In my latest Inspiration Interview, I’ve had the pleasure of catching up with Roberta Lee, the Sustainable Fashion Stylist and Founder of the Ethical Brand Directory. Roberta and I have been working in London’s ethical fashion space for a good while now, so it was only a matter of time before we properly met!
Roberta – or Roberta Style Lee, as she’s known – first met last summer, and since then, we’ve gone on to champion each other’s small businesses as partners. Her expertise in how to style yourself more sustainable is second to none, and she knows how to revive a wardrobe through techniques such as colour-matching, shape analysis, and restyling, rather than simply running around a department store with a credit card (not so sustainable).
Here, we discuss Roberta’s origin story – what sparked her interest in sustainable fashion in the first place – as well as her tips for creating a meaningful relationship with our clothes. Plus, make sure you don’t miss Ethical Brand Directory’s second birthday party!
1. What sparked your interest in sustainable fashion?
It was way back at the start of my journey transitioning out of my corporate marketing job, and setting up Roberta Style Lee. I was starting a new business, so hanging out with lots of new entrepreneurs, a few of which happened to be ethical fashion founders. I began discovering so many things about the fashion industry that I didn’t know about before.
After becoming aware of the damaging impact the fashion industry has on the environment, workers and animals, I knew I had to seek out a different way of doing things, so I focused on being a ‘sustainable stylist’ and only working with brands that weren’t compromising on aesthetics to be ethical.
2. As a stylist, do you find it difficult to guide your clients into a more meaningful relationship with their wardrobe?
I think some people are more open to it than others, my job is to help them see a better outcome for themselves, which coincidentally has a positive impact.
The one thing that remains the same is that all women want to look good, feel confident in what they wear and feel proud of their personal style.
I think it’s OK to follow trends for inspiration – usually most women I work with already have all the key pieces they’ll ever need from previous seasons. Trends are always on repeat. I encourage my clients to utilise more of what they already have, helping my them find their signature style means they don’t need to worry about following trends.
3. Where are your favourite places to source ethical and sustainable clothing?
There’s really only one place I look for items if I’m buying new and that’s Ethical Brand Directory.
I explore pre-loved boutiques like Mary’s Living & Giving in Islington as well. I used to (in my twenties when I was an East London gal) wear loads of vintage, London is great for vintage shopping and you feel really unique in your pieces. It’s so good for shopping vintage, I created a London Vintage store map on Ethical Brand Directory.
I’ve also explored Wear The Walk for rentals for my clients, I truly believe rentals is the next big thing.
4. What’s one thing we can all do to style ourselves more sustainably?
Ask yourself if anything you are thinking of buying (or receiving as a gift) will get #100wears – if it won’t be worn 100 times, it’s not a contender for being a truly sustainable piece in your wardrobe. Think about borrowing or renting instead.
5. Finally, do you have anything exciting coming up soon that you can share with us?
Oh yes, in fact I do. I’ve mentioned Ethical Brand Directory a few times, it’s been a huge part of my life these past 3 years, developing it and then going live and growing the team. We have an exciting milestone coming up… we turn 2 years old and we’re launching our new website. Come along to our 2nd Birthday Party – there’s going to be drinks and cake!
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