Gloria Jane Royer Interview: Sustainable Superwomen Series
For the very first entry of the Sustainable Superwomen Series, we talk to sustainable fashion designer Gloria Jane Royer about waste free fashion and what it really means to be a conscious creative today.
Tell us about your relationship with fashion
My relationship with fashion has always been complicated. I sometimes go round in circles with how I feel towards the industry. I have always been conscious and aware of fast fashion and the impact fashion has on the environment, so through awareness and better understanding I feel as though I can still love the industry and be a part of it, but instead try and transform it in my own way influencing others. However, there has been and are undoubtedly times when I feel ashamed to be associated with a wasteful, polluting industry but this usually motivates me more to create and be heard.
What first sparked your interest in sustainability?
When I was younger, around 15 years old I started selling vintage clothing I collected in charity shops. This escalated into building a vintage brand with a handmade recycled range and by the time I was 17/18 I was running a successful business from old clothing and upcycled unique pieces. I had always worn second hand/vintage as my parents mindfulness for the environment was ingrained in me from a young age, so why not transform this into a business. For me this was the start and sparked my interest, but vintage wasn't enough for me so I took my sewing skills into fashion/textiles design and have been building myself as a designer for the past year. I work with unusual waste material ranging from old sailing gear (wetsuits, sails, rash vests etc) to emergency foil blankets and deadstock wedding dresses.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about sustainable fashion?
Sustainable is a big and scary word involving lots of different pathways and elements - I feel it is important to focus on one or two elements of sustainability and really research and push it as far as you can, for example designing for emotional durability - creating things or selling things someone will love and keep forever as they simply love it that much!! In this way, as designers together we are making a huge difference!
What's the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The people you meet along the way are the most useful, inspiring and important people in your life! Your friends and contacts are so crucial to finding your way and being successful!
What sustainable trends have you seen coming through?
In my opinion there are only a few designers doing sustainability successfully right now. There are a few smaller brands taking random old things and making really interesting fashion from them, such as old beer mats made into vests and bags (Adam Jones), or old football scarves transformed into two pieces (Lois Saunders)! It's really fun and fresh and inspiring, so finding old things that have character and making things I think is definitely a trend coming through. I have also seen a rise in promoting up-cycling and using scraps for collections, love this!
What do you think is currently missing in the world of sustainable fashion?
What is missing for me is the attitude and mindset of the consumer. The people wearing the clothes! I do believe a lot of people are unaware of the issues within the industry and perhaps others are ignorant. At the end of the day there are a lot of designers doing things in the right way and making a difference, but we need customers and consumers to want to engage with our practice as so we can sustain our brands and business promoting it to a wider community thus raising awareness! It is a closed loop circle but we need people to engage and follow this new movement.
Where do you see the future of fashion going?
The past year has already seen a dramatic change. Only a few years ago the word sustainability did not even exist in the fashion industry so we are definitely heading in a good direction. I see a transformation within the next 5 years of more brands bringing elements of sustainability into their brand and creating roles within the brand fully focused around sustainable design. I hope the fashion education system hops on and starts to educate young emerging designers to work in this new way, that would be really refreshing to see. I am studying at Chelsea College of Arts, graduating this Summer, and luckily they have been very supportive with my work using all waste material but I know often students are encouraged to buy fabric for their collections.
What tips do you have for someone looking to shop sustainably?
Be prepared to spend more than you perhaps usually would, but for a really GOOD garment! Recycling things takes a lot of time and energy, whilst reusing things takes time in sourcing and recreating. Sustainability also involved high quality to ensure the piece is not thrown away. You are investing in something others have already invested a lot in!
Tell us the story behind your favourite item of clothing
I saved my money for a long time and when I turned 21 I bought a Molly Goddard dress!! She's a huge inspiration to me I love her designs, so I invested in an amazing red number. Although I would never normally spend so much on an item and can't afford to, I love it and I will never throw it away, it is my special dress for special occasions and I feel amazing when I wear it! The feelings women have when they try on clothes is where I find inspiration for my own designs, playing on avenues of femininity. I think buying in this way, considering the lifespan of the garment you buy is a solution to the fast fashion crisis!