Clare Press Discusses Her Role As Vogue's Sustainability Editor And Why It's Important

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Image: Clare Press photographed by Georgia Blackie.

If you are passionate about ethical fashion and spend a bit of time on Well Made Clothes, then you're probably already familiar with Clare Press. She is a ‘Well Made Woman’ in every sense. Not only is Clare an esteemed fashion journalist and the author of Wardrobe Crisis, but the ethical fashion advocate also runs a podcast of the same name and has recently been announced Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large. Which is a pretty big deal, considering this appointment represents a world first for Vogue.

Following on from a recent series of ethical fashion talks that Clare was part of – and ahead of her panel conversation at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit next month ­– Well Made Clothes caught up with the multi-hyphenate to find out what her new job title actually means and why we are still in need of a Fashion Revolution. After all, we're right in the midst of Fashion Revolution Week right now and who better to shed some light on the issues at hand than Clare?

Rosie Dalton: Hi Clare! Congratulations on recently being appointed Vogue Australia’s sustainability editor-at-large. Can you tell us a little bit about what the role entails?
Clare Press:
Thank you! Returning to Vogue in this capacity is very exciting for me. It’s also the first time any Vogue has had a sustainability editor, which I think is exciting for sustainable fashion in general. Our incredible March 2018 issue, guest edited by Emma Watson, put responsible fashion front and centre. My role was created to ensure sustainability is a continuing focus for Australian Vogue. Day-to-day that means covering ethical fashion news online around stories like Australia’s first circular fashion conference for example, or the recent David Jones designer capsule in support of Fashion Revolution; writing for the magazine; and ensuring we are engaged in the sustainability conversation in general.

Rosie: Why do you believe that it is so important for heritage brands, publishers and corporations to get behind ethical fashion?
Clare: I think it’s important for all stakeholders to get behind it. There are many reasons why, but on the simplest level in terms of a business case, audiences and customers care about it. Millennials are the most value-driven, sustainability-minded generation yet. Also, there is a pressing need for the industry to harness new systems, technologies and thinking in general, to address issues around resource scarcity and environmental impact. I would add that fashion is good at innovation - there are lots of brilliant minds working on these areas. It feels like a great time to be immersed in sustainable fashion, because there’s so much change happening, and so much opportunity.

Rosie: This is such a nuanced domain, though, so what are some of your top tips for consumers looking to live more responsibly?
Clare: At Well Made Clothes, you do a great job of cutting through the complexity around the issues, which are, if you think about it, unusually broad. I mean, we’re basically talking about the entire world, aren’t we? The umbrella terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ fashion cover so much – from human supply chains to animal welfare to pollution and waste though overconsumption, to cultural issues like representation and diversity. How to pick a few tips from all that? It’s not easy. It can help to zero in on one area, or to pick your passion point. What drives you personally? Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it is protecting our natural world from pollution (which is a big personal one for me). Fabrics are key here. Looking for recycled fibres that have reduced the use of virgin resources is a great place to start. So is choosing natural dyes when they’re available. Opting for organic or BCI cotton, as well as cellulose fibres that have been produced by a company like Lenzing (which practices closed loop production). You can also use a Guppy bag if you’re washing things like polar fleeces. Or shop local brands, to reduce the C02 from transport… I know, right? If all that sounds overwhelming, then start small – choose one thing and go from there. Every little bit helps, even just reading more around the subject.

Rosie: You will be speaking at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit this year. Can you tell us about some of the topics that you will be covering as part of this talk?
Clare: I am moderating a panel about the future of transparency, why it matters to consumers and what brands are doing – and can do – to increase it, with Maiyet’s Paul van Zyl, Fashion Revolution’s Carry Somers, Baptiste Carriere-Pradal who is the vice president of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, techspert Rachel Arthur from The Current and Lars Axelsson, MD of Arket.

Rosie: Fashion Revolution Week is upon us too. Why do you believe that we are still in need of a ‘Fashion Revolution’?
Clare
: First, let’s take a moment to smile about how far we’ve come, and how integral pioneers like Well Made Clothes have been. Fashion Revolution is the biggest global fashion activism movement ever, it’s inclusive and exciting, and every year more people join in and grow the conversation around sustainable fashion. THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. Now, back down to Earth (not least of all because Earth Day was April 22nd). Because we do still need a fashion revolution. While we have come a long way, we still have further to travel. That is clear from the Fashion Transparency Index  which you can hear more about on this week’s episode of the Wardrobe Crisis podcast with Fashion Revolution’s head of policy Sarah Ditty.

Rosie: What are some simple steps the industry can take to kick this revolution into full gear?
Clare:
I don’t know about simple steps, but I think the clear one is collaboration. We’re all in this together. Brands, fashion fans, wearers of clothes in general, media, retailers, NGOs, regulators, activists. The “us and them” mentality slows everybody down.

Rosie: Finally, what does the future of fashion look like, in your opinion?
Clare: Circular!

 

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