From Fast Fashion to Fair Fashion

Fair Fashion is exploding right now - Ethical Fashion Guide

– Lauren Engelke’s Journey from Fast Fashion to Fair Fashion

Why would you make this job even harder for yourself?

…was the reaction that Lauren Engelke got when she decided to become a fair and sustainable fashion stylist.

Making her way from an on-set tailor to a stylist, her day-to-day job was being on set for photo shoots and creating the best looks for her clients. One day in New York, working on a campaign for a natural cosmetics brand, sustainable stylist Lauren Engelke began to see the conundrum that she found herself in.

“I began to think that something wasn’t quite right. As a stylist, you work with garments that come straight from the factory and often, conventional clothes smell of chemicals, which is totally disgusting. So while we were advertising natural and well-produced cosmetics, we were dressing the models in fast fashion [treated with chemicals].”

Lauren then quickly discovered the terrible reality of fast fashion.

“I was shocked when I found out that clothes were still made in a way involving slave labour. In the ’90s, I had heard about that but always assumed that these conditions must have been improved by now.”

After digging deeper into the subject and educating herself, Lauren finally decided to offer styling for sustainable brands professionally.

“I always had thrifted to find unique clothes, but now it was because I just couldn’t go back to buying fast fashion. I wanted to make my work align with my ethics.” And although making that shift meant a big change in both private and professional life, Lauren was not scared of doing it. “I have been through career shifts before, and New York seemed ready for a change! I just felt like the time was right.”

However, her peers had reservations, as she tells me: “As a stylist, you are always under pressure. You have to source all these different clothes from the companies, style them, then bring them all back. It is a very physically demanding job. Not to mention that, especially in New York, it is very competitive.”

Some of Lauren’s colleagues thought that focusing on sustainability would be an additional burden on top of all the challenges that stylists have to face, she adds. However, making the switch has been a success for her.
“It helped me set myself apart in an oversaturated industry. And although I had originally planned to only add sustainable styling to all my other services, people became so interested in that option that I am able to exclusively work in line with my ethics.”

And not only the garments Lauren worked with changed, but her whole job was also turned upside down.
“I was primarily an on-set fashion stylist and tailor. After posting my fair fashion looks to Instagram, I started receiving requests for private style consultations. I have gone from working on set to becoming a content creator and personal stylist! I am much more independent now, free to travel and in total control of my workload. I sometimes miss the social aspect of working on set; it was always an incredibly interesting group of people, usually from all over the world.”

And how has she personally changed, I ask her?

“I now consume much more consciously”

“Whereas I used to have well over 100 pieces in my closet, I now have about 50 and it still feels like too much.
This morning, I stood in front of my closet and looked at three dresses that essentially do the same thing and I asked myself: Why do I even have three of these?

I also have a much closer relationship with each garment. When something breaks, I repair it, and when I stop liking a piece, I try and update it. I now feel reconnected to my creativity and that is huge for me.”

So what advice would Lauren give any interested person, private or professional?

“If you are interested in shifting your career towards sustainability, now is a great time. Fair fashion is exploding right now. If you are thinking more in terms of adopting a fair fashion wardrobe, I recommend approaching it piece-by-piece. Identify one piece that you need, maybe a blazer, and try just shopping for that item. It’s much less overwhelming that way.”

And Lauren points out that consuming consciously is much more affordable than it is often considered.

Sustainable fashion does not have to be expensive. It can be if you want it to be,” she laughs. “I’ve also come across a lot of brands that are totally accessible. And as making the shift encourages buying less and shopping second hand, it can be budget friendly.”

So after going through that process of changing her career and adopting a whole new mindset, I ask her what is her favourite part of working in fair fashion.

“It is fun to work in an industry where I meet people every day who are interested in making a positive change and want to do good,” she says and smiles.

Lauren’s sustainable fashion favourites:

Lauren has gathered an impressive list of 500+ brands, which you will be able to discover on her blog divided into categories (looking for sustainable workwear? Sustainable knitwear? Kids’ clothes?). Also, make sure to check out Lauren’s blog to profit from her massive professional knowledge and amazing sense of style.

This post has been proofread by Kendall Norman.

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