April 22, 2024

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Fashion come on you

Sustainable Fashion Activists Break Down Their Career Paths

As climate change remains an outstanding issue, particularly for younger generations, many dedicated activists are choosing careers in sustainable fashion. While fast fashion continues to affect the environment, the movement for slow, ethical fashion grows.

The push for sustainable fashion has involved a number of people from influencers to politicians, and everyone in between. There are growing platforms dedicated to providing resources for fashion enthusiasts. One of these platforms is The Sustainable Fashion Forum, which works to raise awareness and build community.

Following their latest conference, Teen Vogue caught up with The Sustainable Fashion Forum’s Director of Partnerships and Strategy Ellie Hughes and Production Director Pame Bueno. They explained why they chose careers in sustainable fashion and what advice they would give to those who are interested.

Ellie Hughes.

Photo courtesy of Ellie Hughes.

Teen Vogue: What got you into sustainable fashion?

Ellie Hughes: Back in 2015, my perception of the fashion industry was completely rocked when I watched The Trust Cost documentary. With no prior experience, I began researching and blogging about sustainable, ethical fashion and trying to spread the word to other consumers. Through my time as a blogger, I ended up getting offered a marketing position at a fashion company focused on fair wages and creating economic opportunity for women. At that company, I learned so much about what it really takes to do things the right way and how many layers there are that the average consumer doesn’t ever see. 

Pame Bueno: My interest in fashion sparked as a child when I watched my grandmother sew garments from her Treadle Singer machine in São Paulo, Brazil. I instantly became fascinated with clothing design and construction, creating my designs out of paper and any old clothes I could find. I grew up with very little living in Bogotá, Colombia and hand-me-downs were the way my family could dress me. Instead of finding shame in this, I couldn’t wait to see what I would get next and what I could do to alter it to fit my style. I had a life experience that told me that there is value in secondhand clothing and also that there is a gap in the fashion industry we are not addressing. As a young adult, I immigrated to the United States for higher education  and kept dressing with the affordability and uniqueness of secondhand clothing, which I would continue to tailor to the needs of my body. After college, I continued my studies but focused on fashion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I studied garment construction and that’s where my passion for sustainable fashion flourished. I up-cycled men’s suits for my thesis gallery show and created sculpture wearable pieces. The response from the guests was so impactful. They were awed to see just how old clothes could be made into something new.