Interview with Arden Rose: Part 1 in the Power of Influence series.
Sparked by the buzz around HRH Megan Markle choosing to shop amongst sustainable brands (yay), we found ourselves interested in learning more about the conscious and subconscious effect of social influencers and how that can shape our buying habits. Throughout 2019, we will be sharing our ‘Power of Influence’ series, talking to people within the fashion and social media realms about how they are using their platform for positive action. First up is Arden Rose.
I was recommended Arden’s youtube channel by Youtube itself (thanks algorithms). Finding a funny, interesting AND socially, environmentally conscious human who also creates entertaining content is pretty rare, right? Exactly. I was hooked right away, and with 1.4 million youtube subscribers and coming up to 900k followers on instagram, I wasn’t the only one. My first point of call was watching the fantastically titled ”how to NOT destroy the planet while shopping“. There were many questions I wanted to ask, much admiration I wanted to share. So…after a quick binge of other videos, and a swift click of the subscribe button, Arden became the first in this series of interviews. Her answers didn’t disappoint. Read on, read on…
To start, could you share your name and various media handles:
@ardenrose on everything!!
In a community of hauls, where buying in excess and presenting that image to the world is commonplace, you choose to do differently. We think that’s totally awesome and also pretty brave. Was it hard for you to step away from the established way of working and suggest a different way of doing things?
It was hard in the sense that hauls tend to do well on YouTube and they’re easy (i.e. unoriginal) content to make. Honestly, buying that much junk was tiring, it filled up my closet with trendy pieces I don’t want in a month, and it was boring to make. I’m so much happier to share clothing that I had to hunt or search for to make it sustainable and worth showing on my channel! Honestly, everyone should give themselves the challenge of not relying on constantly selling their audience on cheap slave labor. Definitely helps me sleep (slightly) better at night.
Your video ‘how to NOT destroy the planet while shopping’ is SO well informed and honest and great. You mention other youtubers who inspired your choices. Do you think more people on the platform need to be addressing these issues?
ABSOLUTELY. It shocks me that people can just turn a blind eye to the obvious pain they allow corporations to get away with or ignorantly support. Everyone should be promoting sustainable business practices, especially the women on the internet that tend to to push fast fashion as a “cheap” and “easy” alternative to a constantly refreshing industry like the fashion industry. Viewers should be educated, but at the very least the entertainers who are preaching to them should be educated.
Have you always been a conscious consumer or was there a moment when the switch flipped and you started to think more about the way you buy?
I touch on this briefly in my “how to NOT destroy the planet while shopping” video, but I used to make H&M and Forever21 hauls allllll the time. Constantly. My channel was filled with that shit. Fortunately I sat down and watched all the necessary documentaries and read all of the articles late last year and completely got my stupid self educated on the issue. Honestly, I always KNEW that fast fashion was bad business, but I was wilfully ignorant so that I didn’t have to give up my shopping addiction that felt baked into my personality.
Do you see an uptake in responsibility from your followers when you share content that focuses on sustainable issues? Do their responses show that they’re thinking differently about what they buy and how they buy?
Yes!! And that’s what’s so amazing to me! I don’t even have the largest audience but I get hundreds of comments about my sustainability video a week. I didn’t even think that many people saw it! Nowadays, consumers want to be in the know, and they want clear consciences. Having a friend on the internet (me!) sitting you down and calling you out on the way you’ve been spending your money is helpful and doesn’t feel accusatory! It feels like friendly advice which is important. A lot of people get turned off of the sustainability conversation because it sounds preachy. You need to be a friend to these people, not a holier than thou asshole. I like to think I’ve helped a lot of young women and men rethink their spending habits when it comes to fashion, but I also think it’s just the power of a younger generation that actually cares about others and the planet! They’re awesome and so fired up for change!
Do you think it is easy to find and share information about the sustainability of fashion brands and the effects of fast fashion on people and planet? Is there anything you can think of that would help make it easier to do so?
It is easy if you want to find it. It would be easier if large publications and fashion houses made it a priority to promote the message. It doesn’t benefit the industry to reveal its ugly underbelly, so they try to hide it, or dangle a carrot in your face via a “sustainable line” that only happens once in a blue moon. If there was a grassroots coalition of the top fashion bloggers and instagram baddies calling these companies out and only promoting sustainable brands, I can bet you big money things would shift in a major way.
Okay now for some quick ones…
- Current favourite piece in your closet?
A brown corduroy button down dress from Paloma Wool that I bought recently.
- Do you remember the first piece of clothing that you ever bought for yourself?
I would have NO idea and I find that sad. It was probably a tee-shirt from Target if I’m being honest.
- Do you still have it?
- Do you know who made the clothes you are currently wearing?
Yes! A small company in Denmark knitted my sweater, my tee shirt is of my own design and is produced sustainably in Canada, and my leggings are from an activewear company that produces everything in a mom and pop shop out of Italy. Wearing a very well traveled outfit right now hahaha.
- Top tip for others wishing to shop more responsibly?
Unless a brand *explicitly* advertises that it’s sustainable, be skeptical, and even if they do, remain skeptical. Educate yourself. We have the internet now and have 0 excuses to be ignorant! If you question the sustainability of a brand, do a quick google search before committing to the purchase. It’s true that sustainable fashion tends to be a bit pricier but just think about all the hands that it took to create the piece you’re holding and the people they belong to that are being paid well and treated with respect because you’re willing to treat your closet with respect. We don’t NEED an abundance of new clothes every season, we’ve been duped by an industry that only has money in mind. You don’t have to have the latest trend in your closet, you can re-wear clothes until they fall off your body, and anyone who judges you for your lifestyle is slow on the uptake.
Thanks, Arden 🙂
Check back every month for more in the Power of Influence series. We’ll post a new entry on the last day of each month throughout 2019. If you think there is someone we should be talking to, drop us a line on instagram.
We host Fashion Revolution Week in April of every year. This year kicks off on the 22nd of April. Throughout the week we encourage people to ask brands ‘who made my clothes’ in hopes of shining a light on the unknowns of the fashion industry. By doing this, we hope to shift the focus from consumers to brands, and to all the hands involved, be it producers, workers, farmers or otherwise. We track the reach and impact of collaborators throughout Fashion Revolution Week and use the findings to fight for change worldwide, through government and policy. We would hugely appreciate it if you would be willing to share a story or celebrate a brand you love or simply ask #whomademyclothes during Fashion Revolution Week in 2019.