Art For Veganism

In 2018, everybody is scrolling past content that is infinite. Sharing information on the internet and social media has become the norm. Among that information, opinions, ideas and beliefs are riddled within cyberspace for anybody to find. Movements are started with hashtags and art becomes a mouthpiece for communities.

With over 600 posts on Instagram, CJ Jacobs (@cynical_coyote) uses her talent to spread awareness about the oppression of animals to non-vegans. Based in Albany, New York, the artist creates striking images detailing the harsh reality of animals raised and slaughtered for human consumption. Jacobs began incorporating the theme of veganism into her artwork a short time after she began the vegan diet herself.

Image: Cynical Coyote

“I felt an urge to talk about everything I’d learned. I’m not well spoken so art was the natural outlet, and it became an addiction.”

Jacobs encourages anyone who visits her account to ask questions they may want answered about veganism. The artist also allows others to share her art, believing that if she were in the animals’ position, she’d hope that the few who did know the extent of her abuse would speak out about it.

“I want to be the person who I would listen to when I was not vegan, and I want to share the information I believe is hidden.”

Image: Cynical Coyote

Jacobs describes the account as an obligation to the vegan activist community. By interacting with the commenters on her paintings, conversations are ignited, encouragement is given and the argument for veganism gains more momentum.

“It’s important we all do out part to spread awareness to counteract campaigns companies can afford to run.”

Image: Cynical Coyote

The account is thought-provoking and yearns for empathy from whoever visits. Jacobs’ creations are sure to extract emotions from their viewers – the pieces do not shy from colour and are bold and confident in their messages. Although the vegan population around the world is the minority, Jacobs’ message to her followers is to stay hopeful.

“I think it’s important to not only accept negative realities but the hope to change them.”

 

Written by: Celina Foong

Select works can be purchased here

A Fashion Reformation

Making waves in LA, Reformation is the new go-to label of fashion’s best and brightest. With minimalist staple pieces and luxe basics, it’s been snapped adorning the likes of Margot Robbie and Emily Ratajowski. But this isn’t your average trend alert. The brand, established in 2009, has a mission. Conscious, persistent fashion made for real people, by real people.

Image: Fashionisers

“Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2,” the brand’s website boldly quips. So you might be surprised to hear that Reformation is, by definition and self-professedly, fast fashion.

“The prevailing sustainable platform—‘Buy less, use less’— isn’t a scalable strategy,” explains the label’s founder Yeal Aflalo. “You buy clothes because you really want them. The sustainability part is for us to figure out.” And they have. Reformation chases sustainability across the board, from recycled hangers in their stores to paying their workforce to use public transport instead of cars. Employees shouldn’t expect a sad cupcake on their birthday, with the company instead planting a tree in their name to commemorate the occasion. All whilst releasing new collections weekly.

Image: Observer

It almost sounds too good to be true- in a world of “green” and “eco” buzzwords, it can be hard to assess the true extent of a brand’s impact. This is where Reformation put their money where their mouth is.

Their online ‘RefScale’ feature tracks their environmental footprint on every article of clothing, adding up the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, gallons of water used, and pounds of waste generated. When compared against the average article of clothing, the impact is startling.

Image: Eluxe Magazine 

With such extreme scrupulousness, Reformation is definitely a labour of love for Aflalo. However, she remains driven by her frustration at the inaccessibility of many sustainable clothes. “First and foremost, we’re trying to make great clothes that everyone will love, which also happen to be sustainable.” She says, “At the time [Reformation was founded], there weren’t many other brands who were making sustainable clothes that I would actually want to wear, so I created Reformation to fill this void at the intersection of design and sustainability.” 

Image: Fashionisers

However, the brand is so much more than just ‘cool and green’. Reformation consistently pursues body positivity- a rare find for a Hollywood label of such celeb status. Designs are released in capsule collections, each with different bodies in mind, with a recent a petites collection designed for ladies 5’2 and under, as well as a collection specially designed to fit women with a full C-DD cup. The brand has now gone even further in their push for social change by announcing more inclusive sizing, ranging from US size 0-22.

Image: Culture Map Dallas 

Aflalo hopes Reformation will be they first of many labels to adopt progressive social and environmental attitudes. “The industry will have to change given resource constraints and other environmental and social constraints,” she says. “I think the question is more “when” – when will big brand leaders respond proactively, or will they wait until it’s a matter of compliance. We’re really excited about the future of sustainability and the technology that comes along with it.”

 

Written by: Kate Nightingale

Find Reformation here

Sources:
https://www.vogue.com/article/reformation-eco-fashion-ethical-label
http://www.buro247.com.au/fashion/insiders/how-yael-aflalo-turned-reformation-into-an-it-girl.html
https://www.thereformation.com/pages/sustainable-practices

Sudara: Bringing An End To Sex Trafficking, One Step At A Time

Sex trafficking – such a small phrase with so much behind it. It’s easy to dismiss it as something unrelated to us, when we are cocooned in our small, safe world. But it’s a reality for many young girls and women who are forced into prostitution of their own free will. It’s hard to say how many people exactly have been affected this way, but according to Equality Now, more than 20.9 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking, with 54% of them being exploited for sex. This is more than just discomforting, when we think of slavery as a thing of the past – but the truth is that victims of sex trafficking are victims of slavery.

Image: Guardian Liberty Voice

So why is this still happening around the world today? Although trafficking of all kinds has been criminalised in 158 countries, it continues to be a prevailing issue, especially in developing countries where young girls are easily coerced into the trade, with false promises of a brighter future. Sometimes it is not the young children who are lured into prostitution, but their own families who sell them into the sex trade, seeing no other alternative for financial support. But how can we help? We may know all the statistics behind this horrifying truth, but what is knowledge without action? Thankfully, the answer to this question is not as hard as we may think. Shannon Keith, founder of Sudara, has created a clothing brand which supports women who have been sexually exploited, teaching them skills which enable them to support themselves and move away from the sex industry.

Image: Sudara

Keith recounts her visit to India in 2005 which propelled her into establishing Sudara; she had heard story upon story about women being coerced into the sex trade, through no fault of their own. Many girls came from rural areas, and only had knowledge in the agricultural field. However, as a result of natural disasters, this future no longer became an option for them, and their lack of education and skills in other areas set them up at high risk to be picked up by local pimps or even to enter the industry themselves as they saw no other choice.

Keith decided to set out to partner with sewing centres in India, which could provide victims with the basic skills a seamstress needed, as well as a safe environment where they could earn a stable income for themselves and their families. That was how the Punjammies® line was born. The classic yet cute loungewear has all been lovingly sewn by victimised women, and since its beginnings more than ten years ago, Sudara has been empowering women to live a life free from sexual exploitation. Women are able to gain back their confidence and self-esteem, and some have even moved on to start their own business with the skills they have learnt, or have found meaningful jobs where they can re-build their lives.

Image: Sudara

By purchasing from Sudara, we can also help battle against sex trafficking and support the livelihood of these victimised individuals. If you would like to go one step further, donations are welcome when checking out on the website. All donations go towards the Sudara Freedom Fund, a not-for-profit branch which creates a pathway for the women and girls to get back into school or a training program that can equip them for the future. The fund also goes into providing education for the children of the women, as well as safe housing for those escaping abuse, and services for the mental and physical wellbeing of the women.

Sex trafficking is still a massive issue and may at times seem overwhelming, but by taking small steps even in the way we purchase, we can battle it together and bring awareness to the cause. And maybe, even one day, it will end. For good.

 

Written by: Tiffany Ko

Sources:

https://www.equalitynow.org/sex-trafficking-fact-sheet
https://www.sudara.org/pages/our-story
https://www.newsdeeply.com/womenandgirls/articles/2017/05/08/breaking-the-cycle-of-human-trafficking-in-india-with-education

 

A Step Toward A Cruelty Free Makeup Collection

Like any other makeup-wearer, I understand the struggle of trying to find a foundation, lipstick, concealer, you name it, to match my face. There’s so much to consider like skin type and undertones and if you purchase something and it doesn’t match, you’ve got two options; a) throw it out and come to peace with how much money you won’t get back, or b) use it and eventually spiral into madness because you know there’s something out in the world that’s perfect for you but is not in your hands (or in this case, on your face).

If you’re a bit of a penny-pincher like me, you do your research before purchasing any item of makeup. And by research, I mean watch YouTube videos. Something that I found a lot was beauty bloggers using only cruelty free makeup to create their looks. They promoted brands that didn’t test its products or its ingredients on animals. It was a factor I hadn’t considered before purchasing makeup. A few quick Google searches later, I found that most of the makeup I owned belonged to brands that stood proud as cruelty free (12 brands out of 18 to be exact).

Image: Monica Svajdova

I’d always had the notion that finding cruelty free makeup was a rarity. It isn’t, but animal testing is still a problem. Since Germany’s ban of animal testing in 1986 and multiple countries following suit since, thousands of animals are still tested on worldwide each year. One of the largest problems surrounding this issue is the testing of products in China, where animal testing is required of cosmetic products that have been imported and produced domestically. The case being made by animal rights activists is that the harm done to the animals far outweighs the benefit it serves to humans and is therefore dispensable. In Australia, animal testing will still be required for some cosmetic ingredients until July this year.

Image: Animals Australia

Cosmetic companies can choose from a list of over 7,000 ingredients that have already been proven safe to formulate their products. Testing can also be done on cultured tissues and computer models to prove their safety on humans. It’s safe to say that technology has developed better alternatives to animal testing, so it’s unnecessary to test products on animals only to yield results that have little or sometimes zero correlation to the intended effect on humans.

Switching to cruelty free makeup isn’t a limiting choice. There are hundreds of brands to choose from, and spending your money wisely is the best way to protest cosmetic product testing on animals. Governments everywhere are putting regulations and codes in place to stop it from happening. In an age where humans are realising their impact on the earth and its creatures, it’s time to make conscious decisions about what we wear not only on our bodies but on our skin, too.

Image: PETA Australia

It’s as easy as assessing what you already own and spending a few moments on Google. If you’re looking to buy new products, factor in which brands you want to support in their effort to stop animal testing.

 

Written by: Celina Foong

An Ambassador for Change

If you’d asked a young Zuhal Kuvan-Mills- living on her family’s hazelnut farm in rural Turkey- where she envisioned herself being in 2018, would making waves as a rising fashion designer be her first guess?

“No, not at all!” laughs the talent behind local label Green Embassy. Casually dressed for our chat at the Vashti offices, the bubbly artist is proudly sporting a newly-thrifted red cardi- a far cry from her own ethereal, luxurious creations.

“I think I look a bit different to most designers, in my old jeans, old shirt and RSPCA (Op Shop) jacket!” She jokes.

With this patent down-to-earth attitude, Kuvan-Mills recounts the unconventional journey that led her into the world of fashion.

“I actually started as a veterinarian surgeon in Istanbul… then did further studies in conservation biology, then did a postgrad in education.

“I was purely academic, just teaching… this was until about 2004,” she recalls. “I decided it was time for a break.”

Unable to shake the pull of the crafts she had first learnt from her mother and grandmother, she decided to pursue her long-lost love of tailoring and textile making.

Cue the birth of Green Embassy.

“I was creative, had always done things like sewing,” the designer remembers. “Living in the Swan Valley with a few animals, I focused on textile arts for a few years.

“One day, I wanted to photograph my work, but instead of on the wall I displayed it on a woman’s body and someone thought it was couture! So the idea started there.” She laughs.

Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognised organically certified fashion label, striving to uphold the rigorous Global Organic Textile Standards. Kuvan-Mills’ nature-inspired designs are driven by fair trade practices, zero-wastage production and organic, chemical-free textile creation. She even makes her own textiles where possible, with the help of 50 obliging alpacas.

“I process straight from the backs of my animals all the way to the runway,” she gestures. “I wash, I clean, I cart, I felt, I spin, I knit, everything!”

When asked why being environmentally-conscious in her designs was so important to her, she confesses. “I hated fashion. Absolutely hated fashion… I like the creative side of it, the art… [but] because of what’s going on with fast fashion- I was sick of it. After oil and gas it is the second biggest polluter.

“But I realised that if I am a teacher I can only teach 30, 40, 50 people (about conservation) in one go. If I am an artist, well, then I can exhibit- I wait for my exhibition time, only for just as many people see my work. And then I thought, what about fashion? Fashion can be the medium.”

Making it’s big runway debut in 2014, Green Embassy’s collections have made a big impact on the international stages of Paris, London and Beijing. Kuvan-Mill’s signature aesthetic of floating silks, structured organic cotton creations and felted motifs of roots and branches all come back to her initial vision.

“Art. Conservation. Sustainability.” That’s how Kuvan-Mills surmises Green Embassy.

The designer says she wants people to feel pride wearing her designs. “They are wearing an art piece, something to take pride in and keep for next generations of their family.

“Every piece I create is unique, I can never make the same one again because of the textiles. Each piece, even the same size can be different. It’s the total opposite of fast fashion.”

Kuvan-Mills’ 2016 collection, Silent Rainforest, was a dark horse highlight to the 2016 Vancouver Fashion Week. Featuring rich orchid-inspired tones, the designer says the collection was influenced by the desire to bring awareness to conservation efforts for Balinese rainforests.

“I used to teach about [rainforests] when I was in the UK. I was in Bali a few years back and noticed the amount of destruction that was going on there because of tourism, constant cutting and clearing,” she says. “I called it Silent Rainforest as a kind of tribute to [Rachel Carson’s seminal conservationist text] ‘Silent Spring’, but the way it’s going with the land clearing it really will be a silent rainforest.”

Since its success, she has debuted her 2017 Empty Oceans collection, featuring recycled plastics. “I found cut offs from the fishing industry, fishing nets in skips outside the factory. I just made this little simple top while I was having my coffee in the kitchen,” she laughs, “and then Pamela Anderson chose it to wear in a magazine interview!

“It was amazing to feel that kind of support coming from across the world.”

Her latest line is inspired by IUCN’s Red List of endangered animals. “I’m focusing on two species right now, the ones we are losing right in front of our noses: Carnaby’s Cockatoo… and another one in the tropics, the Cassowary,” she says. “I’ve been collecting feathers from parks and land and the rivers. I also work with merino wool and silk, which I try to find in op-shops.”

Kuvan-Mills is humble about Green Embassy’s success and is now focused on using her growing platform to further the eco-fashion movement in Australia.

“This little fibre, which all started with my alpacas, turned into this textile, which turned into Green Embassy, and Green Embassy was only a springboard, a catalyst.” She says.

“The label grew outside of Australia and gained success, and I focused on outside, but I was always waiting for a change back home.

“When I started, support for this was nothing…but now I’m starting to see a massive, supportive, and vocal community which is working without needing anyone.

“It’s here already, it just seems like people are waiting for something to happen.”

The designer hopes that her newest venture, Eco Fashion Week Australia, could be just that something.

“We started [the festival] last year and I was speechless. I ended up leaving many designs at home, as our schedule, our venues had all been organized for just a few things, and it suddenly got huge!” She gushes.

The festival is Australia’s first national-scale celebration exclusively for environmentally-positive fashion. This year’s event, hosted in Port Douglas and Fremantle, boasts 44 local and international eco-conscious designers, with nightly runway shows, clothes swaps and seminars.

“We have some big names coming in, but I’ll keep that as a surprise!” Teases Kuvan-Mills.

“Now it’s an international event, with good support outside of Australia, it’s finally giving opportunities for local young people, young designers…four, five years or so ago, when I started in Perth, I was told there was no such thing as what I wanted to do. Eco-fashion was just a hobby, it’s a bit of art, and that was the attitude.

“Now there’s a global movement that’s educating people to make the right decisions, especially now fashion can be more or less the same price as a cup of coffee.

“I think we are starting to connect more with what we are wearing. Showing love and value toward our clothing, you are kind of building a relationship. Being sustainable is just changing minds so people will start valuing locally produced, handmade and sustainable materials, so they start buying and supporting the local economy.”

Eco Fashion Week Australia is on from 15-21 November in Fremantle.

 

Written By: Kate Nightingale

Images: Green Embassy

Learn more about Green Embassy here.

Fight Back and Join The Fashion Revolution

Have you ever wondered who was behind that gorgeous cocktail dress collecting dust in your wardrobe, or the comfy sweaters piled up in your cupboard? How about that pair of shoes you just can’t live without? Most people don’t. We buy, we throw away, then we buy again, never considering who’s actually making these clothes for us, and what their lives are like. How long have they been slaving away creating clothing they will never be able to wear themselves? Are they only being paid pennies for their work, or worse – nothing at all?

Image: Trusted Clothes 

During Fashion Revolution Week (April 23 through 29 this year), we are reminded of just how important what we choose to put on our bodies are. Our choices aren’t only affecting our personal image, but the lives of individuals with their own families, friends and dreams. It may have been five years ago, but the Rana Plaza collapse is still very relevant today. On the 24th of April 2013, a garment-factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1 138 people and injuring more than 2 500 others. The devastating collapse is the deadliest sweatshop accident in history, and many are left wondering why these things still happen today in our ‘modern’ world.

Image: Muniz Uz Zaman / AFP / Getty Images

The fear of this occurring again was the motivation behind the Fashion Revolution, a global movement with the goal of uniting everyone in a fight for an ethical and sustainable future for fashion, and those influenced by it. Although the fashion industry is an amazing outlet for creativity, its practices are far from humane, and this year long movement brings to light the problems still prevalent within the industry. Rather than hitting hard with facts and making consumers and producers feel guilt, the Fashion Revolution instead drive people to realise that they can create change. #whomademyclothes was the campaign of April, encouraging brands to change the way their clothing is sourced and produced. Most well-known brands still source from sweatshops and profit from cheap labour, but the Fashion Revolution is pushing for a change towards clothing that is made in a safe, clean and fair way. During Fashion Revolution Week, brands were asked to step up and claim #imadeyourclothes, for the first time openly stating where their clothes are produced.

Image: Atelier Tammam 

But how can we contribute to change? It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the facts and feel helpless in an issue affecting so many. However, we as consumers wield more power than we are aware of. Just being conscious of the things we choose to buy, whether they are produced through exploitation or ethical means, could save a life. Even though we may feel small, when we demand the brands we love to take action, they will listen. Nowadays with the use of social media, a tweet or Instagram post holds equal power, if not more, than an email or letter. It’s such a simple, yet effective way to connect with where we shop from, and with enough traction, our voices will be heard.

So, what are you waiting for? Join the Fashion Revolution now, and create a better future for fashion, and for the world.

 

Written by: Tiffany Ko

Find out more about Fashion Revolution here.