REFASH: Was there a significant moment that inspired you to start your blog‚ Green Looks Great'?
Mary: Yes, that moment was definitely watching "The True Cost“ movie in 2016. I had been quite a shopping addict but that same evening I decided: No matter what, I want to change my shopping behaviour! On the one hand, I worried that my love for fashionable clothes cannot be fulfilled with eco-fair fashion. On the other hand, I wanted to prove myself that style and sustainability can go hand in hand. So I started to research intensively and was positively surprised how many sustainable yet trendy fashion labels exist. A few months later I launched "Green Looks Great" on which I share my growing knowledge about the many great-looking ethical alternatives to fast fashion.
R: How important do you think it is for more people to rethink their consumption choices rather than just follow a trend?
M: This is so important. First, we have to rethink how much stuff we really need to be happy. For sure it’s much less than we think. Our aim should be to reduce overall consumption in order to stop using up more natural resources than our planet can regenerate. Second, we need to rethink who we buy from. Because we vote with our wallet with every purchase we make. By going for products from social and environment-friendly production, we contribute little by little to a change in the way companies behave.
"If we act united, our purses are a super power!"
R: Your take on the movement of sustainability in Berlin?
M: Berlin is definitely the centre of the German sustainability movement: from dedicated organisations and initiatives, to organic supermarkets and vegan restaurants to manufacturers of sustainable products. With regards to fashion, Berlin is home to lots of young designers for ethical fashion and has an impressive number of fair fashion retail stores. If you want to find out more, I recommend you to check out the Green Fashion Tours in Berlin. The city also has the biggest community of bloggers and influencers in Germany, who use their voice to address varied topics on sustainability and ethical business. And of course not to forget Neonyt, the global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, which takes place in Berlin twice a year. I have attended the three-days fair several times and always got home full of new input, knowledge and inspiration. Even though we are still just at the beginning, lots of positive things are happening in the fashion industry right now – not only in Berlin or Germany, but at many places around the world.
(Photo Credit- Lydia Hersberger)
R: What is your vision with Green Looks Great‘?
M: I started ‚green looks great’ with the idea to present chic and elegant looks with fair and sustainably made clothing. With that I want people to see that eco fashion is fashionable and cool now. I want to show that we don’t need fast fashion, because there are so many beautiful ethical alternatives out there – even for ladies who don’t want to compromise on style. The longer I'm part of the green community, the more I want to get my consumption to a minimum. And that will be more and more reflected on my blog.
R: Which brands / designers do you think are at the forefront of the movement of sustainability in fashion?
M: On an international scale there are two brands that immediately come to my mind because they achieved a lot in creating a positive image for ethical fashion: Stella McCartney and Reformation. In Germany there are well-established eco fashion brands like Hessnatur and Lana that were pioneers in sustainability already thirty years ago. Lanius is a label that stands for fair and organic slow fashion since 20 years now, combining ecological materials with fair working conditions, feminine silhouettes and a perfect fit. Armedangels established itself over the last 10 years as fashionable and affordable and has become one of the most known fair fashion brands, even outside of the green community.
R: Tell us your 2 favourite upcycling brands and why?
M: I admire upcycling designers in general because they give a second life to the materials otherwise wasted. Most of them bring in lots of creativity to design beautiful new things, like my favourite upcycling jewelry label Fremdformat from Heidelberg. For their jewelry they use brass, copper and stainless steel, which are the remains of the metalworking industry in Germany. Remainders, blends, stamping remnants - whole collections are created from different types of waste. Absolutely beautiful!
A really cool upcycling brand that puts in a lot of innovative thinking is the fashion label, ECOALF. The company cleans the oceans before Spain and Thailand from plastic waste and upcycles plastic bottles or discarded fishing nets into yarn for jackets, sneakers and accessories. Other recycled materials that Ecoalf works with are used car tires for flip flops as well as recycled wool and recycled cotton for t-shirts, dresses, sweatshirts and pants. I like that besides the sustainability aspect, fashionable and cool design plays a big role for their collections.
R: Do you have a vintage piece in your wardrobe that you have mended to make it last for a longer time?
M: Yes, it’s a beautiful leopard print maxi skirt, which was my first vintage purchase ever back in 2017. It wasn’t perfect, but I immediately fell in love with it and bought it anyway. I had to get it to the tailor to put in a new zipper at the back and to shorten the inner lining. It cost me a bit, but it was absolutely worth it: Now the skirt is one of my wardrobe highlights and I consider myself very lucky to have found it. Up on my blog is a whole article about how this skirt triggered my fashion resolution for 2018.
R: As you think sustainability and style go well together, can you share 3 quick tips that people can incorporate in their day to day life to style consciously.
M: Yes, sure... I love that question!
(Vintage maxi skirt on Mary)
"Tip #1: Get creative and fall in love again with your own clothes."
The most sustainable kind of fashion consumption is to wear our existing clothing as long as possible.
Often I rediscover clothes in my wardrobe that I hadn’t worn for quite a while. Then I try to combine them differently and am surprised how good that new styling combination looks. It often feels like a completely new piece then.
Tip #2: Combine ethical fashion basics with vintage key pieces.
Investing in eco-fair, high-quality fashion basics will pay off with the many wears that you will get out of them. To add that fashionable twist to your style I recommend to look for key pieces in vintage stores. That can be a plaid pattern coat, a colourful necklace or red velvet boots. That way, you won’t use up new resources but can still create an unique style.
Tip #3: Only buy what makes you feel great
Never-worn clothes are usually those that don’t fit our personality, body type or colour scheme. Hence, I suggest you ask yourself before every purchase: “Are the colour and the cut flattering?“, "Do I feel comfortable in the piece all around so that I would love to keep it on right away?“ and "Will it still meet my fashion taste in several years?“ In the end it’s not about chasing trend after trend, but rather about finding your own style and embracing it.
R: How will you describe your journey (towards sustainability) in 5 words or less.
M: Start asking. Never stop asking.
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(Photo Credits for the cover photo: Renata ZP)