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Learn their names.
The driving force for any movement is the people behind it. Of course, the same applies to sustainable fashion. There’s an interconnected global web of activists, educators and change-makers that are advocating for a better fashion industry – one that cares for its garment workers and the planet.
At the heart of this, women of colour from diverse backgrounds are leading the way. Whether through creating their own ethical labels or by wading their way through greenwashing, these BIPOC women from Australia and around the world making their voices heard in the sustainability space.
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Aditi Mayer is somewhat of a sustainable slashie – she works as a fashion blogger, photojournalist, labour rights activist and speaker. Her work has seen her share her story over on Vogue, hold a TEDx Talk and host a podcast episode of Wardrobe Crisis, among other achievements. At the crux of her work, she aims to decolonise the fashion industry. In 2022, she’ll be a National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, spending the year documenting India’s fashion supply chain.
As a sustainability advocate, speaker, writer and educator, Nina Gbor is fully entrenched in the slow fashion scene. With a Master’s Degree in International Development and experience as a fashion tutor at RMIT University, Nina speaks her truth and shines a harsh light on the realities of a global fashion industry so entrenched in poverty. She’s also a massive vintage fiend and her style is inspired by Hollywood’s golden era.
Regina Jones, also known as Ginny, is a Gomeroi/Gamilaraay woman who makes jackets with a purpose. As the owner of Ginny’s Girl Gang, she imparts a message with every item made – one jacket reads “no pride in genocide” while another says “white silence = white consent”. Currently living in Georgia in the States, Ginny is also spreading her message through co-hosting a podcast Unapologetically Blak.
Cat’s internet presence is a colourful explosion of ethical outfits, handknitted creations and informative text carousels. Slow fashion and social justice go hand in hand for this Los Angeles creator. She’s the founder of Restitchstance, a sustainable and ethical blog that points consumers to brands that tread more lightly on this earth. Cat also hosted the #SlowFashionSpiritWeek, a sustainable fashion challenge with daily prompts encouraging Instagrammers to get creative with their wardrobes.
Self-dubbed a “vegan boss bitch”, Jennifer Nini is a fully-fledged environmental activist, dedicating her life to making the world a better place. As the founder and editor-in-chief of sustainability-focused media platform Eco Warrior Princess, Jennifer tackles the tough issues and pushes sustainability to be more intersectional. She’s a certified organic farm owner and lives a holistically green, permaculture life on a 120-acre farm.
Natalie Shehata is an eco-stylist well-versed in the not-for-profit sphere. The Sydney local is a stylist for NGO Save the Children, and a retail trainer for refugee youth at The Social Outfit, a Newtown-based sustainable label that employs and trains migrants and refugees. To top it off, Natalie is the founder of Tommie, a multidisciplinary platform of live events, tours, articles and more.
The creative mind behind ethical swimwear label Liandra Swim is Yolngu woman Liandra Gaykamangu, who comes from North-East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. As the founder, creative director and designer of this swimwear brand, Liandra embraces and celebrates her Indigenous culture while championing sustainable practices. Bikini tops and bottoms are made from regenerated plastic bottles and packaging is made from cassava or tapioca.
Since 2016, Jazmine Rogers has been sharing her sunshine-y self with the online world. This Black and Mexican sustainability influencer takes pride in how her conscious living isn’t perfect. Through this realistic journey of sustainability, she helps introduce others to the world of ethical living. “BIPOC are frequently left out of the sustainable conversations even though true sustainability stems from these cultures,” she said in an interview. “Colonisation is a huge reason for more environmental damages.”
Over in New Zealand, Jess Molina is shaking up the fashion space and advocating for size and racial diversity. As a writer, performer and all-round storyteller hailing from the Philippines, Jess understands the importance of listening to and platforming diverse voices. She’s also the founder and editor of Loudly Quietly, an online lifestyle platform. Jess brings warmth and fierce authenticity to the fashion world.
Aja Barber is a force to be reckoned with in the fashion sustainability world. Living in South East London, Aja is a writer, speaker, consultant and stylist whose work explores the intersections of privilege, inequality and colonialism. She’s written for publications like Eco-Age, The Guardian and CNN, and her debut novel Consumed is out later this year. “Ethical is walking the walk in your everyday interactions with marginalised people,” she says.
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