Sheree Commerford and Sam Elsom are a creative force to be reckoned with. Both are well-known names in the fashion industry, having forged separate careers through design, branding, styling and creative direction. Now avid storytellers through their online journal, Captain And The Gypsy Kid, Sam and Sheree are resolute that we all need to be responsible for our planet. Here, we talk to Sheree about her dream for a better world.
Photography by Sheree and Sam of Captain And The Gypsy Kid.
You are a firm believer in creating a better world, how do you think fashion plays a role in this?
"Never has there been a more exciting time for [the fashion industry and consumers] to do what’s right. I say exciting because the potential of building a business or product in this time could change the face of the industry and the culture of how we value clothing and the makers; our relationship with what we say, by what we wear, by who we support, has never been more powerful. The opportunity to reinvent this industry into a purposeful powerhouse is right at our fingertips. The question is will we take it?"
What inspired your passion for sustainability?
"It has been an ongoing reckoning and a personal pursuit of which I am continuously trying to better, and to be frank, I am miles away from where I need to be. Like the fashion industry, I have to really roll up my sleeves (pardon the pun) and get cracking as time is of the essence. It has been an accumulation of experience, awareness and education that has driven my passion for change in the industry that I love so much.
From entering the industry in my late teens to study as a fashion designer, working with suppliers, artisans, makers and spending time on factory floors all over the world, I am deeply troubled that I may have contributed unknowingly or ignorantly to the disadvantage of others and our precious planet. Along the way I met a man who I would later father two glorious humans to, who introduced me to the world of sustainable fashion through his label, which at the time (some 15 years ago) was one, if not the first Australian brand to adopt environmental practices."
You have a very distinguishable style: how do you approach dressing?
"I have a theory that spending too much time in front of the mirror is neither good for your style or your soul so for me, my most authentic ensembles come from lack of planning and no time. Challenges seem to breed more interesting outcomes for me. I instinctually dress in a code of contrasts. Old and new. Masculine and feminine, a little messy, a little neat and I have an inbuilt authenticity radar, which activates if I attempt to wear something that isn’t truly me. Also, I am a mad theme dresser when it comes to locations. FUN."
And how do you go about styling your family?
"With [my husband] Sam, I wouldn’t dare interfere unless asked to comment. He has always had a very unique and personal style, it is one of the things I love about him. When I first met him he was wearing a turban and no shoes. The kids are just part of the same program, they have grown up wearing mostly vintage so it’s normal for them to embrace second hand clothing and to appreciate the history of where it’s from and how it’s made. They are at the age of wanting to blend in so at times I battle with that but in the end they are kids discovering their own style story and what they want to say with what they wear. At times I’ve got to just respect that."
What were your favourite pieces from the shoot?
"I loved both the jeans Sam and I wore. Sam always looks great in denim and they were a great fit. A great classic straight leg that you can mould to your own style...
The fact that they are made from recycled fibres really made them a big winner."
Did [your children] Sugar and Captain have any favourites?
"Sugar is obsessed with the black denim skirt and the boys’ checked flannel shirt, which I love that both kids can wear so we can get a double life out of that one. Captain really only likes to wear board shorts and jeans, but man oh man he looked beautiful in that colour blue don’t you think? I loved those shorts and shirt on him. So soft and easy. I also love that they are all made with cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative."