EKOLUV Founder Emily Talks Ethical Style

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Can shopping be a way to give back? Emily Kate Symes, founder of sustainable digital fashion and lifestyle boutique EKOLUV, thinks so. She believes that every purchase you make (or do not make) makes a statement about the kind of world you want. Based in Australia, the model-turned-stylist-turned-designer-turned-entrepreneur (phew!) founded Ekoluv to provide a unique selection of ethical fashion to conscious shoppers.

 

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At first glance, visit to the EKOLUV website feels like any other high-end fashion website: sleek, elegant, enticing. Then it sinks in that the items you’re looking at (and pulling out your wallet for) are produced ethically, incorporate recycled materials and didn’t involve harming animals. You also learn that each purchase you make from the site helps pave the way to empowerment and more opportunities for women. Which, of course, makes us click back again and again.
We sat down with Emily for a chat – see the answers below.

 

Could you tell me about yourself, your background and what led you to the creation of Ekoluv?

I’m an eco ambassador, model, stylist, designer turned entrepreneur and sustainability expert. My blog EKO & LUX and online store EKOLUV follow my passion toward a more eco-friendly and socially responsible way of living. My aim is to raise awareness, of the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry. I hope to provide tools and information to empower and inspire people to make more conscious decisions with their purchases whilst still remain stylish.I’m a passionate social, environmental and animal rights activist and a member of the Fellowship 500 an initiative of the Ethical Fashion Forum, uniting 500 pioneering innovators in Fashion and Sustainability, Globally. My love of Vintage, Ethical and Sustainable Fashion fuelled the idea to start my own boutique enabling consumers to access fashion on a whole other level, giving people the choice to shop more consciously without having to compromise on quality or style. Every purchase helps to empower women through opportunity through the organisations  EKOLUV is partnered with. EKOLUV was recently chosen as a Finalist in the 2013 Global Awards for Sustainable Fashion.I hosted and presented various eco fashion events including the Sustainable Fashion Show for World Environment Day 2013 and I was also an ambassador for one of the first Health and Wellness Congresses in Asia where I worked closely with WHO (World Health Organisation) leading those to a more healthier and happier lifestyle. I work closely with many eco-fashion designers and brands to bring about more awareness of the importance of Eco Friendly and Sustainable Fashion. I live a sustainable lifestyle where possible and I believe in positive social change through the empowerment of women by way of education and opportunity.

I am currently filming an eco documentary about the dangers of plastic pollution and the effect this has on our environment which will be released late next year.

Why ethical fashion?

We chose ethical fashion as it indicates an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.Ethical fashion represents an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation and minimising and counteracting environmental concerns.

My aim is for the ethical and sustainable fashion movement to eventually become the norm. Allowing people to work a normal work week and earn a living wage which can sustain their needs. Where people making our clothes have their basic human rights met. A place where there is no child labour, no forced labour and where health and safety regulations are followed. Our relationship with fashion has changed dramatically and has a significant impact on people and the environment.

We want to enable consumers to know the full story behind the products they are buying, that both
the planet and the people along the supply chain are treated with respect and dignity.

Because we believe in creating and supporting opportunities for people in developing countries to benefit in an ethical and sustainable manner from the international market whilst being environmentally conscious of our practices. We do this through our choice to select/source/support/promote and sell exceptional quality, stylish items either produced under accredited associations and or ethical practices and methods of sourcing.

Our products are sourced from all over the world and in a variety of developing countries. We only encourage brands that use the highest quality, and or certified organic & ethically grown raw materials into their fashion wear. We consistently strive to ensure that all our products in some way leave a minimal carbon and water footprint.

What do you think are some challenges faced by those who choose to start a sustainable business?

There are many challenges one can face when starting a sustainable business because ethical and sustainable fashion is still a growing market and therefore it can be hard to know where to begin and how to get support when the fashion industry’s business model is based on the principle of fast ‘throw away’ fashion and planned obsolescence. It can also be hard to find and know your customer so do plenty of research on who it is that will be interested in the products you are selling and the brand and story behind it. You have to invest in marketing and social media and other ways so your target market can find you easily and you can build a community or following of loyal customers who will support you and your sustainable business. It can be disheartening when such big companies who do not support ethical and sustainable fashion are so dominant in the market that you want to penetrate into but you have to remember to be patient – sustainable fashion is growing and the demand for it is rising. I believe sustainable and ethical fashion is the future and will eventually become a standard in fashion. Remember to network and connect with other like-minded individuals and businesses that share the same passion and ethics in sustainable business as you.

 

Which of EKOLUV’s achievements are you most proud of?

 

I am most proud of creating awareness of the importance of sustainable and ethical fashion for our planet and each other. I am also proud of providing people with a convenient and simple way of shopping consciously. That satisfaction when you get feedback from customers who said that they now shop consciously because we enable them and provide them a platform to do so and that we have challenged them on how they feel about fashion, that in itself is rewarding. Seeing the positive impacts our products sold have on communities, where we help empower women to create better opportunities for them and their families.

 

How do you view the future of sustainable style?

 

We know that regardless of what is perceived as ‘fashionable’, people do want to be part of the solution to poverty, social injustice and environmental degradation and in most cases will embrace opportunities to do so – but at the same time don’t want to compromise on ‘quality’ or style.
More people today are becoming aware of the dangers of toxicity and the links to what we wear, ultimately having an affect on our bodies and we do not want to be clothed in fabrics that are harmful; rather are free of chemicals and pesticides and the associated negative consequences.
I see the future of sustainable style to become a standard in fashion, when attitudes change and when enough people want ethical practices and sustainable methods in fashion implemented we will see a big shift in the fashion industry. Sustainable and ethical fashion is the future and will eventually become the norm.

 

Emily shares her favourite vegan items from EKOLUV with us:

 

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1.Bag, Nami

2. Poncho, EKOLUV

3. Clutch, Indigo Fairtrade

4. Vest, Unreal Fur

5. Kimono, EKOLUV

 

Photos from EKOLUV and EKO+LUX.

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Sascha Camilli

Founder and Editor

A passionate changemaker, Sascha Camilli is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vilda Magazine. Born in Moscow and raised in Stockholm, she has also lived in Los Angeles, London, Milan and Florence, before landing in her current hometown of Brighton, UK. She was chosen as one of Vegan Good Life Magazine’s Vegan Business Influencers of 2015 and nominated for Best Vegan Entrepreneur by Unicorn Goods Best of Vegan Awards 2017. She is also a Huffington Post blogger, THRIVE Career Mentor at Reading University and speaker at events such as VegFest and VegoVision Sweden. She loves to travel, do yoga on her sea-view balcony, and drink too much coffee.

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