Journalists, influencers, and tastemakers alike gathered at Hudson Yards hotspot Queensyard for a roundtable discussion on waste reduction in the fashion and design industries.
Lifestyle journalist Juliet Izon moderated the panel with BET editor Danielle Prescod, writer, and influencer Jo Rosenthal, Warp + Weft founder and DL1961 Creative Director Sarah Ahmed, and hospitality designer Kellie Sirna, co-founder of the Dallas-based Studio 11 Design. The passionate discussion covered everything from sustainability efforts in their respective fields to what being environmentally-aware actually means.
“How do you make the everyday conscious?” Ahmed asked, in reference to what her fashion brands grapple with daily.
Rosenthal stressed mindful shopping, whether from upscale brands innovating new eco-friendly techniques like silk made from rose petals, or opting instead to shop vintage. “I think that if you’re a brand, you need to listen and completely be a leader in wanting to help people make a change,” Rosenthal said. She offered that she was, in fact, wearing her grandfather’s tie from the 1960s and that its quality of silk had made it last this long.
However, Ahmed observed the size limitations of secondhand clothing stores and suggested rental services like Rent the Runway instead to reuse and share garments. As the founder of denim brand Warp + Weft, Ahmed shared how to curb water waste during production, and emphasized working with companies such as Stitchfix to use analytics to sell directly to the consumer. “We use data to create products that are going to resonate [with customers] so the data inherently makes the product sustainable because of a high success rate,” Ahmed explained. “Sustainability is a game of numbers.”
Fashion editor Prescod also pointed out the wasteful trend of influencers trying to be photographed in new outfits for each post. This cycle of accumulating products only to then throw them away increases the burn rate of an outfit’s lifespan. “I’m hoping that the fashion industry stops making people feel bad so we can just consume better and consume smarter,” Prescod said. “Little by little makes a difference. It takes work and you have to work at it but sustainability is a long game.”
Sirna echoed the need to educate consumers and hold manufacturers accountable, especially in the hotel and hospitality industry. Sirna’s Studio 11 Design reuses product samples and even donates carpet squares to local animal shelters to benefit adoptable dogs. “Probably in the last two years I’ve seen more effort in our industry than ever,” Sirna said, citing Radisson Hotels’ switch to limiting single-use plastic bottles in hotel rooms. This simple omission is reported to save 57 million bottles by 2022.
” ‘You can’t save the world’ is the worst excuse,” Sirna continued. “If you take off little bites of something and do it slowly and in an organic way, I think that’s really important. We all just have to get a little bit scrappier.”
Guests overlooked the sun-struck Vessel while sipping bellinis and nibbling on avocado toast and fried cauliflower complemented by a Sriracha mayo dipping sauce. The modern British fare at Queensyard, coupled with its upscale mix of vintage design, provided the perfect ambiance for the fashion-forward discussion.
As the roundtable on conscious consumption came to an end, Ahmed summed up the takeaway message: “We have the power of choice, and we should choose things that align with our goals.”
This spring, as Earth Day approaches, it seems time to make a conscious change, and step by step practice a sustainable lifestyle.