Author. Journalist. Global ambassador. Sustainability Editor-At-Large for Vogue Australia. These are simply a few of the many titles Clare Press has held throughout her career over the last two decades. Famed for her passionate advocacy for sustainability, Clare is at the forefront of the circular fashion movement, which is exactly why we asked her to host the launch of our sustainably designed Chadstone flagship. Here, we talk with Clare about the future of fashion and how it can be a force for good.
Photography by Will Braden.
What do you look for when buying clothes?
“Natural fibres are the first thing. I like my clothes to breathe. I love linen, organic cotton, silk and wool. Because of my work, I think very carefully about what I buy, and if I am going to get good wear out of it. I’m on a mission to fight fashion waste. Globally, we’ve about doubled clothing production in 15 years, and too many clothes end up in landfill. I keep mine for years - they become good friends.”
You have been one of the pioneers in spotlighting the issue of sustainability in the fashion industry. What led you on the journey of bringing together fashion and ethics?
“Thank you! I’ve been a fashion journalist for 20 years. I now focus purely on sustainable fashion, write books and speak around the world on this topic. I’m interested in how fashion is connected to politics, society and the environment, and what we can do to make those connections positive.”
Was there a particular light bulb moment that you can remember?
“After the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster in Bangladesh I joined the Fashion Revolution campaign. On the planet side, I’ve always been a greenie. Much of my work is focused on how we can act together to protect the natural world. There is plenty we can do to innovate and spread awareness. I love how fashion has the power to reach so many people.”
What was it that drew you to work with Country Road on our Chadstone project? Was there one standout concept that you found particularly exciting?
“I’ve been following Country Road Group’s Good Business Journey for several years now. Seeing how hard the sustainability team works behind the scenes is inspiring. This project in particular opens up a whole new world to me: that of sustainability and the built environment. I can’t wait to learn more about green buildings and the Green Star rating system. It’s brilliant that Country Road is leading this new approach for retail spaces.”
One of the most interesting concepts that has arrived in the more recent years is that of circularity, which is something you have talked to often. Is this where you believe the future of fashion lies?
“I do. I’m an ambassador for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative. The big idea is to move from a linear system - take, make, dispose - to a circular, regenerative one, whereby we keep clothes in use for longer, use recycled and recyclable fibres and generally keep our precious resources in the loop.”
What do you think the next big thing is in the sustainable fashion realm?
“Materials. While polyester and cotton remain the most popular fibres, new textiles are being developed all the time. Have you heard about the leather alternatives being made from pineapples and apples? Or ‘spider silk’ that mimics the proteins in spider webs? In London, I met a scientist who’s figured out how to dye textiles using bacteria. But these innovations are still niche. For me, most exciting right now are the circular, regenerated fabrics that can be rolled out at scale. The jeans I’m wearing in these pictures use recycled cotton made from post-consumer textile waste. How awesome is that?”
What would you like seeing brands doing more of?
“Talk more without worrying about being perfect. Sustainability is complicated and doesn’t just happen overnight - there are so many factors involved, and it’s rarely black and white. As customers, we love to know the stories behind the things we buy, and find out about materials and innovations. We need deeper conversation around all this.”
You’re a very accomplished writer, and you’re in the midst of writing your fourth book - congratulations! What inspired the idea for this one?
“It’s about the future of fashion. I’m researching new modes of making, accessing and engaging with clothes. There’s amazing stuff happening, for example, with A.I. - it’s blowing my mind!”
You have interviewed many interesting people throughout your career, has there been anything standout you have learnt from one of your subjects?
“Each week on my podcast, I interview international designers, change-makers, and fashion insiders. Talking to Simone Cipriani founder of the UN’s Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) stands out. The EFI works with brands to empower artisans in marginalised communities globally. I’m now working on a stand-alone podcast project with Simone and the UN to be release later this year. The message is that conscious consumerism can be a force for good, and that fashion is anything but frivolous.”