The following blog post is part of the 1 Million Women WEAR Interview series – we are asking questions on fashion + sustainability + style to Australian and international designers, models, vintage sellers, up-cyclers, recyclers, shop owners, fashion entrepreneurs and forward thinkers to gauge what is happening around sustainable fashion in Australia and the world.
1MW interviews Jessica Piercy from Ela Hawke Vintage
1. What is the story behind Ela Hawke Vintage?
After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and going on to work within the retail industry as well as working on many styling projects, I was trying to figure out a way to fuse my skills in to the one area. I had always loved vintage clothing and owned a small but select collection of beautiful, old pieces and treasured finds. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to work with an extensive range of vintage clothing and only then did I realise the potential of starting a business that I would be passionate about. I did a little research, came up with a plan, put my design and styling skills to work and so began the journey of Ela Hawke Vintage.
2. You have a love for sustainability, and try to lead a very natural lifestyle. What kind of things does this mean you do in your everyday life?
If I had a dollar for how many times I turn the power off at the switch I’d be a millionaire! It’s a really good habit I’ve gotten myself into. Whenever I use an appliance I make sure that when I’m done I turn it off at the switch. It really does save a lot of power not to mention money off your electricity bill and you actually feel like your contributing and helping to save energy.
I’m also an avid recycler. It’s amazing how many day-to-day objects we use in our life that can be recycled or re-used that we just don’t realise. I always make sure to check the label on any packaging for the recycling logo. I was previously throwing out so many empty containers that I didn’t realise could be recycled. Now I’m constantly checking and surprised at some of the things than can be recycled.
Doing a load of washing to me always means using cold water and drying my clothes on the clothesline. It’s incredible how much energy a dryer uses and how much you can save just by hanging your clothes out to dry. Not to mention how much better it is for your clothes.
I’m also very conscious of what I eat and try to only eat un-processed, organic, natural foods, which includes a lot of fruit and leafy vegetables, plenty of lentils and beans, white meat but minimal red meat. Cutting back on red meat can help to lessen the impact that the meat industry has on the environment. Rearing livestock contributes to a high level of methane emissions, water pollution, soil degradation and land consumption, which is not sustainable in any way. There are plenty of other natural foods that contain just as much iron and protein that we can eat instead of red meat, it’s just a matter of doing a bit of research and seeing what works best for you.
3. Did this lifestyle influence you to start Ela Hawke Vintage?
I think Ela Hawke Vintage actually influenced me to lead this kind of lifestyle. I was recycling, reusing and even up-cycling such a large volume of clothing for the business every week it only made sense to focus my time on everyday tasks as well by trying to conserve more energy, eat better and recycle more.
4. How has the business grown since you started, and have you noticed a change in the fashion world since then?
The business had grown tremendously! I now have such a large and loyal following of vintage lovers and women who really love the style of clothing and collections I put together. I think vintage clothing has really grown and become more and more popular in the last 12 months. Women are realising the quality and craftsmanship of original, beautiful pieces of clothing that have lasted the test of time. There’s definitely been an increase in the popularity of vintage clothing and I think women enjoy owning a piece of history and something that is unique to add to their current wardrobe.
5. Why is the buying of vintage products important for a sustainable fashion model?
It is so important! Giving vintage clothing a new lease on life means that we are not contributing to the production of new clothing, which leaves such a huge environmental footprint. The manufacturing of new products uses so much energy, wastes so much water and causes a lot of unnecessary pollution, not to mention the amount of wasted fabrics and materials in the production process. Buying vintage is a great way to support sustainable fashion as you are recycling, reusing and saving those products from going to landfill and damaging the environment.
6. What are your selection requirements for picking the vintage items you sell? Do you follow what’s in fashion, what’s good quality, a monthly theme?
I’m very conscious of what styles, shapes, colours and prints are trending at the time when I’m sourcing and picking for a new collection. So much of what we see in fashion today is inspired by fashion from years ago so most of the time that can make it a really interesting and exciting process when sourcing new stock. I love being able to offer women clothing that is not only environmentally friendly but also completely on trend and much more affordable than buying new. Ultimately I choose pieces that I love and I think that my customers will love; pieces that are fun, a little bit feminine, loud or a little bit different. I have a range of customers with a range of tastes so I enjoy catering to them all by offering vintage clothing that you just won’t see anywhere else.
7. How do you think we can ensure that buying vintage, recycled and remade clothing becomes integral to fashion and consumer behaviour?
I think we need to become more educated and aware of the process and production of new clothing. So much of what we see and buy goes through an incredibly long process from start to finish, which contributes negatively towards the environment. I don’t think we realise how much of a difference we can make just by recycling clothing and products. But with the popularity of vintage clothing only increasing I feel certain that people are becoming more aware of sustainable fashion and how important it is and how we can make a difference.
8. From your own wardrobe, do you have a favourite Vintage piece of clothing?
My favourite piece of vintage clothing in my wardrobe would have to be a beautiful 60s cotton caftan-style dress that I purchased about a year ago. The colours are incredibly bright and I especially love the long bell sleeves and the crochet trimming. I can’t go past a beautiful long 60s or 70s dress.
9. Finally, if you have one personal tip on fashion or style to share with us, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with clothing! Know what styles and shapes look good on you and always exude confidence.
Thanks a million Jessica for sharing with 1MW about Ela Hawke Vintage.
Ela Hawke Vintage is a tightly edited collection of on-trend vintage finds, with a unique, hand-selected range of top quality vintage clothing and accessories.
Visit the website – www.elahawkevintage.com/