Over the next few months we will be running a series of interviews on Ethical Fashion Bloggers about inspirational bloggers. We hope to share how fashion bloggers are having a positive influence on the world around them and helping to promote ethical fashion and sustainable style.
In our first interview I interview Esther Freeman of Ms Wanda’s Wardrobe, a fashion blog dedicated to ‘Looking good on the outside, feeling good on the inside’. Ms Wanda’s Wardrobe has just been announced as a finalist in the Source Awards (the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Global Awards for Sustainable Fashion)
Why did you start Ms Wandas wardrobe and what inspired you to start blogging?
I went to a swish and it really opened my eyes to the impact my wardrobe had on the world. I’d never thought about it before, which was kind of strange as I’m generally pretty socially and politically conscious. I realised how blind sided I’d been by the fashion industry.
Following this I decided to give myself a challenge of going for a year only wearing upcycled, pre-loved or vintage clothing. I blogged about the experience, taking photos of my outfits each day. This is how Ms Wanda’s Wardrobe was born.
It was good fun, but to be honest I realised afterwards that I wasn’t much of an outfit blogger. I was more interested in blogging about news, issues and campaigns around ethical fashion. And I felt there wasn’t a huge number of people doing that so there was a niche for me to neatly fit in. And that’s pretty much where I am today.
Do you have any previous experience in ethical fashion and or blogging and how does your day job fit with your blogging?
I had no experience in the fashion industry before I started, apart from being a consumer. And that’s pretty much how I want to keep it. I see my blog as the voice of the consumer and I try to keep it fresh and honest.
When I’m not doing Ms Wanda’s I work as a freelance digital content creator and campaigner (which translates as blogging, making internet films and doing social media for NGOs like ActionAid and Greenpeace). So it all kind of fits in quite nicely. However I didn’t start blogging because of my job – my blogging helped me find the work I do now. So even if you’re not making money directly from your blog, don’t under-estimate it as an pathway in to other work.
How would you describe your style?
I’ve never really thought that much about my style – I always thought it changed depending on what mood I’m in. But my friend said the other day that she thought I had a very distinct style – she recognised me being influenced a lot by bold colours and patterns, which were feminine but never really girly. I realised later she was right.
What is your favourite ethical fashion brand and why?
I wouldn’t want to single out a favourite as there are lots doing great stuff. However I have to confess to always checking out the People Tree catalogue when it comes in, and having a huge amount of Tara Starlet in my wardrobe. But more generally I work out a look I like and then try and source it through ethical labels, vintage or second hand stores.
What is the Fashion Mob and what made you want to start it?
When I started researching the ethical fashion sector I often heard major brands say they’d change if “consumers wanted it”. They claimed they didn’t, but I knew this wasn’t entirely true. Many consumers don’t know what is going on in the name of fashion as there’s not enough transparency in the system. Others know, and are angry, but just don’t have a loud enough voice.
So I started pulling together a group of ethical fashionistas who were prepared to shout about what we want. Our founding principal is that the more of us there are the louder we can be – it’s a people power movement.
We’re still quite new, but so far this year we’ve had the chance to support some great NGOs, including Anti-Slavery International’s Cotton Crimes campaign; and Adidas campaign from the Clean Clothes Campaign. However we’ve got our first independent campaign coming up this Christmas. I’m not saying much right now, but it’s going to be a lot of fun!!
How important do you see blogging as a way of spreading the word about ethical fashion and bringing about change?
I love the blogosphere as I see it as a space to hear about issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about. And it’s growing bigger and more influential by the day. So in that respect it’s very important. But (and it’s quite a big but) it isn’t going to change the world. That’s why I started the Fashion Mob, to be able to take that discussion and action further, right out on to the street if needs be.
How do you see the future of sustainable fashion?
I think we’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time. However it isn’t enough. We need to push brands to move away from tokenistic things, like recycled paper bags, and on to the bigger stuff, like children working as slaves. This stuff is tough to fix, but that’s not to say we can’t. We just have to keep on pushing and letting companies, as well as providing solutions for how things can be better.
What tips would you give to any fashion bloggers who would like to start promoting ethical and sustainable fashion?
The most important thing is to be yourself. That was the mistake I made at the beginning. I just started outfit blogging because that was what people seemed to do, but it wasn’t really me. That’s not to say it’s not right for other people. It’s just you need to find your niche and your voice. Most importantly be true to yourself.
Ms Wanda’s Christmas Fashion Mob campaign is going to be launched in the next few weeks. It’s going to be fun, exciting and they need as many people involved as possible. To get involved sign up to the Fashion Mob at www.mswandas.co.uk/fashion-mob
A big thank you to Esther for being the first of our Inspiration Fashion Bloggers. If you would like to suggest a Fashion Blogger that has inspired you for our series, please get in touch.
With warmest wishes