For me, fashion is a way to tap into my inner being and discover how I feel and what I think. Through this medium, I also create and explore my identity, to project whatever it is I’m feeling. I look back on the evolution of my style and I can see why I’m often likened to Linda Evangelista’s ‘style chameleon’, ever-changing, experimental, but always effortless.
I am also what people call “political”, I use style as a way of subtly communicating my ideologies, beliefs, ethics and moral philosophy. This attitude towards fashion is why I have deep respect for designers and brands who are influenced by social and cultural values and run their businesses with integrity, thoughtfulness and creativity.
To me as a creative individual, supporting the work and vision of other creative individuals is important; but as a deeply “political” individual, supporting the work of individuals whose ethical values align with mine is essential.
When fellow vegan Edina Szender, New York-based founder of Vegan Resort Wear reached out to me, I assumed by the brand name we would be automatic allies since I’m also vegan.
So when I browsed the website – full of dreamy images of effortlessly styled women in beautiful classic linen clothing and filled with useful information about its workers, supply chain and processes – it confirmed my gut feeling. Deciding to work together was a no-brainer.
Now the Vegan Resort Wear brand name might evoke preconceived notions about ‘vegan fashion’ and ‘resort wear’ but don’t let the obvious title fool you into thinking you know its offerings – it’s more contemporary and chic than the name implies. I wouldn’t expect anything less of a brand who manufactures their garments in New York.
The Brooklyn factory responsible for producing the clothing is “like family” to the Szender. Judging by the images and details about staff hourly rates and company history on the site, it’s clear that Vegan Resort Wear is ethically manufactured. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Compassion is what drives most vegans to make a difference in this world, and treating humans and animals with dignity and respect is a non-negotiable for eco-conscious ethical fashion labels like Vegan Resort Wear.
The collections are produced in limited-edition small batches fulfilling my desire for exclusivity and minimal environmental impact (small batch production invariably means less is wasted). It’s also made of 100% linen, a summer-weight fabric derived from the flax plant which means its natural, biodegradable and eco-friendly. The fabric is sourced from Europe which adds a luxurious touch.
Now choosing the items for the collaboration proved difficult because I adore all the colours on offer – oatmeal, Sahara, baby pink, baby blue, off-white and navy. Deciding which colours would be best for each item – paper-bag-waisted shorts, the tie-back top and the lounge pants – was difficult. As I do when faced with a hard choice, I use the process of elimination first.
It was easy to rule out the off-white colour – too much maintenance for me, particularly as I live a very outdoorsy lifestyle. I then ruled out baby pink. Pink doesn’t feature heavily in my wardrobe because I’m not a “millennial pink” type woman. Blue hues are my jam. But then I still had to answer these questions:
Of the remaining colours, which colour for which item? I thought to myself. Do I go with a navy top and baby blue shorts, or vice versa? Or baby blue for both? But then what about the pants? Which colour would be best?
Taking into consideration the existing items and various colours in my current wardrobe, I eventually decided on baby blue for the shorts and top, and oatmeal for the lounge pants.
When the parcel arrives it’s packaged in a recycled cardboard box (of course) lined with acid-free and FSC certified tissue paper (brilliant) and sealed with carton tape that is 100% plant-derived and biodegradable (above and beyond!), I pulled out the items and instantly became infatuated.
As I am accustomed to doing in my almost decade-long foray into the sustainable fashion world, I study the fabric, the silhouette and read the garment labels. They were even more gorgeous up close and personal than what I’d seen online. The linen fabric was extravagantly soft to the touch. The backless tie top, the pants, the shorts – all understated, all elegant and me to a tee.
When I view garments on a website, I am often sceptical of how it will look on my 5’2 tiny frame. Often in editorials, the pieces always look striking and stunning on a glamazonian C-busted model, but when it arrives, it’s lacklustre and fits weirdly on me given my small stature. But I had no problems with Vegan Resort Wear. The garments, including the cropped style draw-string waisted pants, fit my petite proportions. The ties – on the pants, the top and the shorts – help with this; genius really because you can loosen or tighten depending on the look you’re striving for. Want higher waist pants? You got it. Want them looser? No problem, just untie and drop them a little. Same with the shorts. Same with the backless top, no bra necessary.
The garments’ relaxed and casual nature is highly suitable to the occasions it has been created made for: summer holidays, beach getaways and travelling to tropical destinations. The timelessness of the pieces and its eco-luxe vibe further enhanced my feelings about the brand.
Edina Szender is a savvy vegan fashion entrepreneur. To capture and accentuate the mood of summer with classic versatile designs and adding an eye-catching head-turning piece like the backless tie top shows her ability to adapt her collection to fulfil a modern woman’s need for comfort and playfulness. Personally, I’m all about the sass, so the more playful and cheeky the garment, the better.
Linen is also the perfect fabric for summer collections – the natural, lightweight material allows for easy movement and air circulation, a must when temperatures run high. It is also renowned for creasing, but this only adds to the fabric’s charm in my opinion.
I got the opportunity to wear the garments when Ben and I travelled to the Sunshine Coast for the weekend. The bungalow we booked through Airbnb was the ideal place to wear the Vegan Resort Wear pieces (and of course, the right location for a shoot!). The light colours and effortless sophistication of the garments matched my personal aesthetic and reflected the location’s relaxed ambience. Worn at the beach, to dinner and everywhere in between, the clothes transitioned without a hitch. Szender and Vegan Resort Wear clearly understand my needs as a style-worshipping eco-conscious vegan woman.
After a long day, I observed the classic pieces hanging beautifully at the foot of the bed, and it only served to remind me what fashion is all about. It had been months since I felt inspired in this way about a fashion brand that we’d worked with. It’s always wonderful when collaborating with a conscious brand that has a solid understanding of their core demographic. And when you feel amazing in their clothes, catch others looking you up and down appreciatively, and update your Facebook profile pics to show off how fantastic you look in their outfits – you know it’s a match made in heaven.
Thank you to Edina Szender and Vegan Resort Wear for creating a visually stunning and cohesive summer range that I’ll be wearing this summer and every summer to come.
Here’s to a slower, stylish and cruelty-free fashion present and future.
Photographer: Ben McGuire
Styling & Creative: Jennifer Nini
Location: Sunrise Palm Bungalow, Noosa, Australia