Photographed by Shoji Van Kuzumi
Hair & Makeup by Chris Newburg
Though Earth Month has drawn to a close, it has really underscored for us how vital it is to keep in mind the necessity of taking care of our planet and practicing sustainability on a daily basis. But what does that really mean?
We brought together two people who embody sustainable living in their daily lives to start a conversation about what sustainability means to them on a personal level and within fashion, and to share some practical tips for staying sustainable throughout the year. Sarah Slutsky is a celebrity stylist and sustainable styling pioneer, while Renee is on the other side of the curtain as a model and sustainable lifestyle blogger.
Renee: So what made you interested in sustainable fashion?
Sarah: Sustainable fashion to me - it’s not even a real category. The category is sustainable life, and making choices that are responsible for yourself the environment, your friends. So sustainable fashion just falls into the whole overarching “good human behavior” category.
RP: Yeah, be a good person!
SS: My parents raised me that way - to think about recycling, to think about what you need versus what you want. And about how sustainability has so many layers of the totem pole; environmental, financial, personal. It’s complex, it’s loaded. Since I work in fashion it becomes very much a part of the day-to-day piece and how I feel like I can contribute. It’s been bred into me since I was a little girl.
RP: That’s really cool to hear because it was the same for me. I always felt like modeling and sustainability were separate and there was like this tug of war between “how am i gonna incorporate both?” And as I got older I realized, “Oh it is just a way of living - I’m a model and I’m sustainable and that’s just because I’m a sustainably minded person.”
SS: I think it’s so complicated when you hear exactly that push and pull of “sustainable fashion” versus just lifestyle choices. There’s this connotation that sustainable fashion has to fall into a certain bucket. But there are so many ways to be sustainable. When you’re designing clothes there are certain practices that as an industry, if you adopt them overall, we can all make those choices. But you can also be sustainable on a personal level just by asking if you need something new, and if you truly feel like you need something new, can you buy something that is vintage or resale first?
Or if its something that’s truly, truly new, like designer, something you’ve been really looking to and admiring for a long time - can you commit to wearing it for the next four years? Those choices aren’t talked about as often but it’s little nuggets of improvement that can go a long way.
RP: Yeah, I definitely think now I love the idea around “Can you wear something for 30 wears?” When I shop with that mindset now I find I really love all my pieces.
SS: When you talk about fashion cycles - a spring/summer wardrobe and a fall/winter wardrobe - you know, I think it’s a really healthy way to look at what’s coming out. And you know human wants are insatiable, the need for freshness is undeniable — it’s why we have a marketplace — but if you can commit to something that truly makes you feel a certain way and know that its an investment, thinking about it as an investment helps in the long run with cutting out the frivolous nature of impulse shopping. That shift - shopping for those key times in the season can really create good patterns.
RP: I recently thought of how I can stay on trend but also honor my values, and I feel like shopping secondhand, like you said, is really really valuable because you have those core staple pieces but if you’re like “Oh, I’d really like a scarf today” - go thrifting, like you said! Get a cute scarf, incorporate that in your wardrobe that way instead of getting it from Forever 21 or wherever.
SS: The more we can avoid fast fashion, the healthier the entire global economy can become. But truly, there are so many incredible resellers, so many incredible vintage options. You’re lengthening the lifespan of a garment or piece of jewelry, and that ultimately keeps it out of a landfill.
So there you have it, folks - avoid fast fashion and thrift thrift thrift! If you need more incentive to build an eco-friendly wardrobe this year, check out Renee’s article about why giving up fast fashion was one of the best things she’s ever done. Find out more about how she incorporates sustainability into her modeling career at model4greenliving.com. Find out more about Sarah’s sustainable styling on Instagram @sarahslutsky.