Andrea Plell is not only an example of someone who promotes socially conscious fashion, she lives it. Walking the walk while inspiring and promoting others who share her interests in ethical fashion is what Plell does through her company Ecologique Fashion, a fashion pr firm offering several creative services. Her company’s roots are explained in this interview with Plell and how she has evolved as an entrepreneur with a message of compassion and hope and a vision of a brighter tomorrow through fashion.
You are the brains behind an ethical fashion firm called Ecologique Fashion. Can you tell us what moves you about ethical fashion and why is it so important in your life?
Ethical fashion moves me because it goes beyond being fashionable or trendy, it is literally the consciousness “what am I wearing?” Much like the organic or GMO free food movement, ethical fashion poses the question of a garment’s origin; what is it made of, who it was made by and where. Additionally, ethical fashion promotes transparency in production, encouraging designers, knitters, sewers, and pattern makers to adopt less or no waste processes – taking the environment and future generations into consideration. Ethical fashion is very important to me because it promotes compassionate creation, and thoughtful design. Anyone can be a fashion designer, but to utilize organic textiles, create no waste patterns, use natural dyeing systems, pay fair wages, and/or to house your entire production line locally is what will sustain the livelihoods of our communities and environment.
How do you describe Ecologique Fashion and what can people learn at ecologiquefashion.com?
Ecologique Fashion was originally a blog and fashion event that I started in 2008 upon discovering the harsh realities of the fashion industry. I didn’t know that the clothing available to me at the malls were supporting child labor and sweatshops in third world countries, or that the synthetic materials used to make affordable trendy clothing –like acrylic or polyester- were poisoning my body. In order to educate consumers on these realities and offer them sustainable alternatives, most of my blog entries included ethical designer and brand features as well as educational pieces where I would break down types of ethical fashion and unveil companies that “green washed” (talk the “green” talk, but not walk the walk). As my passion was to support ethical designers and support a paradigm shift in the industry, Ecologique Fashion eventually evolved into a pr company that now works directly with several ethical fashion brands in the San Francisco/ Bay Area offering them marketing and creative services in addition to event production and press relations.
How can the everyday consumer get involved in the ethical fashion movement and what do you consider to be the biggest roadblock consumers face when trying to become more involved?
I believe the biggest roadblock for consumers is miseducation. With the popularity of yoga, wellness, and organic foods you can tell that people are becoming more concerned than ever with what they consume, however because of this spike in interest many companies are taking it to their advantage to market in a way that uses “green” lingo, misleading consumers in order to sell their goods. For example, using the word “natural” to describe a product really doesn’t mean it has any health value whatsoever and there is no regulation that prohibits its use in advertising.
In order to involve yourself in ethical fashion the first thing to do is to become aware of your consumption – even if it means tweaking your habits a bit. Asking yourself if you really need something before you buy it. Doing research on where your clothing is coming from, what it is made of and reading labels. Being more creative and recycling clothes that already exist in your wardrobe and restyling them into new outfits. Not feeling as though you need to abide by monthly trends and creating your own fashion statements.
You also produce a beautiful quarterly publication called REFIX Magazine. What are your goals for the publication and what has been the feedback from the public so far?
In creating REFIX Magazine my goal was not only to support an ethical shift of consciousness in the fashion industry, but to also maintain a publication that promoted self-love and awareness. As a teen I was always so intrigued by the beautiful models and pretty products that dawned each page of most magazines, without realizing that constantly reading the underlying message that “I need to look like this” or “I have to buy that” did a number on my self confidence.
Since its inception, REFIX Magazine has gotten tremendous feedback from all over the world, which encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.
If you could change just one thing in the fashion world through your work with Ecologique Fashion, what would it be?
To slow fashion down. We used to have a Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer fashion calendar, but jump twenty years and now there are dozens of new styles delivered to mainstream fashion outlets every week. With this comes a more frequent carbon footprint in transportation needs, increased use of easily produced synthetic textiles, the exploitation of factory workers putting in unpaid overtime in harsh conditions, and an urge for consumers to buy quantities over quality.
If consumers could instead put their dollar towards local artisans and fashion economies and ethical practices, they could support local supply chains, grow jobs, and enhance the culture of their community… making fashion much more than just another outfit.