Podcast Ep 11 CONSCIOUS CHATTER'S KESTREL JENKINS, CURIOSITY COUNTS
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The ethical fashion movement is gathering momentum! Not so long ago sustainable, ethical, eco-fashion (whatever you want to call it) was too easily dismissed as some way-out, niche concern. Something kooky, and very possibly hairy and hemp-y, that belonged on the lunatic fringe. Well, NO LONGER. Obvs.
Today sustainability is a BUZZ WORD. Everyone wants a piece of the activism action. We're in the middle of a Fashion Revolution, where the coolest, smartest most creative fashion fans are starting to ask more questions about who made their clothes, where, how and from what.
Fabulous fashion podcaster Kestrel Jenkins is a pioneer in this space. She's been asking these questions since she was in college (she studied global studies and INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISM), became fascinated by fair trade, then went to intern at People Tree in London. Back in the her native USA she spent time in New York working for Ecouterre.
In 2016, she launched Conscious Chatter, "a podcast where what we wear matters".
Since then she's produced over 75 shows, telling stories about textiles, design, supply chains and the social and eco impacts of fashion, both fast and slow. She's interviewed everyone from True Cost filmmaker Andrew Morgan to some of the serious boss people at Patagonia (and Clare Press!).
Oh, and she's delightul.
“I always have wanted to learn the stories behind things,” says Kestrel. Her favourite word? "Curious."
In this Episode we discuss the POWER OF THE PODCAST as a medium, who we think is listening and why, and how we keep them tuned in.
We share our perspectives on ETHICAL and sustainable fashion, discuss how the conversation has changed since we both first joined it, and where we see it heading.
"For all you changemakers out there" (that's a Kestrel catchphrase), it’s really a treat to hear how Kestrel built her world, and what makes her tick.
WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT...
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade based on a partnership between producers and traders, businesses and consumers. The International Fairtrade system - made up of Fairtrade International and its member organisations - represents the world's largest and most recognized fair trade system.
Kestrel interned at PEOPLE TREE, one of the best known fair trade fashion companies. Founded by Safia Minney in Japan in 1991, and now based in London, they use fashion as a force for good, by partnering with fair trade producers, garment workers, artisans and farmers in the developing world to produce ethical and eco fashion collections.
ORSOLA DE CASTRO is one of the co-founders of Fashion Revolution. She launched her much loved (and much missed) upcycled label From Somewhere in Italy in the 90s, after crocheting around the holes in an old cardigan. From Somewhere eventually moved HQ to London, where Orsola collaborated with the likes of Speedo and Jigsaw on sustainable fashion collections using pre-consumer waste, and was key to the launch Esthetica space at London Fashion Week.
While neither of us is keen on today's rampant consumerist culture, we're both worried about the FUTURE OF THE SHOPS. It seems like every week there's news of new retail closures. Most recently in Australia, SurfStitch has gone into receivership, while in May Topshop Australia (part owned by Myer) called in the administrators (a deal has just been done to UK-based Arcadia, which owns Topshop UK, to run a slimmed down version of the business here). Everyone EVERYWHERE is FREAKING OUT about AMAZON. A recent Time magazine story cited the a major factor in the decline of a bunch of bricks and mortar retailers in the US: "After years of struggling to compete with all-powerful Amazon, retailers have been closing hundreds of stores amid declining sales. Analysts are even predicting that one-quarter of America's malls could close within the next five years." Gloomier projections reckon half will eventually close. America is certainly "over-malled". But what will be do with all this space? How can we shape a future for smaller-scale sustainably-minded fashion retail on our high streets? Or is the future of shopping all online?
What is the Iditerod anyway?
If, like me, you were on the back foot when Kestrel described the childhood make-believe game she and brothers used to play... "The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome. Mail and supplies went in. Gold came out. All via dog sled. Heroes were made, legends were born. In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Diphtheria threatened and serum had to be brought in; again by intrepid dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs. Throughout the years, the sled dogs were important to day to day life in the villages and throughout Alaska. All of these examples and more are a part of Alaska’s history." Mug up here.
LEFT EDIT IS EVOLVING...
Since we recorded this podcast, Left Edit has taken a left turn... After gaining headway into creating a sustainable brand, Kestrel and her co-founder Holly Olsen saw an opportunity in the void of collaboration within the fashion industry. "Left Edit wants to bridge the gap with other brands that are competing against fast fashion and big box retails by providing co-branded products that are aesthetically driven, sustainably focused, and only available at LeftEdit.com," they explain. "Left Edit's platform will provide a singular hub for consumers looking to shop sustainably without compromising style. The featured collaborations will showcase leading products from select up-and-coming brands" - tried and tested by Kestrel and Holly themselves.
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Until next time,