The Rise of Ethical Fashion: Interview with Eco-Model Amanda Rootsey
16th OF October 2012
A recent UK report reveals that expenditure on ethical and sustainable fashion is on the rise with more than 50% of women believing it's important that fashion designers act ethically.
And it seems here in Australia we feel the same.
After beating cancer and changing her lifestyle considerably, Australian model Amanda Rootsey has made it her mission to spread the message of eco and ethically friendly fashion practices.
Cleo Magazine has referred to her as an “eco-activist’ but humble Amanda ensures “I’m just doing my little bit” in her passionate efforts to make the fashion world a better place.
Now, Rescu chats with Amanda about her fashionable eco friendly pursuit.
Image: Amanda Rootsey, www.amandarootsey.com.au
What does eco fashion and ethical fashion mean to you?
I define eco and ethical fashion as being produced in a way that has minimal impact on the environment, considers the welfare of the people creating the garments and doesn't exploit animals. At the moment, the fashion industry is the 2nd largest user of water in the world, billions of animals are slaughtered for fur and leather and there are 200 million child labourers in the world, with unethical working conditions even being present here in Australia. Eco and ethical fashion labels find creative ways to reduce this impact.
What drives your passion for eco fashion?
My passion for fashion has been strong for many years and I've always loved working in the industry. It's creative, expressive, glamourous and fun! But my love for eco fashion was born out of a cancer diagnosis a couple of years ago. I went vegan, ditched as many chemicals as I could from my lifestyle and got back to basics. It gave me a whole new perspective and I realised how fragile life is. It made me realise how important it is to take care of each other and our beautiful home while we can. There's a saying that goes something like, "We don't inherit the Earth from our parents, but borrow it from our children."
Image: Amanda Rootsey, www.amandarootsey.com.au
What are your feelings about being described by Cleo mag as an ‘eco-activist?'
I was very flattered when Cleo mag described me as such but I'm just doing my little bit. Last year my partner and I decided to try living 'off the grid' as much as possible so we lived in an eco-cabin that was built out of a recycled shipping container, we had 1 solar panel and battery, some water tanks and grew our own vegetables. It was an incredible experience and it made me very aware of the impact that we have as consumers on the world around us and prompted me to research and support eco-fashion any way that I can. It was this 'walking the talk' that Cleo mag were referring to.
Does that describe how you feel about yourself?
I don't know if I would go so far as to call myself an activist - I don't like to suggest that other people should live a certain way but I am happy to discuss my views and share the research I've done when asked about it. I like to do what I can to shine a light on all of the wonderful work that many Australian designers are doing to produce their garments in an eco-friendly and ethical manner.
Do you still get excited about non-eco-fashion? Would you wear a non-eco fashion item?
I do still get excited about all forms of fashion but I get particularly excited when I find something beautiful that is also eco-friendly and ethically produced - that's what excites me now. I won't wear anything that has killed an animal or contributes to animal cruelty such as fur, leather, wool or silk. I try my best to stick to eco-friendly fabrics and fair-trade labour but it's not as easily accessible as I'd like it to be! I've always loved vintage shopping and I feel much more comfortable going on a shopping spree in an op shop than buying something brand new.
What are some of your favourite eco fashion and ethical fashion designers?
I love all of the beautiful basics from Rant Clothing, the simple dresses from One Colour and the summer range for 2012/13 from Sinerji. My favourite shoes are the Vivienne Westwood collection for Melissa.
In your ideal world, how would the fashion industry embrace eco/ethical fashion?
Studies have shown that regardless of the credentials a garment can boast, we won't buy it if it's not stylish. So it seems to me that what we really need is the established fashion labels that people already love and trust to embrace eco and ethical practices. In my ideal world the terms 'eco' and 'ethical' would be outdated and it would be common practice to ensure that everything is produced in a way that does not exploit humans, animals or the environment.
How does Australia rate in terms of its commitment to eco & ethical fashion compared with other countries?
I read something recently about future consumer trends in Australia and it seems we are heading towards 'slow fashion' and an appreciation for quality over quantity, rather than fast and cheap. A recent report by the Ethical Fashion Forum in the UK demonstrated that expenditure on ethical and sustainable fashion is on the rise and more than 50% of women feel that it's important that a company acts ethically. I'm sure Australia isn't far behind and from what I can see, consumers are becoming more aware and are demanding higher standards.
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