By Chere Di Boscio
Yatu is a communications consultant and eco style writer from Sydney. Her interest in environmental issues and fashion writing inspired her blog, Thinking Fashion. She now regularly writes for Peppermint Magazine, a US based conscious culture website EcoSalon and is a monthly guest on Australian Radio Show, Speaking Out. Yatu is of Indigenous, British and Irish heritage and is passionate about social justice and environmental issues.
Why did you decide to have a ‘green’ focus for your work?
As a communications consultant, working mainly for the Government, I spent a lot of time in both the environmental and social justice areas, but I have always been a fashion magazine addict! Writing and blogging about the good work the fashion and beauty industries are doing to address environmental and ethical concerns, seemed to be a great way for my interests to come together. People can sometimes see fashion as frivolous, but I think it is an industry that we all engage with and one that has the potential to make a strong environmental impact.
Why do you think bloggers are becoming increasingly important in the publishing world?
I think the reality is, mainstream media doesn’t speak to everyone. Bloggers and independent writers, who can share their own views and opinions, are a great way for public information to become more diverse. For example, I rarely see any of the big fashion magazines tackle issues of eco and ethical fashion in a meaningful way. On that front, bloggers and independent writers become quite powerful in promoting responsible messages and in putting pressure on mainstream press, to examine some of these important issues.
Which green fashion labels are currently in your top 5 lust-list?
I am obsessed with New Zealand based label Kowtow at the moment, so their new collection would be top of my list! I also love Choolips, Stella McCartney, Organic by John Patrick and I have had my eye on an emerging Norwegian designer Nina Skarra who recently showed at New York Fashion Week.
How do you merge ethical and non-ethical brands in your wardrobe?
Wherever possible, when I need to buy something new for the wardrobe, I do try to look for a more eco friendly and ethical alternatives. I acknowledge that it is really hard to be completely ethical and eco friendly in many places, so I do make the best effort I can and if I do purchase non ethical brands, I try to do it through second hand shops or swap parties, so I am still reducing my environmental impact.
Do you use any green beauty products?
As much as I can, I try to use household products as beauty products. I swear by coconut oil as a makeup remover and facial moisturiser (and I sometimes use macadamia oil depending on the season!) I love the Australian Li’tya range because it is inspired by native Australian ingredients, which have amazing properties and aren’t that widely known. I also sometimes use KORA Organics by Miranda Kerr (another eco friendly Aussie!) when I feel like splurging. When I use makeup, I prefer RMS beauty products and you will also find Ere Perez, Bare Minerals and Butter London in my makeup bag.
Which new green labels do you see as up and coming?
Australia has recently announced its first Indigenous Fashion Week, taking place in early 2014 and there are a number of Indigenous designers who are committed to sustainable practices that I predict big things for. Two designers I would keep my eye on are Lucy Simpson and Mia Brennan. They have their own successful companies (Gaawaa Miyay & Mimi Designs) but they are collaborating on a new collection which I can’t wait to see. Australian Indigenous designers haven’t traditionally had much international exposure, so I am hoping the week will bring more attention to these up and comers!
Which is better: buying green, or buying vintage?
I think any effort people can make to be more conscious about their choices is a positive thing. I buy both green and vintage. Ultimately, both are great options, but I think the advantage of buying green, is that it sends a direct message to fashion labels that consumers expect eco friendly and ethical fashion to lead the future. The more we can create consumer demand and a genuine market for eco friendly and ethical fashion, the better it will be for the future of the industry.
What’s your position on leather? Fur?
Personally, I don’t wear fur but will admit to owning a few leather pieces. I am firmly against animal cruelty of any kind and it’s an issue that I am still learning about. I think the most important thing is knowing what questions to ask or what to look out for when you are buying materials of any kind. There are companies out there using ethically sourced or recycled leather for example, so it’s important to support those doing the right things and not purchase from companies whose ethics and values don’t align with yours.
Which shopping habits do you think are the most important ones consumers need to change?
I think learning how to read clothing labels is one of the best things you can do. Just like we are trained to read food labels to see what ingredients they contain or whether our eggs are free range, learning how to interpret fashion labels and understanding which fabrics are more sustainable etc, is a great way for consumers to take more control of their choices.
Any last words?
Although we are a relatively small market, I am really proud of the great work being done here in Australasia and the fantastic labels and designers making the push for eco and ethical fashion futures. I hope we get some more international attention on the great talents that are coming out of our region.