Ethical Fashion People

How I Approach Ethical & Sustainable Fashion With Teens – Part 1

How I Approach Ethical & Sustainable Fashion With Teens - Part 1
Written by Jennifer Nini

Sustainability in the fashion industry is a common topic of conversation within the Eco Warrior Princess office. I don't wait for big events like Fashion Revolution to prompt discussions with team members. Each time they are in the office, it seems we have a chat about what an ethical brand is up to in the developing world, or what an eco fashion brand's new capsule collection looks like.

Now as the interns and I start to prepare and film a series of #haulternative videos for Fashion Revolution Week I sit down with them to talk about sustainable fashion concepts.

For those of you who are unaware, a 'haulternative' is a twist on the traditional fashion haul videos you see on YouTube that promote wasteful fashion consumption, usually featuring cheap fast fashion pieces. The aim of haulternative videos is to showcase our wardrobes without buying anything new.

While we won't be launching the films yet as we'll wait until Fashion Revolution Week to do that, I still wanted to take some time to chat with the girls prior to the video release.

First up is the lovely Georgia Foley who, when not working in the office as a staff writer and casual model for our ethical fashion shoots, is completing her Year 12 studies and helps to manage our Instagram community.

I asked Georgia to bring in a couple of much loved pre-loved outfits for the filming. She brought in two very cute outfits that she tells me she's had for 'some time'.

Talking Sustainable Fashion with Teens - Eco Warrior Princess

Preloved outfit for teens - Eco Warrior Princess

At just 17 years of age, Georgia is only just learning about the perils of fast fashion as well as the environmental and social benefits of responsibly-made fashion. While she hasn't perfected the art of sustainable fashion shopping yet, Georgia is at least an avid op-shop and thrift shopper.

Jen: How would you describe your personal style?

Georgia: My style always depends on my mood and what I’m doing for the day. Some days its simple, made up of basic essential pieces and others it’s quirky where I wear some really different pieces. Occasionally I dress girly [when I'm not in my school uniform] and most days quite basic and a little tomboyish.

How long have you been second-hand shopping for?

My mum had been dragging me to second hand shops and garage sales since I was young. I never really enjoyed it or saw the benefits of it until I was around 14.

Which thrift or charity stores did you get these garments from?

Most of these came from church run charity stores like St Vincent de Paul.

Preloved denim skirt Eco Warrior Princess

Discussing sustainable fashion with teens

Do you remember the prices of each item?

Some of these were bought as a ‘fill a bag for $5’ like this off the shoulder top. This tube top was given to me for free. But I’m pretty sure the rest of the items were priced from $2 to $5

How long have you had the garments for?

The off the shoulder top I’ve had since maybe 2014 or 2015. The black wrap skirt was bought at the start of this year. And the rest of the items I got from the middle to the end of 2016.

How many times have you worn each of the items?

I have worn the blue skirt to death I wear it so much. The off the shoulder top I did wear a lot, not so much anymore but I still wear it when I feel. The tube top I haven’t worn yet because it’s a bit big for me but I’ll get wear out of it this year as I’ve figured out how to style it. I try to wear the black skirt as I love it so much but only a few of my tops go with it, so sometimes its hard put into an outfit. I think I’ll invest in a white t-shirt or something to go with it.

Georgia Foley - Eco Warrior Princess - fash rev

When someone asks you were you got your outfit from do you feel embarrassed to admit its second-hand?

No I don’t. I love the look on their face when they realise their outfit cost a lot and mine was under $20. Sometimes however I don’t wear things because I don’t want the person who might have given it away to see it. I know it’s really silly though.

If I really love something I will usually forget about the price and buy it. But you have to think about the quality and timelessness you’re getting in the clothing for the price its worth. When I’m shopping second hand sometimes an item can be priced too high.

Prior to working at Eco Warrior Princess, had you heard of the Rana Plaza building collapse?

No, I hadn’t heard of it before working [here]. I researched it for an article and I was shocked that something like that could happen.

Georgia Foley - Eco Warrior Princess

Georgia Foley intern at Eco Warrior Princess

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There are so many factors that make up 'sustainable fashion' and it can be intimidating for adult women, much less teen girls, to know where to begin. The trick is to find an aspect of sustainable fashion that a young person can understand and have a natural conversation about that. This is what I generally do not just with young people, but people in general.

I was much older than Georgia when I started to learn about the destructive nature of unethical fashion but like Georgia I became a fan of second hand shopping in my early teens. Had someone taught me about fast fashion I may have become an advocate much early on.

Georgia has access to so much more information than I had at her age and as she's a part of the team and exposed to socially responsible businesses and brands, she is privy to much information that most lay people probably don't have easy access to - unless they do their own research.

So it'll be interesting to see how she navigates her way through our highly wasteful, superficial, consumerist world. I'm betting though she'll do just fine and she'll add her own unique voice to the Fashion Revolution. That's my hope anyway.

If you're keen to see our #haulternative videos once we launch them, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can subscribe here.

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she began this blog to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

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