How do you define yourself?
I know there’s no denying that I’m an influencer. I think as long as you have platform that has reach, what you say and what you do matters. I’m not too fond of the term as I feel it’s coercive term. In recent years I’ve made it my mission to become more of an activist and a changemaker and use my platform for good. I only collaborate with brands that align with me and I’m mindful about what brands I want to support and promote.
Why did you choose to go back to study?
I could see the impact the fashion industry had on people and on the planet and I just wanted to make a change. I noticed how excessive and fast it had become. And how much waste it was generating. I even worried about the impact it had on the minds of young people who were trying to keep up with the industry’s fast pace. I can’t make a change without understanding the causes behind the impact.
How has this learning influenced you perception of what fashion is?
Oh, it has completely changed my perception of fashion. As much as I’ve loved fashion growing up, I always had a very superficial view of it. Having a deeper understanding of how the industry functions has made me appreciate it a lot more.
Which brands do you feel are leading the way in sustainability?
Any brand that is leading with a purpose. 2020 proved to us that brands were community leaders, that they were makers and shifters within their communities. The brands that had no message stood out like a sore thumb. Brands don’t just sell products anymore. Brands are now sending out messages through the way they source, manufacture, and engage in ethical practices.
Stella Mccartney is the OG of sustainable luxury. It’s a brand that has always been cruelty-free and has sourced its materials ethically. Other brands like Patagonia repair customers’ old garments. Their goal, ultimately, is to find solutions to environmental issues. They also produce the best environmental documentaries and raise funds for causes around the world. Selfridges recently launched project Earth to encourage their customers to change the way they shop. Even brands are aware of how unsustainable retail has become. The ones leading now are the ones that are placing people and the planet at the heart of their business.
How do you relate sustainability to the business of fashion?
I think that transparency is important in a fashion business’s sustainable journey. There’s so much greenwashing out there. We need brands, to be honest. We all appreciate honesty. It is the best policy. After being transparent and identifying the problems in their supply chains, businesses need to work towards using sustainable materials, regenerative and recycled ones. It’s important that businesses operate with circularity at the forefront of their thinking. Closing the loop is a term we hear a lot in sustainable fashion. Which as the phrase implies, is moving from a traditional linear system to a more circular one. So garments are designed, manufactured, and consumed so as to circulate within society for as long as possible.
Do you think sustainability will be forming consumer buying habits in the next few years?
100% Just as consumers today are taking a closer look at the food they consume and the chemicals they put into their bodies, they are also shifting their purchasing decisions to create a cleaner and more ethical environment through the clothes they wear.
Social media has led to an upsurge of throw-away fashion — how do you feel the ‘new luxury’ is being defined?
I might say something that can be quite controversial now. But I believe true luxury is having a unique sense of style. I always say that real personal style is effortless. It’s the way you dress when nobody is watching when you’re making a trip to the supermarket and you’re on the school run. And not when you’re posting it for Instagram.
Social media has fueled hyper-consumption because the masses earnestly follow trends without having an opinion on them. And there are A LOT of trends. So it’s become a domain of imitation or “lifestyle envy” if you like. You see something you like on Instagram once and you think, ‘That’s cute.’ It’s seeing it repeatedly, and on people whose life looks desirable, that puts you over into ‘I have to have that,’. It’s a vicious cycle. The same thing happens when a new trend comes along. What I’m trying to say is… having your own personal style is the new luxury.
What story are you telling with your social media channels?
Exactly that. Nurturing your own personal style while being mindful of the way you consume. I want to encourage people to create capsule wardrobes that are versatile and that can stand the test of time. Ultimately, I want to inspire people to consume for longevity. A lot of people may have noticed that a lot of my content has disappeared off my page. And that’s because I really want to drive change, and a lot of my content was just driving hyper-consumption.
What has surprised you most about your followers?
Just how much they’ve developed too. How their journeys have changed.
What kind of content do you enjoying creating the most?
Content that will really make a positive impact. As small as a quick story on getting up early and hitting the gym can inspire people to get moving. And now I’m really enjoying shedding a light on brands doing great things in the hope that I can get them the support they need.
What kind of brands do you align with and why?
I took the recent decision to work only with brands that align with my vision and have ethical practice and sustainability at the core of the business. Declining projects that provide reach has been the tough part of making this decision. But I have to stand by what I believe in even if it means stumps my growth. Growth was never been a priority for me anyway. My measure of success has always been my engagement. Having conversations with my followers about things that matter is what really matters.
What is something about you that nobody knows?
I guess that I’m a very sensitive person. We forget at times that there are humans behind these Instagram pages. Being sensitive can be a blessing and a curse I guess. You have to have thick skin if you’re public on Instagram.
But I’m also very shy, which isn’t the best trait to have in this industry. I’m learning to be a little more outspoken so I can share more.
Follow Hannah on instagram @Hannah_rsk for more updated on sustainable fashion and lifestyle.
Photoshoot produced by Capital D Studio
Creative direction by Meredith Damouni
Makeup by Fenty Beauty
Shot on location at Capital D Studio , Dubai