Here at Vilda, we’re proud to call ourselves pioneers of ethical fashion – we came onto the scene when not many ethical fashion publications were around and not many people even talked about vegan fashion. But there was another publication that came to life around the same time we did: Eluxe Magazine. Pioneering ethical luxury, Eluxe operated in the same space we did – and we’ve always admired the magazine’s savvy and entrepreneurial founder, Chere Di Boscio. So recently, our own founder Sascha Camilli caught up with Chere to have a talk about running an ethical magazine, inspiring progress, and obstacles in the industry.
What was your background before starting your magazine?
Chere: I worked as an editor for a variety of glossy print magazines: Velvet in Dubai, Stiletto, Prestige and the Dior client magazine in Paris. I had zero experience with digital publishing of any kind, but I did know the luxury fashion market pretty well.
Sascha: I was a journalist for Swedish and Italian lifestyle magazines such as Cosmopolitan, online editor for retailers like YOOX Group and copywriter for Farfetch and QVC, writer for Positive Luxury and PR for animal rights group PETA (which I still do today!).
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What prompted you to start the magazine?
Chere: I just got really tired of working on articles I was against for ethical reasons – ones that promoted fur, leather, unethically mined diamonds and gemstones, or promoting people and companies that I knew for a fact were totally unethical, if not downright nasty and harmful. I just couldn’t face myself! It was getting me down. I got wind of how some major luxury brands were becoming more sustainable (this is back in 2013) and I knew change was coming, so I thought it would be timely to launch the world’s first ever sustainable luxury magazine. And so Eluxe was born!
Sascha: My story is actually very similar to yours, Chere. I was tired of writing about calfskin shoes, snakeskin bags and fur coats. So I applied to the 2013 Marie Claire Inspire & Mentor Scheme to be mentored by web entrepreneur Poppy Dinsey, who helped me with the advice and knowledge necessary to start a website. That mentorship was so valuable to me – I knew exactly what I wanted to create, but I had no idea how to make it happen.
Chere Di Boscio (right)
In the time that your magazine has been around, how have you seen the sustainable fashion landscape change?
Chere: Oh, for sure! There are a lot more sustainable fashion brands emerging, and consumers are much more savvy about sustainability, It’s incredible, the knowledge they have – I often learn a lot just from the comments section in Eluxe online!
Sascha: We are focused on vegan fashion, and things in that area have just exploded since Vilda was launched. In the few years that we have been around, we’ve seen incredible change in the perception of vegan fashion: when we first launched, people had no idea what “vegan fashion” even meant. Now Hugo Boss is making pineapple leather shoes, H&M is using pineapple leather and orange silk in their Conscious Collection, Helsinki Fashion Week is leather-free, brands like Burberry, Gucci and Chanel no longer sell fur, and we even have a Vegan Fashion Week!
What have some of your biggest struggles been?
Chere: Well, now there is definitely more competition that when I started in 2013. Eluxe was basically the one and only sustainable luxury magazine out there – and actually, today I think Eluxe still is…but there are many more sustainable fashion blogs out there that we’re competing with, which is great, really, because it means there’s more interest in the area. The worst struggle for me right now is competing with mainstream media that publish articles like ours – a few have downright copied us! It’s hard to compete with them, especially when governments (like the Canadian government) are giving grants to legacy media to boost their views, which have fallen thanks to competition with independent media like us. It’s not really fair that mainstream outlets that are already owned by multi-million dollar publishing groups, get these government supplements, for one, and for another, it’s not really OK in my books that they’re publishing articles about sustainable fashion brands right beside pieces about, say, the best fur coats for 2019, or coverage of the latest Victoria’s Secret show!
Sascha: I’ll be brutally honest here. When you have literally nothing to invest, getting anything off the ground is really, really hard. Your competitors have savings to put into their projects. When I am out at events, I get lots of people telling me “wow, I’ve never heard of your magazine before!” and I smile and say, “well now you have!”, while I’m thinking, yeah, that’s because we’ve got no marketing budget. Creating something beautiful that very few people see can be really demoralising. As Chere was saying, bigger publications writing stories similar to ours and getting millions of views on them is beyond frustrating. I think that we’ve done incredibly well considering this major obstacle – when we are nominated for awards alongside big-name magazines with publishing houses behind them, it’s proof that we’ve created something meaningful.
Ethical fashion has had a great image overhaul in the last few years and has become the “cool” new thing. People no longer think it’s boring and joyless, but actually want to buy it. Do you agree? If so, where do you think it stems from?
Chere: I 100% agree! And this is happening for many reasons. There are loads of cool influencers out there like Noa from Style with a Smile, Kristen Leo, Daniela Christiansson and others that are making vegan and ethical fashion look cool. There are also some awesome ethical brands out there like Maggie Marilyn, Mother of Pearl, Farrah Floyd, Flor et al, Amur and many others that absolutely killing it when it comes to creating super stylish fashion that’s sustainable, too.
Sascha: We live in an age of mass information – it’s easier than ever to have access to knowledge. People are increasingly curious about where their clothing came from, how it was made and by whom. Also, in the years since we launched, many designers and brands have caught onto the fact that the style factor is and will always be the most important thing for consumers, so creating ethical fashion that just looks like fashion is key. People will buy clothes because of how they look. That is the truth! So it’s important to have designs that attract consumers for their look first, and their ethics second.
What do you think that you, as entrepreneurs, can do to inspire more people to make ethical choices?
Chere: Lead by example! I often wear vintage or sustainable clothing, and of course, I always aim to spread the word about incredible brands doing wonderful things. That’s the whole point of Eluxe! It’s also important to call out the greenwashers – some might call this ‘bashing’ press, but given that non-eco brands like Vivienne Westwood or Louis Vuitton have such huge marketing budgets and get sooooo much press for the teeny- tiniest eco-initiative they may roll out, well, it’s only fair to point out that those efforts are crap when compared to some actual sustainable brands that are 100% committed to ecological and ethical production.
Sascha: Offer tangible solutions. So often you will see activists out there waving their signs, talking about the issues, calling on everyone to “come together and make a change”….without any mention of HOW exactly that change is meant to go about. It’s important to talk about the solutions, not just the problems. We at Vilda always try to offer solutions when talking about issues in the fashion industry, so that readers feel empowered to be part of the change.
Who are some of your inspirations in the sustainable fashion industry?
Chere: There are so many! I’m always inspired by the incredible talents behind some brands: Amur, Thoreau, LaBante, Ferron and Flor et al are some of my favourites at the moment.
There are some really, really kind, intelligent women in this industry that inspire me – people like you, of course! But also Orsola de Castro of Fashion Revolution, Tamsin LeJeune of Common Objective and Caterina Occhio of SeeMe.org – all incredible women in the sustainable fashion space who are also willing to boost other women promoting the same ethics. The more on board, the better, right? I have a lot of time for these people and can’t say enough good things about them! They’re really working hard to make a difference. There are also a few nastier, more competitive women who see others in this space as a threat, but I won’t name them. 😉
Sascha: Having worked for PETA for several years, I am in awe of the force of nature that is Ingrid Newkirk. The founder of PETA and all international affiliates is the mastermind behind the iconic I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur campaign which sparked international debate about fur in fashion. As a public speaker, I’ve learned so much from seeing Ingrid speak. She is an unstoppable superhero for the animal rights movement!
In the fashion space I really admire Stella McCartney. She could have done absolutely anything with her life and career and it would have been a success. But she chose to become the first Fashion Week designer to not use any fur or leather, and create the first vegan It Bag – the Falabella – and is still a huge leader in the sustainability conversation.
I’ve actually met one of my heroes, Evelyn Mora, the founder of Helsinki Fashion Week, the first sustainable fashion week in the world. She started it at 23 years old and made it into a massive, ground-breaking, rule-defying event. They had their first leather-free season this year, and I was happy to attend.
Shortly I will be meeting another of my heroes, Amy Rebecca Wilde, an activist and entrepreneur who inspired me to go vegan back in 2012 with her @vegansofig Instagram account. She is the founder of Fur Free LA -the front-running campaign of making Los Angeles a fur-free city – as well as the owner of Vegan Scene and fashion brands Legends & Vibes and REBELIVES. She’s a force.
It’s likely that in a few years to come, all fashion magazines will be ethical fashion magazines – the current situation of the climate breakdown crisis and fashion’s impact on it dictates that we must change our consumer habits radically, and that change includes magazines. Until then, publications like Eluxe and Vilda are proud to lead the way.
For more on cruelty-free fashion, follow Vilda on Instagram
Header photo by Ewan Robertson via Unsplash
Top photo of Sascha Camilli by Sharron Goodyear. Second photo by David Camilli