumers don’t understand, and this is by design and lack of transparency in supply chains, is that in order to keep prices low, brands pay their garment workers poverty wages. What’s more, is that these practices grossly exploit the environment. The United States alone accounts for 11.3 million tons of textile waste per year. Which is the equivalent of about 81.5 pounds of clothing thrown away per American per year.

Designer Drops, Fast Fashion Fever: Why Collabs?

Streetwear Fashion models posing for fashion brand photoshoot
Photo by Cottonbro Studios

So, let’s talk about it. Or more appropriately, let’s talk about high-low fashion collaborations in general. 

We’ll start with, why? Why collaborate at all? Why would a fashion house, a designer brand, sully their name by collaborating with a fast fashion brand? Especially when they put up such a fuss about exclusivity that they often damage their excess and unsold garments and goods by quite literally slashing and burning them. But collaborating with a fast fashion brand that sells cheap garments is totally acceptable and within their exclusivity framework? Questions abound.

While many designers and fast fashion brands will champion accessibility as the primary focus of collaboration collections, we all know the truth, right? Greed. Well, bolstered profit through cross-promotion and thus, greed. But as with all things in the fashion industry, the real answer is far more complex and nuanced.

A Brief History of Fast Fashion x Designer Collabs

A vintage pocket watch
Photo by Fredrick Eankels

H&M might be the most recognized for their high-low designer collabs, but they aren’t the first. Target introduced its first high-low collaboration with renowned architect Michael Graves in 1999. But their fashion designer collabs began with Stephen Sprouse in 2002 and really took off with Isaac Mizrahi in 2003.

Perhaps Target’s 2011 collaboration with Missoni is the perfect example of why fashion houses partner with fast fashion brands or big box stores. Through what they called their Designer Collaboration Initiative, Target’s partnership with Missoni outpaced any Cyber Monday or Black Friday online traffic up until that point. This partnership wasn’t restricted to just clothing, the collection featured 400 products across departments. The overwhelming demand crashed the Target website several times and the collection sold out within a few days.  

It wasn’t just Target and H&M that were testing the waters and building a collaboration empire. If you’re not in the streetwear scene, you might have missed all the collaborations that are an inherent piece of the puzzle. Collaborations in streetwear have been a long-standing staple. And much like the streetwear aesthetic, designer collaborations have been commodified outside of the community that was responsible for creating it. 

This should go without saying, but a strong, well-thought-out collaboration leverages the creative and elemental gifts of both parties. The resulting collaboration should look like a fusing of the brands or designers. The two should play together nicely, highlighting each other’s strengths while playing to the compatibility of the two. Streetwear collaborations were, and in many aspects still are, the blueprint for all collaborations.

Fast Fashion’s Dirty Secret: Exploitation Beyond the Runway

A woman wrapped in plastic with her mouth sealed shut
Photo by Anna Shvets

We can’t really discuss designer, or brand collaborations without giving a huge nod to streetwear and the community behind it.

Much like many millennials, the streetwear scene was born in the 80’s and raised in the 90’s. Think, RUN DMC as your streetwear icons, your OG royalty of the scene. Like many fashion aesthetics, streetwear has evolved over the years but I always envision RUN DMC, their influence on hip-hop culture is undeniable and they set the bar in so many ways.

While RUN DMC was slaying the streetwear game in the 80’s and 90’s, streetwear wasn’t accepted as mainstream until the 00’s (the Zeros) and really became a staple in the fashion space in the 2010s, read Virgil Abloh and Off-White, god rest him. Streetwear’s rise to mainstream acceptance and success was largely due to small, independent labels collaborating with each other as well as with larger mainstream brands. These strategic partnerships exposed streetwear brands to audiences of a much greater scale, hence the reasoning behind what fast fashion and designer collaborations aimed to emulate and exploit. 

Streetwear Fashion models posing for fashion brand photoshoot

Essentially it is this, fast fashion brands have a massive scope. Just consider the marketing dollars a brand would have to have if they are paying their garment workers a substandard wage, exploiting the planet, and using mostly fossil-fuel-derived fabrics. There is so little oversight and regulation that brands are practically encouraged to exploit every facet of production in the reckless name of exponential growth. So, why not capitalize on a growth opportunity disguised as low-cost designer wear?

Like many of my contemporaries, when I think of high-low designer collabs, I think H&M. And that’s not for nothing, there are a lot of marketing dollars and psychology that went into conditioning me to think that way.

History of H&M Collaborations

H&M has been partnering with designer brands since 2004 with a Karl Lagerfeld collection that changed the face of the whole industry. Often, and for good reason, fast fashion brands are accused of stealing designer’s runway and ready-to-wear looks in efforts to bring “trends” to the masses at deep discounts. But by partnering with Lagerfeld (and by extension Chanel and Fendi) H&M told consumers that they were more than just copycats. 

Mannequins in a shop posing for fashion brand
Photo by DanFLCreativo

Then, in 2005, Stella McCartney (a champion of sustainability) partnered with H&M to launch a line of low-priced separates. Now, to be fair to her, Rana Plaza didn’t happen until 2013 and the supply chain issues that shroud the industry in secrecy hadn’t yet had the curtain pulled back to reveal their moment of reckoning. Well, they haven’t had their reckoning yet, not really, but there has at least been more pressure and consumer demand for it. And through that sustained pressure, The Bangladesh and Pakistan Accords were born. 

But my favorite part about the Stella McCartney collab story is that the campaign largely had to be pulled because Kate Moss was the main model and just before the launch, news came out about her drug use. Read, the personal choices of an individual are what halts a campaign not the atrocious working conditions or below-standard of living pay rate of garment workers. 

And let’s not get that twisted. I am not condoning or condemning her drug use, I just think it is funny what people get upset about. Kate Moss’s personal decision to use drugs forces a brand’s hand to cut ties because she is the face of the campaign. But the treatment of the faceless women on which the whole H&M empire is built, the individuals who make all the garments, that is not enough reason to hold a brand (an industry) accountable. At the very least, let’s hope that all the individuals/creatives involved in the Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, H&M campaign were paid for their work

Bangladeshi Garment workers working in a garment factory
Photo by Crozet M. / ILO

We could spend several hours unpacking all the H&M designer collabs (Moschino, Simone Rocha, Erdem, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, and Vicktor Rolf), but let’s fast forward to the latest H&M collab with Mulger.

A Brief Overview of H&M and Mugler


H&M is a fast fashion brand from Sweden.

H&M rose to prominence over the past 30 years with the escalation of fast fashion and the use of the “test and repeat” model, which essentially turns styles over at an alarming rate based on buyer behavior.

H&M’s revenue was 24.35 billion USD in 2019.


Mugler is a fashion house that was created by French-born Thierry Mugler.

Mugler found notoriety in the 80s with his unique expression, futuristic creations, and avante-garde collections.

The L’Oréal group, which owns Mugler as well as 36 global brands, generated 33.47 billion USD in revenue in 2019.

The H&M x Mugler Collaboration: Democratizing Fashion or Deluding Consumers?

A woman buying dresses from a fast fashion brand
RDNE Stock project 

The Mugler collaboration feels different, and that is by design. 

In the wake of social discord and things like the #MeToo movement, there has been a demand for more inclusive definitions of what beauty is. The campaign focuses on inclusivity and celebrates gender expression and all body types, not just thin ones. Which is a beautiful departure from Eurocentric campaigns. But that’s just the thing, it isn’t enough. To support some and not all is not the way. Not anymore, not in the age of the internet.

Many collabs seem well-meaning on the surface and, in some cases, they might have been. However, if they aren’t done in a meaningful way, one that supports all involved (from garment workers to models) they are just creating more exploitation and waste. The overarching question remains, should these collaboration collections come at the expense of the individuals who make our clothing? 

Back to Accessibility

In a press release from H&M, the brand stated that “H&M has been democratizing high fashion by offering global audiences the chance to own special pieces of high-end designer history.” 

Which feels like they are trying to center accessibility. But, accessibility in the fashion industry is an extremely nuanced conversation. When talking about lower-income individuals we cannot discount those who are lower income that live and work in the global South. So, if we are going to talk about the affordability of clothing for lower-income individuals, we cannot overlook the people who make our clothing who are making poverty wages. We cannot pick and choose. A fast fashion x designer collaboration doesn’t make it accessible. If we aren’t paying the individuals who make our clothing a livable wage, what we are creating is not accessible. 

Bangladeshi Garment workers
Photo by -Niloy-

Besides, it isn’t lower-income individuals who are grossly contributing to the overconsumption and the disposability of fast fashion. That title remains firmly in the hands of individuals who do fast fashion hauls by purchasing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fast fashion clothing and accessories regularly. You know the ones, they are all over TikTok and Instagram.

Investing in Ethics, Not Trends: Building a Fashion Future We Can Be Proud Of

A sustainable fashion model posing with her outfit in the sun
Photo by Eyup Beyhan

High-low designer collaborations are essentially designer-branded fast fashion. What might have originally started as a vanity metric from H&M to create buzz and up their street cred has turned into…a monster.

Also, just because it is designer doesn’t mean that it is sustainably or ethically produced. There is still little to no transparency in supply chains and most fashion brands do not pay garment workers a livable wage. So, it is very likely that any fast fashion x designer collaboration is produced in sweatshop conditions where the individuals who make our clothing are paid poverty wages while these garments are marked up exponentially with all profits going directly into the pockets of the billionaires that own the fast fashion brands or holding companies. 

The prices we have seen over the last 20 years have been established because of exploitation. Exploitation has been normalized. But, if we uplift everyone, if we pay everyone their worth and stop hoarding it in the top 1%, the cost of the clothing we buy will not seem like a burden. It is the tide that lifts all ships.

Let’s look past our desire to consume, to be “on trend,” to do things for the likes and status, and actually consider what we are purchasing. What are we actually paying for? A moment, a name, a status…because beneath all that, we are funding exploitation. The exploitation of people and the planet for profit, one cheap trick at a time. We vote with our wallets, it is time to show these brands, quite literally, that we are no longer buying what they are selling. 

In Conversation with Wordsmith of EFWA: Marilyn R. Wilson

In Conversation with Wordsmith of EFWA: Marilyn R. Wilson

In the vibrant world of Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA), Marilyn R. Wilson stands as more than just the Fashion Editor; she is the weaver of narratives, the artisan of stories that breathe life into the sustainable fashion movement. Behind her poised words and eloquent expressions is a journey that commenced at the crossroads of uncertainty, when at 50, she fearlessly embraced a Craigslist ad from a New York fashion magazine.

Marilyn‘s odyssey unfolds uniquely – her entrance into the world of fashion writing was accidental, but her love for storytelling was unmistakable. The unfolding chapters of her career narrate a tale of reinvention, resilience, and an unwavering passion for the narratives that shape our world. From co-launching a magazine that celebrated local artists to becoming a published author, Marilyn’s evolution is a testament to the transformative power of embracing new passions at any age. Her books, “Life Outside the Box” and “The Wisdom of Listening“, echo the stories of individuals who have danced to the rhythm of their unique lives—a reflection of Marilyn’s commitment to amplifying the voices of those who dare to be different.

As we dive into an exclusive interview with Marilyn, she unravels the intricacies of her journey, offering glimpses of her encounters with inspiring souls, her foray into authorship, and the profound impact of sustainability on her personal and professional choices.

What ignited your passion for writing, and how did it evolve into a career, especially in the realm of fashion?

Photo of Fashion Editor, Marilyn R. Wilson holding her book "The Wisdom of Listening"
Marylin R. Wilson

A great story. I was 50 and my kids were in their teens. They didn’t need me as much, so I sat down at the computer and started searching for job opportunities on Craigslist. An ad from a NYC fashion magazine looking for submissions caught my eye. I had no writing experience and grew up poor so knew nothing about the fashion world, but on a whim sent off 3 story ideas. No one was more surprised than I when 2 were accepted. What I discovered in my first interview was that I loved hearing people share their stories. It gave me goosebumps. I had found my passion. That magazine folded without my articles reaching publication, so I went back to Craigslist and connected with a photographer/web developer who wanted to start a local magazine. In 6 months I became co-owner, editor and was in charge of scheduling and assigning interviews to other writers. I also ended up writing two articles a month for a fashion magazine in NYC, and had 2 articles featured in a London publication. I have interviewed close to home and from as far away as South Africa. It wasn’t easy learning the skills I lacked in the public eye – there were many sleepless nights and tears – but it brought me to where I am today.

You co-launched a magazine highlighting local artists. How has connecting with artists influenced your creativity and approach to storytelling?

From my very first interview, my passion was clear. It wasn’t the world of fashion. What I loved was hearing other people tell their stories. Because I was giving them press and was so obviously enjoying what they shared, most opened up in a very meaningful way.. Some interviews stayed very professional, but in many, we laughed, cried, and ended with a hug. Several became close friends. Listening to their stories changed my life. I learned how unique we all were; that we didn’t have to all fit in the same box; that it was okay to be ourselves exactly as we are. I learned how to really listen without judgment. I learned how to walk each day intimately aware of the life happening around me and the wisdom being dropped in my lap daily. In my non-fiction writing, I give wings not only to the stories I hear but the life lessons I am learning. Creativity surrounds us, but it also lives in us. We simply have to stay open and notice. Storytelling is a practice learned daily both through listening to others and by sharing our own with others. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Transitioning from a freelance writer to a published author is remarkable. What prompted you to take the leap into authorship, and how has this transition shaped your perspective on storytelling?

I simply followed the breadcrumbs. After 4-½ years of building a magazine and pouring all my branding into it, we decided to part ways. I was devastated. This was a very black time for me. I was on the edge of just walking away. It had been too hard. Demanded everything I had. I wasn’t sure I had the energy to start from scratch. In desperation, I decided to write something every day for 6 weeks and then decide. I started with trivial things like writing about driving in traffic. Then I began to go deeper. Over those 6 weeks, I discovered I wanted to keep writing, but didn’t know what that meant. Then I heard a hybrid publisher talk and knew instantly this was the door opening. We took all my interviews and focused on 10 featuring wildly divergent lives to create my first book – Life Outside the Box. One would think it would have been easy to do 10 mini bio chapters after so many magazine articles, but it wasn’t. Stretching my stories from 1,000 to 5,000 words was challenging and hit all my self-doubt buttons. My storytelling had to grow from just snapshots to cover longer pieces. Fortunately, I had support. Publishing a book wasn’t new – it was a continuation of what I had been doing. I was still giving wings to the stories of others, but it was a deeper, more meaningful offering.

Covering the fashion industry, what insights have you gained about the intersection of creativity, self-expression, and sustainability in personal style?

Because the door into the world of writing that opened was in the world of fashion, I have been labeled a fashion writer which is hilarious. I grew up poor and knew nothing about fashion. It took a long time to learn about style and what I liked to wear. I have learned to love personal expression through what I wear, but I am not a trend person or hung up on big-name brands. It is all about the artist creating the clothes. I have pieces bought from students still in school, as well as interesting designers I have interviewed. I love the artistry of unique garments. I still don’t own a sequined dress perfect for a cocktail party, yet have a rubber chicken purse I pull out to wear with a Japanese-inspired patchwork dress. Most of my clothes, though, are classic basics as they are great building blocks you can work with.

Sustainability is a recurrent theme. How do you personally define sustainability in your life, and how has it shaped your choices beyond fashion?

In terms of sustainability, my teachers have been the eco-designers I have interviewed. They opened my eyes to the waste and damage being done by the fashion industry. As I have learned more, I was drawn to more sustainable choices. I buy clothing that I love, and that often has a story that binds it to me. I look for fabrics that will last and take very good care of my clothing. I work every year to make some purchases from local designers with small-run productions. Even those purchases that don’t fit the sustainable criteria are purchased purposefully and worn until they fall apart. Anything I no longer want is donated.

Being part of EFWA since 2017, how have you seen the event evolve in shaping perceptions and practices in sustainable fashion globally?

Photo of Fashion Editor, Marilyn R. Wilson at Eco Fashion Week Australia EFWA 2017
Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017

What a joy to connect with Zuhal when she was in Vancouver, BC, showing on the runway. I met her right at the beginning of her fashion career and we became friends. When she decided to move forward on EFWA, I agreed to step in and support her by interviewing designers for her website. It was 18 months of hard work to bring that first show in 2017 and a real privilege to be there in person staying with her to see it all come together. We talked every morning before the others arose. I was even gifted a show as a thank-you, so had 21 young designers from countries all over the world who sent me one garment created from upcycled men’s dress shirts. What a thrill. Making change requires a continuing effort. It’s like dropping pebbles in a pond. Each pebble brings more waves and creates more change. I am very excited to see EFWA has gained its legs and continues to grow, gaining more respect and credibility with each season.

Your connection with Zuhal Kuvan-Mills seems profound. How has your collaboration with her, especially in the context of EFWA, influenced your perspective on sustainable fashion?

We are friends first and foremost. And I admire her ability to take on a challenge of this magnitude and make it happen. She is an unstoppable force when it comes to sustainability and is fearless in pursuing her goals. Being able to support her efforts in my own small way has been an honor. I continue to keep abreast of new sustainable fashion issues through my connection with Zuhal as well as other sustainable designers such as Katherine Soucie and Sylvia Calvo, and ethical fashion industry leaders like Sass Brown (author and educator) and Jane Milburn (Textile Beats).

As EFWA looks toward the future, what aspirations do you have for the event, especially in terms of its influence on the fashion industry’s trajectory towards sustainability?

Photo of Fashion Editor, Marilyn R. Wilson on the stage with the runway models of Eco Fashion Week Australia
EFWA 2018
Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018

Each season EFWA offers a chance to see the unique fashions created by sustainable designers. For the world in general these unique options offered are a surprise. Nothing is cookie-cutter. I personally find sustainable, small production designs more interesting. The small runs mean better quality and the garments defy the trends. What I love most is Eco fashion made in small runs by local artists committed to sustainability gives us permission to embrace a different relationship with our clothing. For me it means clothing with a story, or that garments that make me feel a certain way. I no longer feel the need to wear the color of the season declared by someone. I don’t have to wear the current cut, or styles that don’t work for me. I now have pieces in my closet that have been there for 18 years and I still love them. I re-wear them again and again without apology. That is the influence EFWA and ethical designers have had on me. I hope every season EFWA will open a few more eyes, and touch a few more hearts. I will never be militant in what I wear, but I will continue to be purposeful and thoughtful about what I purchase.

Click to find out more about Marilyn R. Wilson and Eco Fashion Week Australia.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Runway Radiance: EFWA Conversation with Talisha Lee

Runway Radiance: EFWA Conversation with Talisha Lee

In the dynamic realm of sustainable fashion, Talisha Lee emerges as a vibrant thread intricately woven into the narrative of Eco-Fashion Week Australia (EFWA). Her journey, from a transformative experience at an early age to becoming the Face of EFWA Closet of the Anthropocene in 2024, reflects not just a runway showcase but a profound exploration of the impact of fast fashion on the environment. Talisha‘s story embodies personal evolution and a commitment to amplify voices often unheard, making her an ambassador for diversity, equity, and sustainability.

Beyond the glamour, Talisha’s perspective as a medical student adds depth to her understanding of the connection between sustainable fashion and personal well-being. For her, it’s more than a runway; it’s a belief that what we wear should echo the commitment to natural, organic choices in life. Talisha’s artistic flair extends beyond modeling, with her passion for singing and acting enriching her expression on the runway. Balancing a medical career with modeling, she envisions a future where both seamlessly coexist, contributing to a vibrant and sustainable world.

Designer: Skylark, Photographer: Zuhal Kuvan-Mills

Hi Talisha! You’ve been a part of Eco-Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) since its inception. Could you share your journey with us? How has the EFWA experience influenced your perspective on fashion and sustainability?

My first experience with EFWA was when I was 13 years old, and it was the first large-scale fashion/modelling show that I had ever participated in. I had the lucky opportunity to meet a multitude of different people from different countries and backgrounds and witness their own unique styles of creating sustainable fashion. From designs made of coffee bags and coffee pods, to Merino and alpaca wool, all the way through to up-cycling and redesigning op shop finds. It also opened my eyes to how much of our current fashion consumption is considered fast fashion, and just how damaging this is for the environment. Prior to my experience with EFWA I felt as if I was oblivious to the impacts of fast fashion on our environment, and to what fast fashion actually looked like in our everyday lives.

Being the Face of EFWA Closet of the Anthropocene for EFWA 2024 is an incredible achievement. Can you tell us more about this role and what it means to you?

To me being the face of the EFWA closet of the Anthropocene means not only advocating for sustainable fashion and minimising the impacts of fast fashion, but it also means giving a voice to smaller groups and communities that are often not seen and heard in the media. It means encouraging diversity and giving a voice to those who often do not have one, so that all Australians are given equal opportunity to share their story. It is up to us to use the platform that we have been given to advocate for diversity, equity, and sustainability. Having been a part of EFWA since its inception, I have been able to see the effort that this incredible team has put in to ensure diversity and equity for all of our models, designers, and community members, and I feel as if I have a responsibility to keep promoting these same values.

As a medical student, you have a unique perspective on health and sustainability. How do you see the connection between sustainable fashion and personal well-being?

To me, sustainable fashion is a much more viable alternative to fast fashion, not only for the environment but for us. We know that natural products are always better for an individual’s health, whether that’s organic foods to organic products, what we consume should be no different from the clothes that we put on our bodies.

You’re not only a model but also have a passion for singing and acting. How do these different forms of creative expression complement your modelling career?

Not only did singing and acting improve my confidence and stage presence, but it also gave me the skills required for modelling. A lot of people don’t realise that modelling is an art form, there are so many different styles of modelling and how we choose to compose ourselves on the runway is a form of individual expression. Acting and singing allowed me to explore my own unique style, from body language to facial expression, to perfect my modelling capabilities.

Eco Fashion and traditional fashion can differ in many ways. What do you find most distinctive about modelling for sustainable fashion as opposed to conventional fashion?

With sustainable fashion, you truly uncover the story behind the clothes. You get to listen to designers tell you every single step that they took to create the final piece that you’re wearing. From how they decided which materials to use, to how those materials were sourced and by whom, through to the designing and creating process. You get to listen to designers point out unique spots on their clothes that might have been a mistake when they were sewing or crocheting, and you really get to see the clothes come to life. With traditional fashion, on the other hand, you don’t get the same intimate story. You get to listen to the designing process, then the clothes are often shipped off to a foreign manufacturer before being shipped back for you to wear down the runway.

EFWA is often described as a close-knit community, like a family. How has this sense of belonging impacted your journey as a model?

With EFWA it really made a difference to me starting out my modelling career as a part of this family, because it made the modelling world so much less daunting to me. It showed that there were genuine people out there who would be willing to support me and treat me as their own. I feel like in everyday media and even just as a teenager looking online, we always get told that the fashion industry is one of the most cutthroat and exclusive industries, with everyone being pitted against each other. Being a part of the eco-fashion team, you get to see that that is far from the truth, you get to see everyone treating each other as family, whilst still giving each other the opportunity to shine as an individual.

In your opinion, what kind of impact does EFWA have on the fashion industry and the wider community?

EFWA has opened the door for communication and raised awareness regarding the impacts of fast fashion and how much of the fashion industry participates in fast fashion. It has given a platform to individual community members to raise awareness about sustainable fashion and showcased various different projects in support of our cause.

Balancing a career in the medical field and modelling is no small feat. How do you plan to pursue both these passions simultaneously?

Having studied in such a competitive and intense field, I feel like I’ve developed skills to find a balance between my career endeavours and my passion for modelling, and so I do intend to continue working on both. Modelling to me is a fun environment that allows me to escape from the pressure of studying, and I truly believe it will play a pivotal role in my life as I continue with my career.

Designer: Skylark, Photographer: Zuhal Kuvan-Mills

The fashion industry plays a significant role in environmental issues. Do you believe models can be influential voices in raising awareness about sustainable fashion and addressing climate change?

100% yes. As models, we are the face of the clothes that we wear so we have a voice, and we have the ability to make an impact. If we keep raising our concerns and keep raising awareness then as models, and even as everyday individuals, we are able to make a change.

What advice do you have for newcomers entering the world of modelling, especially those who are interested in promoting sustainability?

My advice is to be confident in yourself and know that you are worthy of achieving everything that you set out to do and so much more. The industry can be quite harsh, and as much as we are working to change that, and I do believe change and progress are being made, you must be confident in yourself and believe that you will get where you want to be. Regarding promoting sustainability, that is such an important message to be sending out, and just continuously promoting that and believing and fighting for your cause will get you very far.

Fun question: If you could choose one eco-friendly fashion item to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would definitely be recycled coffee pod earrings. I feel like they’re so unique and comfortable and they can match with absolutely anything.

Click to find out more about Talisha Lee and Eco Fashion Week Australia.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Eco Fashion Week Kenya – A Symphony of Fashion, Sustainability, and Transformation

Eco Fashion Week Kenya – A Symphony of Fashion, Sustainability, and Transformation

In the vibrant heart of Kenyan ingenuity, a groundbreaking event is set to unfold, promising a week that transcends the ordinary realms of fashion. Welcome to Eco Fashion Week Kenya, a transformative experience conceived by the visionary Belinda Smetana, founder of Sustainable Fashion and Travel. This event, in collaboration with Cleanup Kenya, is not just about runway glamour; it’s a holistic celebration of sustainability, inclusivity, and a profound commitment to healing our planet.

A Visionary’s Dream

Belinda Smetana, the luminary behind Sustainable Fashion and Travel, envisions more than a fashion week; she dreams of a collective journey toward conscious living. Her brainchild, Eco Fashion Week Kenya, is a testament to her commitment to creating a transformative experience that leaves an indelible mark on Kenya’s fashion landscape.

As Belinda puts it, “Our vision is to be the first-ever Fashion Week in the world that focuses more on cleaning up textile waste by creating inclusive intergenerational activities that every human who wears clothes can relate to.”

Inclusivity Beyond Glamour

In a world where inclusivity often stops at diverse models on the runway, Eco Fashion Week Kenya takes a giant leap forward. For them, inclusivity extends beyond the glamour, encompassing intergenerational activities that involve everyone who wears clothes. This commitment to inclusivity goes hand in hand with their core belief that sustainable fashion should be for everyone, breaking traditional beauty standards both on and off the runway.

Belinda emphasizes, “We are not just working with fashion brands; we are including other industry leaders contributing to a better environment. Our transformative experience aims to inspire positive change, making sustainable fashion accessible to all.”

The Artisanal Prelude

The journey begins at The Artisanal Gallery, Nairobi, with a press briefing and networking day. The venue, known for its unique concept store, sets the stage for what promises to be a fashion week like no other. The welcome drink from official wine sponsors Le Decanter and gifts by JUA add a touch of celebration and community spirit to the event.

As we step into this artistic space, Belinda’s words resonate, “We want to create a Fashion Week where the power of fashion is harnessed to leave a positive imprint on our society and the planet.”

Photo of The Artisanal Gallery, Nairobi
The Artisanal Gallery, Nairobi

A Tapestry of Experiences

The week unfolds with diverse activities, each day bringing a new facet of sustainable fashion to the forefront. From eco-fashion workshops and the selection of winning pieces to mending, repair, and swap workshops, the event is a rich tapestry of experiences. The emphasis on education through seminars and discussions underlines a commitment to not just showcasing fashion but fostering a deeper understanding of sustainable living.

Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles, who is one of the featured designers of the Eco Fashion Week Kenya, adds her perspective, “Embracing Circular fashion systems including recycling and upcycling is crucial. Brands should embrace slow fashion, make quality apparel that will last for generations, and use sustainable and degradable materials.”

Photo of Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles, Kenya
Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles

JUST FASHION DAY – Challenging Norms

One of the highlights is the “JUST Fashion Day,” a challenge presented by the JUST Fashion team through the Eyes of the Artisanal Gallery, AfroWema, and Seeds & Stories. Delight Fashion and Design School students are tasked with creating one piece each with the theme “No New Clothes.” This bold initiative aims to combat textile waste by using existing clothes that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Belinda expresses her confidence, “We are challenging designers, especially the students, to make a difference. The winning piece will be showcased and auctioned, supporting upcoming designers. It’s about avoiding waste and overproduction, aligning with our commitment to a sustainable fashion future.”

This addition emphasizes the pivotal role of student designers, making their contributions integral to the ethos of Eco Fashion Week Kenya.

An Evening of High Fashion and Responsibility

As the week progresses, the event moves to Lions Eco Resort & Spa for a night fashion show. Designers will showcase collections made from used materials, emphasizing the theme of “No New Clothes.” The emphasis on not purchasing new clothes for the event aligns with the ethos of discouraging overconsumption.

The week culminates in a beach cleanup day in Malindi, symbolizing the event’s commitment to actively contribute to environmental well-being.

A Collective Effort – Partnerships and Venues

Eco Fashion Week Kenya is not a solitary endeavor. It’s a collaborative effort with Cleanup Kenya, Delight Tailoring Fashion & Design School, Fashion Takes Action, Trashion Kenya and many more. The choice of venues, from The Artisanal Gallery to Lions Eco Resort & Spa, adds a layer of uniqueness to each event, creating an immersive experience for participants.

As Belinda emphasizes, “We are uniting Style, Sustainability, and inclusivity while disrupting the ‘Normal’ Fashion Week.”

The Power of Conscious Fashion Choices

As Julie Adhiambo, Founder and CEO of Duara Textiles, puts it, “Circular economy – reusing, recycling, and creating new materials and products from already existing materials hence reducing waste.” Julie’s dedication to sustainable materials and practices echoes the broader message of Eco Fashion Week Kenya.

In a world inundated with fast fashion, Eco Fashion Week Kenya emerges as a beacon of conscious choices, a celebration of slow fashion that values quality over quantity. It’s a movement that goes beyond trends, embracing the well-being of the planet and its people above all else.

Looking to the Future

As we step into the future of sustainable fashion, events like Eco Fashion Week Kenya play a pivotal role. The rising consciousness on the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility is turning it into a norm rather than an exception. More brands are adopting circular fashion systems, becoming accountable and transparent in their product cycles.

Belinda envisions, “It will become the norm rather than the exception. More people will start embracing unique handcrafted artisanal products that are of high-quality finish.”

Embrace the Change

Eco Fashion Week Kenya is more than a fashion week; it’s a call to action. It challenges norms, encourages dialogue, and actively engages individuals in the journey toward sustainable living. Belinda Smetana’s vision extends beyond the glamour of the runway, aiming to weave a sustainable future, one thoughtful choice at a time.

As the fashion world gears up for this groundbreaking event, it’s not just about style; it’s about shaping a future where fashion and responsibility go hand in hand. So, mark your calendars for a week that promises not just runway spectacles but a transformative experience that resonates with the rhythm of a planet in need of healing.

Join the movement, embrace sustainability, and be a part of Eco Fashion Week Kenya – where fashion meets responsibility, and every choice makes a difference.

A Conversation with Lauren Di Meglio: From EFWA to Eco-Tourism

A Conversation with Lauren Di Meglio: From EFWA to Eco-Tourism

The journey of Lauren Di Meglio is a testament to the transformative power of passion and dedication. As a recent graduate with a double major in Tourism & Hospitality and Events, her love for the ocean and marine experiences has driven her to make a meaningful impact. Her family’s deep-rooted connection to the shipping industry has given her unique insights and a profound desire to preserve the beauty of our natural world for generations to come.

It was through Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) that Lauren found a platform to marry her love for the environment and her burgeoning interest in fashion. Her initial experiences as a model for EFWA were nothing short of exhilarating. The exposure to sustainable fashion practices, coupled with her growing awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion, ignited a profound shift in her perspective. This journey with EFWA has left an indelible mark, influencing her career path in eco-tourism and shaping her commitment to making conscious choices, supporting local businesses, and promoting sustainability.

Lauren’s story is an inspiration for aspiring individuals seeking to make a positive impact on the environment. It’s a reminder that every small step towards a more sustainable future counts, and when fueled by passion, the possibilities are endless. EFWA, with its focus on sustainable fashion, played a pivotal role in guiding Lauren toward a career dedicated to eco-tourism and environmental preservation. The journey continues, and the influence of EFWA shines brightly in her path ahead.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the eco-tourism and fashion industries?

My name is Lauren Di Meglio, I am 22 years old and have recently graduated from Curtin University with a Commerce degree, double majoring in Tourism & Hospitality and Events. Growing up I’ve always loved the ocean, beaches, rivers, and any body of water. Living in Perth and consistently traveling back and forth from a small fishing island in Italy, Ischia, my family and I have always been lucky enough to surround ourselves with marine experiences almost daily. My immediate and extended family on both sides work within the shipping industry, which has given me the opportunity to learn insights into the industry. As my love for the marine world grows, so does my passion and desire to preserve the experiences it provides for future generations. I intend to use my degree to help conserve and protect tourism destinations and to develop environmentally-conscious experiences for visiting tourists and locals.

Designer: Green Embassy

How did you first get involved with Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA)? Can you share your initial impressions and experiences?

In 2017, I had been with Dene for 2 years and was confident in front of a camera and up on the runway. She mentioned a modeling call for Eco-Fashion Week Australia, an idea/concept that I hadn’t heard of before. From the moment my mum and I met Zuhal, we knew we wanted to be a part of EFWA! We would go to Fremantle every 2nd weekend to practice walking, try on beautiful garments, and involve ourselves in extra opportunities; Dowerin Field Days, Taylor Winery Events, etc.

The EFWA 2017 event was thrilling! As a 16-year-old, having the opportunity to be photographed, interviewed, and walk the runway in front of a new and growing audience every night for 5-days was incredible. The confidence and pride the experience gave me is something unmatched.

Going into the 2nd year of EFWA, Emily Craig, Taleisha Lee and I (and our mothers) were lucky enough to work closely with Zuhal. We would assist in running the runway training for the EFWA 2018 team, we were involved in numerous “bonus” photoshoots for the Green Embassy and even other international designers. We will always be EFWA’s and Zuhal’s #1 fans.

EFWA is known for its focus on sustainable fashion. How did participating in this event influence your perspective on fashion and sustainability?

I learned so much from Zuhal and the other designers about fashion pollution/fast fashion, up-cycled fashion, natural materials and dying processes, and all of the individual and unique ways that the designers would create their art. Learning these things gave me an appreciation for the designers and their work as it gave me an insight into the thought process behind the end result. It taught me, as a teenager who would regularly shop with friends at fast fashion outlets, the impact that my actions have on the environment around me, socially, economically, and environmentally. This helped me to rethink and reassess;

1. What do I want to support; big corporations who mass produce low-quality items or individual artists who carefully craft their designs with passion and consideration?

2. How can I benefit from buying locally or from slow fashion artists?

I learned that although slow fashion items may come with a bigger price tag, the item would always last in my wardrobe for longer as it isn’t trying to fit into a trend, the quality is better, and the personal connection with the piece. The knowledge that I learned from EFWA has stuck with me and has inspired me throughout my studies to keep conscious of my impact, current and future.

What aspects of EFWA’s sustainable fashion ethos resonated with you the most, and why?

I love that EFWA stands to educate, promote, and entertain its audience, both through physical events and media content, on the importance of shopping quality, and slow fashion. It teaches you to shift your perspective of fashion, reconsider your shopping habits, and make a more conscious and educated decision when it comes to shopping. The knowledge and moral value that EFWA passes on to its audience plants a new way of thinking that will ultimately benefit the individual, the fashion industry, and the environment around us.

In your opinion, how do sustainable fashion and eco-tourism intersect, and what role do they play in promoting environmental consciousness?

In my view, I wouldn’t be able to work for an eco-industry while ignoring another. I chose to venture into the eco-tourism industry because I want to preserve and conserve the natural environment around us, although my work may not directly correlate with the fashion industry, they ultimately have impacts on each other in the long run. The overarching ideologies of eco-fashion and eco-tourism overlap, for example, the simple idea of supporting local businesses is always a great way to ensure you are getting quality products and/or services.

Designer: Green Embassy

How has your involvement with EFWA influenced your career path and aspirations, particularly in the field of eco-tourism?

The knowledge I gained from being a part of EFWA has assisted me throughout my studies and my day-to-day decision-making. During my time with EFWA I have traveled to many WA towns and locations, learning about their agricultural practices and the different ways of living (rural vs. city living), I learned about small, conscious decisions that people make in their everyday lives that benefit themselves and their environment. Through learning these behaviors and seeing the impacts that these could have on a community, I became intrigued by the small changes I could make to benefit other towns and individuals. This sparked an interest in tourism development and helped me throughout my studies by relating to these experiences.

Photo by Harry Leonard Imagery at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018

You have just obtained a bachelor’s degree in commerce, majoring in tourism, events, and hospitality. How has your education complemented your passion for eco-tourism?

Throughout my degree, my favourite units were always the ones that covered tourism development and tourism conservation. I felt as though these units taught me the most about how I could make an impact through eco-tourism and allowed me to fuel my passion. I used my assignments as a means to put my ideas of conservation to the test, and I often reflected on my years of travel and experiences abroad. I would tailor my assignments to marine-based destinations when possible to keep my engagement high and use my knowledge of the shipping industry and individual companies to my advantage. Eco-tourism allowed me to find an industry that incorporated all of my interests and aspirations.

What advice would you give to aspiring individuals who are looking to make a positive impact on the environment through their careers, whether in fashion or eco-tourism?

Through my studies, I was often overwhelmed with the facts of how much damage has been caused by the fashion industry, how difficult it can be to make a conscious decision, and how I would be able to make a difference. It is important to remember that all you can do is take a step in the right direction, and then another, and another. Throughout my assignments, I would make conscious decisions about the destinations I was researching to make them relevant to the field in which I aspire to work. I would suggest to do the same, study and research the areas that you are passionate about. Take lessons that you learn through your studies and apply them to everyday living, and vice versa, take lessons and experiences from your years of living and apply these to your studies. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Designer: Green Embassy

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your journey, your passion for eco-tourism, or the influence of EFWA in shaping your path?

EFWA has made a massive impact on my personal journey, it has taught me so many life lessons and has given me the opportunity to meet incredible individuals from all around the world. The years of getting to meet and know Zuhal, her family, and the other amazing friends that we still hold close to this day, was an incredibly valuable experience that I am so grateful for.

Click to find out more about Lauren Di Meglio and Eco Fashion Week Australia.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai: A Prelude to COP28 with a Dash of Festive Spirit

Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai: A Prelude to COP28 with a Dash of Festive Spirit

In the glitzy, ever-dazzling Dubai, where innovation and extravagance are the norm, a new kind of elegance is taking shape. Dubai is renowned for luxury and extravagance, but amidst the high-end boutiques and bustling markets, a different sort of fashion is finding its voice. The Sustainable Fashion Expo is set to grace this metropolis, where fashion isn’t just about looking good; it’s about doing good.

A Fashionable Prelude to COP28

As the Expo City in Dubai gears up for the grand Sustainable Fashion Expo, it’s not just another event – it’s a movement. Dubai, being the host of COP28, plays a significant role in shaping the global sustainability narrative. The fashion industry, with its vast reach and deep impact on the planet, must be a part of this conversation. This expo acts as a precursor to COP28, ushering fashion into the sustainability discussion. It’s a stage for the fashion community, both professionals and consumers, to discover and embrace sustainable choices. The significance is immense, as it lays the foundation for decarbonizing the industry and reducing waste. The expo positions Dubai at the forefront of fashion sustainability, where style meets responsibility.

Unveiling the Concept of Sustainable Fashion Expo

The concept of the Sustainable Fashion Expo is simple yet profound: shift the fashion paradigm to embrace sustainability. By bringing the community together under one roof, this expo aims to demonstrate that sustainable fashion is not only possible but beautiful and accessible. It’s a platform where professionals and consumers, united by a common cause, can explore sustainable choices. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, with COP28 just around the corner. This expo ensures that fashion is not left out of the conversation when it comes to decarbonizing the industry and reducing waste.

An Array of Engaging Experiences

Visitors to the Sustainable Fashion Expo can look forward to a packed schedule of events that offer a deep dive into the world of sustainable fashion. From insightful panels that dissect the issues and challenges to interactive workshops that allow you to learn and participate actively, there’s something for everyone. But that’s just the beginning. The expo boasts an extensive area where you can explore brands that prioritize the planet and its people. It’s a journey to discover products that are more than just fashionable; they are statements of conscious consumerism. The highlight of the event is undoubtedly the sustainable fashion catwalk. It’s not just about showcasing the latest styles; it’s a declaration that fashion can be both trendy and sustainable.

Engaging Activity in Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai

Designing Change with Graphic Tees

One of the standout features of this event is the competition to design the best graphic tee with sustainability messages. Sustainability has many facets, and this competition allows participants to express their passions. Each design has a unique message that contributes to a more sustainable future. It’s a reminder that the journey towards sustainability is a canvas, and everyone has a unique brushstroke to add.

Pioneering Sustainability in the Middle East

The Sustainable Fashion Expo has a noble mission – to become the Middle East’s hub for innovation and education in sustainable fashion. It aspires to catalyze the change that the fashion industry desperately needs. This isn’t just about hosting an annual event; it’s about nurturing the designers and brands that are pioneering and bringing palpable change to the fashion scene.

Key Partners and Collaborators of Sustainable Fashion Expo

No event of this scale is possible without strong partnerships and collaborations. The Sustainable Fashion Expo is fortunate to have partners who share its vision and mission. The University of Wollongong provides not only a dynamic venue but also education in sustainability. It’s a space where academic knowledge merges seamlessly with practical applications. Sustainability is not just a concept; it’s a way of life.

Fashion Revolution, a global not-for-profit organization, is one of the pillars of support. With chapters around the world, it has been relentlessly addressing the issues in the fashion industry. The UAE chapter is one of the strongest in the region, working closely with universities and schools to educate the public through a series of events and initiatives.

Goshopia, another prominent partner, is the biggest online marketplace working solely with slow, sustainable, and socially responsible brands. It’s pioneering the art of making sustainable fashion both accessible and stylish.

The Sustainable Souk, renowned for its ability to create communities around eco-friendly events, has lent its expertise in managing and coordinating this expo. It takes more than just good intentions to create an event of this magnitude; it requires skill, expertise, and a deep commitment to sustainability.

The event has also received support from influential individuals like Sonya Vajifdar and various media publications. Media plays a pivotal role in amplifying the message and reaching a broader audience with the right information and options. The Sustainable Fashion Expo has a powerful ensemble backing it, and together, they’re crafting a narrative of change.

Festive spirit of Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai

Changing the Fashion Landscape

Consumer demand plays a pivotal role in changing the fashion industry. As the tagline goes, “The Fashion industry will only change if we, as consumers, demand that change.” Brands listen to consumers. If consumers demand sustainable choices, the industry will follow. It’s a reminder that while the fashion industry has immense power, consumers have the ultimate say. It’s not just about creating beautiful clothing; it’s about creating a beautiful future. And this future begins with the choices we make.

An Expo with Festive Spirit

As we gear up for the festive seasons of Diwali and Christmas, it’s essential to remember that these are some of the most shopping-intensive times of the year. The Sustainable Fashion Expo has a message that aligns perfectly with the spirit of these festive seasons. It’s about choosing gifts that have a beautiful story behind them, not just something random from a quick stop at a mall.

The Sustainable Fashion Expo is the perfect place to find thoughtful, handcrafted presents. It’s about pieces crafted by skilled artisans and dedicated designers. The supply chains here are short. You know who is doing the work, understand the inspiration behind the creations, and know how their lives would be impacted if their income were to disappear. It’s a conscious choice, a statement of support for those who dare to be different in a world of mass-produced conformity.

When we were looking for a name for the event, one of the options was the Sustainable Fashion Festival. The objective was clear – to make it a celebration of what has been achieved so far. The name might have changed, but the spirit remains. It’s a celebration of all the people and brands who have dared to make a difference. The celebration goes beyond just fashion; it’s about music, live performances, and activities for the whole family.

Be Part of the Change

The Sustainable Fashion Expo invites you to be part of the change. Your support matters, and in the world of sustainability, every effort counts. If you can’t make it to the region, spread the word. It’s all about creating awareness and starting conversations. In sustainability, we often say, “It is better to have 1 million people doing sustainability imperfectly than 100 people going all the way.” This is a numbers game. If you are not in the region, share with your friends and family. It helps open up conversations and bring awareness.

Team Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai

Join the Conversation with the Sustainable Fashion Expo

Stay connected with the Sustainable Fashion Expo and its partners:

Visit their website at to learn more about this pioneering event.

As we countdown to COP28 and the festive seasons of Diwali and Christmas, the Sustainable Fashion Expo reminds us that the change we seek begins with us. It’s where fashion meets sustainability, and the world changes for the better.

From Discounts to Detriments: Holiday Influence of Fast Fashion and Remedies

From Discounts to Detriments: Holiday Influence of Fast Fashion and Remedies

Adding to a cart is one of the most fulfilling clicks in most of our lives. Especially when there is a 70% off sale on Shein, and with Black Friday coming up in a few short weeks, fashion brands like H&M and Zara will be sure to give the people what they want – clearance sales, and major discounts. The holiday season means new outfits to buy, and matching family sweaters to seek out – clothes have always been such a primal part of the celebration, but also everyday life.  

But how often do we really stop to think before clicking “Add to Cart?” Serious questions like – how is this brand offering such a huge percentage off for the holiday season and still making profits? If they are not making profits, then why are they running their business? If they are making profits even after those significant discounts, how cheap are these clothes? What is the secret behind such low prices of these clothes – are the materials used in these clothes cheap or low-quality? If these materials are below quality, how long will we be able to use them – is it a good investment? What will happen to these clothes made from low-quality materials after we won’t be able to use them anymore? If the materials are not low-quality, then how come the prices are so cheap? If you are someone who thinks these are serious or at least interesting questions to be asked, then you are in the right place. It’s time to learn about fast fashion before clicking “Add to Cart” this holiday season. So, buckle up and brace yourself. 

A girl struggling with her piles of excessive clothing in her closet

What is fast fashion? 

Fast fashion is a phenomenon that has been noticed over the past 30 years, one that spread globally and quickly. According to the UN, fast fashion is a business model “of quick turnover, high volume, and cheap prices.” It is basically where fashion brands – to keep up with current trends and styles – mass produce their items at a low manufacturing cost to supply high demand. Fast fashion has been a booming industry since the late 1900s and the early 2000s, and these retailers include Zara, H&M, and Shein.  

What customers usually notice is that clothing items in fast fashion brands are relatively cheap, with a magnitude of vast options.  

Why does fast fashion exist? 

Shopping for clothes was once considered an event. This means that people would save up throughout the year and purchase new clothes at specific times. Style-conscious people would be well aware of the latest trends and designs through the fashion shows that showcased clothing pieces months before they were available in stores. People were used to shopping for clothes once or twice per year, in the regard that it was an occasion. 

However, in the late 1900s, that began to change. Shopping quickly changed into a form of entertainment and leisure, which consequently meant that people bought clothes more often, at a higher pace. This was what set off the concept of fast fashion – retailers could mass-produce clothing pieces at low prices, which made consumers feel they were up to date with the latest trends in real time. Fast fashion items were never made with the intention of lasting multiple years or wears – its goal was to manufacture cost-effective clothing directly satisfying the shifting demands of the consumer.  

A woman looking at a store showing their items on sale

The fashion industry is one of the largest working industries globally, with a value of 2.5 trillion dollars, providing employment for over 75 million people worldwide, as stated by UNECE. In theory, and from pure definition, fast fashion sounds harmless – a company is mass-producing clothes, for a cheaper price, which people can afford. If anything, this can be seen as a strategy that grants people easier access to clothes due to their affordable price. However, the consequences of fast fashion are ones that aren’t easy to notice, but hard to ignore. Fast fashion directly contributes to waste colonialism and exploitive labor practices – which consumers are unaware of during their purchases.  

How does fast fashion negatively affect the environment? 

Alright, so what about clothes during the holiday season? According to USA Facts, clothing, and accessory retailers have the highest jumps in sales during the holiday season. Statista found that in 2022 47% of Gen Z purchased new fashion items for themselves to wear on Christmas, while Millennials were at an astounding 50%. This shows that there is a high intent for purchase and paired with the high discounts available in fast-fashion brands, it explains why people tend to buy more new clothes during the holiday season. Since fast fashion utilizes low-quality fabrics, that means the clothes purchased during the holiday season would have a life span of only a few months – and when that life span is over, people do what they always do when something has served its purpose – they throw it away.  

A poster that says 'the cost of fast fashion'

Fast fashion relies on a business model that depends on “recurring consumption and impulse buying, instilling a sense of urgency when purchasing.” This business model has clearly succeeded, with global consumption rising to 62 million tons of apparel per year, and by 2030, it is expected to reach 102 million tons.  

Fast Fashion’s Global Impact 

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation – a UNEP partner – estimates that a truckload of abandoned textiles is discharged into landfills or incinerated every second. This is why it is estimated that people are buying 60% more clothes and wearing them for half as long. According to The Business Insider, 85% of all textiles go to dumps every year. The textiles in landfills have the capacity to contaminate soil. Countries such as Uganda, with high rates of agriculture and farmers, export contaminated food and resources to other countries. This can lead to major health risks and dangers, alongside negative side effects to animals and plants in their ecosystems.  

This means that fast fashion contributes directly to waste colonialism. Most fast fashion exports are from developing countries across Asia, including India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Cambodia etc. This means that the Global South is not only the one with the highest production of fast fashion but is also the one that suffers its consequences the most after it gets thrown out. The BBC reported in 2022 that more than half of the clothes imported to Chile end up in the Atacama Desert. On Jamestown Beach, located in Accra – Ghana’s capital – you must walk between mountains of shoes, pants, and tattered t-shirts. These used textiles come from Western countries and Asia to be dumped and dealt with in Ghana. 

At the fishing port of Accra, the Ghanaian capital, on February 19, 2023. The beach is littered with used clothes from industrialized countries that arrive there every week. 
At the fishing port of Accra, the Ghanaian capital, on February 19, 2023. The beach is littered with used clothes from industrialized countries that arrive there every week. JEAN-FRANÇOIS FORT / HANS LUCAS

These discharged textiles contribute to microplastics found in the water, which can then affect marine food chains – which means that the Ghanaian people eat contaminated fish. Discharged textiles are often brought into the Global South without warning, leaving them to deal with methods to get rid of these clothes. Because the quality is so low, merchandisers can’t even sell discharged textiles – therefore, it is another burden of waste that they are responsible for getting rid of, or facing the consequences it brings – most of the time, it is both. 

Fast Fashion and Climate Change 

Besides the littering and waste of fast fashion, it directly affects global warming. Producing clothes requires natural resources, which emit greenhouse gases. According to the UN, the fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions, surpassing aviation and shipping industries combined. The World Bank suggests that global clothing sales are to increase to 65% by 2030. A higher percentage in global sales indicates more discharged textiles to deal with – putting even more pressure on the Global South to manage the waste provided by the Global North.  

Consumer Awareness 

Some may argue that the average consumer isn’t aware of the negative connotations that come with fast fashion. According to Nayab Sohail, a Pakistani Slow Fashion ambassador, consumers must be educated about the issues fast fashion causes. Once consumers are educated on the link between fast fashion and climate change, that would allow for a change in their approach towards fast fashion.  Merlina Carolina, the Global Creative Lead of the Slow Fashion Movement and founder of Slow Fashion El Salvador, believes that the average consumer is “so caught up in routine and system that they probably don’t have the energy to question or consciously think about how the environment works.” 

Conscious consumers

Others argue that consumers are aware – to a small degree – of the link between fast fashion and the environment. Grace Kemp, another ambassador of the Slow Fashion Movement, believes that a “majority of people” are aware of the impact fast fashion has on the environment. Kemp claims that because of the sudden uprise of “green” campaigns in recent years, this must correlate to the level of awareness existing amongst consumers.  

How can you reduce your fashion footprint? 

Kemp mentioned how people might be aware of the negative link between fast fashion and the environment; however, they feel as though “it is too big for them to be able to do anything, so they carry on.” The typical solution to fast fashion has always been slow fashion. But slow fashion brands are usually expensive – the biggest disadvantage that fast fashion solves.  

Even then, there are solutions to fast fashion that don’t necessarily have to break the bank. Karen James Welton, a slow fashion stylist, advises to wear what you own. Purchasing clothing pieces for the sake of a current, temporary trend usually means it won’t be worn again. Welton also advises shopping vintage and second-hand. Swapping clothes with your family members and friends, or borrowing clothes isn’t shameful in any way – it is a direct solution to make sure you aren’t buying too many clothes. Kristīne Čeirāne, an ambassador’s coordinator of the Slow Fashion Movement, says, “The most sustainable wardrobe is the one people already have. Look after your clothes and wear them for as long as you can. The greenest purchase is the one you didn’t make.” Welton also recommends that for new purchases, you save up for investment pieces that you will be able to wear for years. Timeless, classic pieces that will always look good regardless of the current trend going around.  

A girl wearing a green dress dancing in a lush green field

A Joint Effort for a Sustainable Future 

The solution to fast fashion isn’t reserved for individual consumers only. The UN initiated the #ActNow Fashion Challenge, which aims to show individuals and industries how to improve the environmental impact that fashion leaves. Limiting and decreasing the carbon footprint that the fashion industry leaves is a key factor in reducing global warming, which is why NGOs have pointed out fast fashion’s harmful business model. Greenpeace and other groups have urged the sector to slow down the trend of mass-producing clothes that are thrown away so quickly. In COP-27 in Egypt, the fashion sector did promise a net-zero carbon footprint, but giant clothing retailers still struggle to manage their own emissions, considering the high demand for fast fashion now.  

It is essential that there is a joint effort – between the consumer and the industry – to work towards a less wasteful, more sustainable style of fashion. Looking good and trendy shouldn’t have to come at the cost of the environment. There is work towards sustainable fashion, and as long as there is work, there is always a way.  

The holiday season doesn’t need to be ugly for everybody. You can still look wonderful in the clothes you have – maybe styling it differently will give it a new look! Remember the consequences of clicking “Add to Cart” from a fast fashion brand – no one should spend their holiday season struggling through mountains of discharged clothes for the sake of fashion. 

Kibera Fashion Week: Redefining Sustainable Fashion from the Heart of Africa

Kibera Fashion Week: Redefining Sustainable Fashion from the Heart of Africa

In the heart of Nairobi, Kenya, a transformational fashion event is on the horizon, one that promises to challenge the very essence of the industry. Kibera Fashion Week, scheduled for October 14, 2023, is not just another typical fashion extravaganza; it’s a profound narrative of sustainability, community empowerment, and a refreshing perspective on the art of fashion.

Kibera: More Than Meets the Eye

Often depicted as a place of despair in need of help, Kibera is far from a one-dimensional story. It’s a bustling metropolis, a cradle of creativity, constantly evolving and innovating. It’s within this vibrant community that Kibera Fashion Week finds its roots, challenging the neo-colonial realities of the fashion industry.

The organizers of the Kibera Fashion Week, expressed their vision, “Kibera Fashion Week envisions a future where fashion transcends borders and becomes a unifying force for positive change. It aims to create a global fashion ecosystem that celebrates diversity, empowers local talent, and challenges the conventional norms of the fashion industry.”

With 11 designers set to grace the runway, Kibera Fashion Week stretches far beyond a one-night event. It is, in fact, a year-long program with a mission to fundamentally reshape the narratives and dynamics within the fashion world.

A Fashion Revolution with a Heart

The organizers of Kibera Fashion Week share a collective vision – to redefine how the world celebrates its heroes. In Kibera, they’ve found everyday heroes, individuals who’ve risen from the depths of unemployment, homelessness, and adversity. These heroes have not just overcome their challenges; they’ve become role models for the youth in their community.

Kibera Fashion Week breathes life into this vision, using the power of arts and creativity to challenge the notion that only certain professions are worthy of applause. It’s a platform where the legitimacy of artisanal work, tailoring, and craftsmanship is celebrated. These vocations provide not only sustainability but also hope, guiding the younger generation towards more meaningful pursuits.

Kibera Fashion Week Team

The Impact of Kibera Fashion Week on the Local Community

Since its inaugural show in November 2022, Kibera Fashion Week has left a significant impact on individuals and groups within the community. It’s not just about fashion; it’s about transformation and empowerment.

Emerging designers like Moom Jay Designs kicked off their journey at the November 2022 event. Today, they’ve evolved into established fashion brands, contributing substantially to the growth of the local fashion scene.

But it’s not just designers who’ve been touched by the magic of Kibera Fashion Week. The event has actively collaborated with local artisans and craftsmen, giving rise to a unique fashion experience that spans fashion accessories and garments. Victorious Crafts, talented jewelry designers from Kibera, now have a sustainable source of income and a means to preserve their traditional crafts and livelihoods.

The local models and performers have also thrived, gaining exposure and opportunities in the entertainment and modeling industries. Beyond the runway, the event’s various activities, including runway shows, exhibitions, and workshops, have had a positive economic ripple effect throughout Kibera. Local businesses, including food vendors and artisans, have experienced increased foot traffic during the event, translating into tangible economic benefits for the community.

Sustainability at the Heart of Kibera Fashion Week

Sustainability is not just a buzzword for Kibera Fashion Week; it’s a way of life. The event’s commitment to sustainability is evident in every facet of its planning and execution.

  • Sustainable sourcing and fabric maximization: Designers are encouraged to champion sustainable, locally sourced materials for their collections, minimizing the carbon footprint associated with sourcing materials from distant locations. Textile waste is minimized through efficient patternmaking and the innovative reuse of materials.
  • Ethical production: A strong emphasis is placed on ethical production practices, ensuring fair labor conditions and equitable wages for artisans and workers engaged in crafting fashion collections.
  • Community engagement: Kibera Fashion Week forges vital connections with the local Kibera community through strategic partnerships with organizations and skilled artisans, fostering social inclusion and presenting valuable economic opportunities for community members.
  • Education and awareness: The event serves as an educational hub, hosting workshops, panel discussions, and exhibitions that encourage conversations on sustainability, inclusivity, and ethical fashion practices.
  • Spotlight on local talent: Kibera Fashion Week passionately prioritizes local talent, spanning models, performers, and designers, nurturing the growth of the local fashion industry.

Designers: The Heartbeat of Kibera Fashion Week

Let’s hear from the designers themselves, each with a unique story and vision:

“I am passionate about transforming the ordinary into extraordinary. My journey is all about giving new life to thrifted garments and crafting them into beautiful designs that radiate uniqueness.”

Millicent Adhiambo Oluoch, Simply Milly

“The brand saw opportunity in involving raw bones and horns as unique resources that could solve the lack of our region’s identity in designs and again using it as locally sourced raw materials to represent the region’s creations to the global platform.”

Jack Nyawanga, Victorious Bone Craft

“The more my outfits are seen and appreciated, the more bamboo is known more in my country. Bamboo as a sustainable, resilient, and hardy grass is very beneficial in carbon sequestration which is an important process in cleaning the atmosphere.”

Dan Otieno (Ottydann), The Bamboo Man

“Our brand creates employment for unemployed members of the Society.”

Mary Akinyi, Emaryan Designs

“As creatives working together, we realized that there was a need to reflect on how the industry we were in impacted our environment.”

Mariah Kwamboka, Bokka

“We wanted to create something unique that could represent different cultures in Africa globally and create job opportunities for youths living in Kibera.”

Joseph Ganda, Bolla Footwear Designer

“We made a collective choice to join forces as partners and as a community, aiming to redefine how we celebrate and recognize our true heroes.”

Beth Kariuki, Lina Yarn

The Beauty of Upcycling

Many designers at Kibera Fashion Week are embracing upcycling, a practice that breathes new life into old materials. Millicent Adhiambo Oluoch, founder of Simply Milly, is passionate about upcycling. She skillfully reimagines thrifted garments into fashionable pieces, minimizing waste and demonstrating the beauty of sustainability.

Unique Materials for Unique Designs

Jack Nyawanga, founder of Victorious Bone Craft, takes a different route with his brand. He uses raw bones, horns, and metal to create unique designs such as costumes and jewelry. He believes that using locally sourced materials can represent the region’s creativity on a global platform.

Photo by Kibera Fashion Week

Fashion with a Positive Impact

Joseph Ganda, founder of Bolla Footwear Designer, saw an opportunity to create fashionable shoes while simultaneously reducing waste. His brand repurposes old clothes, used car tires, and waste materials from local tailors into distinctive, stylish footwear. Ganda’s goal is to create job opportunities for the youth living in Kibera.

Championing Sustainability in Fashion

Kibera Fashion Week isn’t just an event; it’s a movement aimed at transforming the fashion industry. It places a strong emphasis on sustainability, ethical production practices, and inclusivity. Through workshops, panel discussions, and exhibitions, designers, participants, and attendees gain valuable insights into sustainable fashion practices.

By spotlighting local talent, fostering economic growth, and promoting social empowerment, Kibera Fashion Week challenges the status quo of the fashion industry. It sends a powerful message that fashion excellence and innovation can emerge from unexpected places.

Photo by Kibera Fashion Week

A Vision for the Future

As Kibera Fashion Week approaches, these designers are not just focused on the runway. Their vision extends beyond the event itself. They aspire to expand the use of sustainable materials and practices, advocate for ethical production, and create job opportunities within their communities.

Together, they hope to change the way we view fashion and demonstrate that sustainability is not just a buzzword but a way of life. They encourage consumers to buy consciously, promote sustainable brands, and actively contribute to a cleaner, greener world.

Kibera Fashion Week is proof that fashion can be a force for good, a platform for change, and a symbol of hope. It’s an event that transcends traditional runway shows, inviting us all to be part of a movement towards a more sustainable and inclusive fashion industry. As Beth Kariuki from Lina Yarn aptly puts it, “We only have one world to live in, let’s keep it clean and green for our next generation to come.”

So, mark your calendars for October 14, 2023, as Kibera Fashion Week promises to take you on a journey where sustainability meets style, and fashion becomes a catalyst for positive change.

The project is initiated by David Avido (Lookslike Avido / Avido Foundation) in collaboration with Goethe-Institut, Nairobi Design Week, Maasai Mbili and EUNIC Kenya. The project is funded as part of the European Spaces of Culture.

For more information, visit the website of Kibera Fashion Week.

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