Next up for PALA Meets is a chat with ethical fashion activist and speaker Benita Robledo, who also blogs at www.compassionfashionblog.com. She aims to demystify the complex world of sustainable fashion and empower her readers so that they can create a more compassionate closet (and lifestyle) for themselves. And she’s recently announced a very exciting collaboration that we were keen to hear more about… get to know Benita below.
Benita, it’s a pleasure to meet you, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Your blog, Compassion Fashion, just celebrated its first birthday – many congratulations! What have you learned in your first year of writing about ethical and sustainable fashion?
Oh boy. I’ve learned so much! I think the biggest takeaways are 1: We can’t let perfect be the enemy of good. The fashion industry is a complex beast and if we as consumers look for a perfect product we’re going to tear apart the brands trying to do good, turn-off prospective ethical fashionistas because they think there’s no way they can ever measure up, and drive ourselves crazy. 2: We need to consume less, period. This last year of research has turned me into a second-hand clothing devotee. I now shop 80% second-hand and 20% new. 3. The ethical fashion world needs to do better when it comes to representation. Ethical fashion cannot go from niche to norm unless everyone is included in the conversation no matter race, economic power, or clothing size.
Why do you think ethical fashion matters? How can we change the world simply through our clothing choices?
Because fashion touches every single part of our lives. Other than food, what else do actively choose every day? Which is great because fashion touches so many different issues. Contained within fashion you have issues relating to feminism, slavery, water conservation, land management, global trade agreements, greenhouse emissions. The list goes on and on. Ethical fashion is cutting-edge technology and ancient traditions. Make even the smallest ethical changes in even just a few of those areas and you’re creating a massive shift
As a consumer, making more ethical fashion choices can seem overwhelming. With options ranging from organic, local, recycled, upcycled and even to vegan – where do we start?
Use what you have as long as you can. Get to know your local tailor, learn how to mend a small rip. And when you do need to shop try buying second-hand first. It takes a lot of guess work out of shopping ethically.
Can you share some insider secrets and tell us which brands you’re most excited about right now?
Pala Eyewear of course! I also love Neo Threads if you’re into funky one-of-a-kind pieces. Maven Women is great for the businesswoman. And Mayamiko has amazing prints!
And finally, what’s next for you and the Compassion Fashion blog?
This year I’m going to be delving deeper into my own fashion projects and sharing them on the blog as well as creating my one off posts. I’m co-designing a collection with designer Jeiyline Santana through 19th Amendment, which I’m over the moon excited about! I’ve wanted to design my own line since I was a kid so this is a dream come true. I also have another collaboration coming up, that I can’t quite talk about yet. I’m excited to jump into the fashion world as a creator and share with my audience what it’s like to practice what I preach. It’s very easy as a consumer to demand certain things from brands and I’m already learning how much more effort it takes to create something intentionally. I think my readers will enjoy this front-line perspective.
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Felicia is our ‘camera ninja’ when it comes to photography for the Pala website. Hailing from Sweden, but now based close to the Pala Brighton HQ. When she’s not exercising her skills of mind control to makes models relax on shoot you’ll find her gleefully tucking into a tin Surströmming… or maybe not.
Emma is our marketing guru. When Emma isn’t planning, strategizing and creating content, she can be found travelling the world exploring its wonders, or in more recent times – headphones on with a paintbrush in her hand creating an abstract masterpiece!
Mary is the team leader of the Care4basket project in Bolgatanga, Ghana. When Mary is not organising and supporting the work across the communities, you will find her sowing sweet potatoes, ground nut, millet and looking after the animals on the farm.
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Justin is our ‘Film Alchemist’. When he’s not laying on the floor looking for the next shot he’s either exploring the finest bourbons and listening to obscure country music tracks from the 50s and 60s. Normally found planning his next trip abroad or fuelling the pineapple on pizza debate. Just so you know he’s firmly in the Hawaiian camp!