Ethical Fashion People

How I Approach Ethical & Sustainable Fashion with Teens – Part 2

How I Approach Ethical & Sustainable Fashion with Teens - Part 2
Written by Jennifer Nini

This is the second instalment of a three-part blog post series for Fashion Revolution Week. You can read part one here.

Continuing our preparation for the #haulternative videos for Fashion Revolution Week (in which we reject the wasteful shopping messages embedded in typical YouTube ‘fashion haul’ videos and show off our existing wardrobes), I sit down with team member Steff Lister to chat about her favourite outfits.

Now a bit about Steff: When she’s not creating Instagram-worthy images, social media planning and modelling for Eco Warrior Princess, Steff attends high school as a Year 11 student. As a valued member of the team, I enjoy listening to her stories and perspectives. She gives me valuable insight into youth culture because she’s open about what’s happening in her life.

Sustainable Fashion with Teens - Eco Warrior Princess

Haulternative Video Steff's segment 3

When I was a teen, I remember feeling like my viewpoints didn’t matter to many of the adults around me, save for some favourite teachers, aunties and uncles who listened to what I had to say, and treated me like an equal. It’s why I’m hyper vigilant in the way I approach topics with our young team members. Communication and respect is a two-way street. I don’t believe that just because I am older, that my voice matters more than theirs. Their ideas and opinions are equally important.

Now at just 16 years of age, Steff is only now starting to learn about the negative impact of fast fashion on our environment and communities. She acknowledges that she’s far from cultivating a sustainable wardrobe. She’s completely honest about her shopping habits in her interview.

That’s what I love about my team members. They’re just real.

Besides, I don’t write people off just because they’re not ‘eco fashion’ perfect. No one’s perfect. So just because Steff isn’t a completely conscious consumer yet, doesn’t mean she won’t be.

Jen: How would you describe your personal style? 

Steff: Very urban. I like to switch it up a bit depending on the event or location one day. I can be going to the movies with my boyfriend in a denim skirt, belt and laced top and the next I can be in Noosa bra-less with a baggy top tied in a knot and a maxi skirt.

How I Approach Ethical & Sustainable Fashion with Teens - Steff

Steff Lister - chatting sustainable fashion with teens

My favoured style at the moment is denim skirts and belts with laced tops and either no bra or thin lacey bralettes which make the outfit comfortable to wear and displays that yes I have little boobs but I can still make them look cute. I’ve taken the approach to embrace my physique and not try to enhance it into something it’s not with push up bras etc.

Where do you normally go fashion shopping?

I go to a lot of surf shops and buy a lot of second hand branded items from a local Facebook group [that focusses on selling used items].

How often do you go shopping for fashion?

Very often, sadly I’m a shopaholic. I see an item I want and that’s it, I’ve decided I’m getting it. Often I see a great pic on insta that inspires me to try a new style or item which is why I shop all the time.

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

No I had not heard of it until [you] informed me. I didn’t even really know that sort of stuff happened in the fashion industry, so it’s quite saddening knowing that these things happen and its mostly youth that are unaware and mainly purchase from these big fast fashioned brands.

Why have you chosen these garments as your favourite garments?

Because I can switch up my style as I please. The colour and style makes things so flexible. I can literally go from fancy to casual in a split second, and it’s great because it makes my ever-changing style so much easier to deal with.

How I approach sustainable fashion with teens - Steff Lister - Eco Warrior Princess

Steff Lister - Eco Warrior Princess - fash rev

Which stores did you get these from?

Jay Jays, City Beach, Unearthed and from the second hand local Facebook group.

Do you remember the price?

Jay jays top was $20. White Mink Pink skirt was $50. Black laced top was $10 second hand. And my new favourite button-up denim skirt was $15 also second-hand. Brown belt was $10 from Jay Jays.

How long have you had the garments for?

The white skirt I’ve had for about a year, the Jay Jays top for a couple months now and the rest recently purchased a couple weeks ago.

How many times have you worn each of the items?

The white skirt has definitely had the most uses out of the lot, and the recently bought second hand items have been worn at least once a week and the Jay Jays top has been worn at least 10 times already.

Steff Lister - chatting eco fashion with teens

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Fast fashion shopping is an addiction for adult women, much less teen girls. I don’t blame Steff for being a shopaholic. I was one too. It’s a learned behaviour from being exposed to a trends-based disposable fashion consumer culture from such a young age. The clever fashion advertisements and pretty social media images are relentless in its determination to get you to buy cheaply-made cheap fashion. And with ingenious (but extremely creepy) Facebook and Google remarketing, fast fashion is hard to avoid.

So bringing empathy to any discussion about fast fashion shopping is essential because the last thing I want to do is ostracise young members of my team, or come from a place of judgement. I’ve been where Steff has been and it took me well into my adult years to learn that the fast fashion I was purchasing was unethical and destructive.

At 16 years old, Steff is already further ahead than most teen girls, and much further ahead than I was at her age. She has access to better information because she works at a sustainable brand for a mindful boss lady. By being exposed to the Eco Warrior Princess mindset and environment, I am confident that given enough time, she too will be a force in the Fashion Revolution. Fingers crossed.

If you’re keen to watch our entire #haulternative video series, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel 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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