Nerida Lennon is so much more than just a pretty face. With a stellar modelling career in tact, the Melbourne maven is stepping off the runway and thrusting her fashion sense into an ambassadorial role promoting sustainable fashion. Proving her green thumb, the brunette beauty was recently awarded the British Council’s Big Green Idea grant to help develop her own sustainable fashion initiative. Fusing her love of fashion with her passion for conservation, Lennon is on a mission to make conservation chic with her push to transition the Australian Fashion Industry towards environmentally and socially sustainable practices. And she’s not alone.
Lennon will assist the Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) in partnership with Sustainable Fashion Australia at their sustainability seminar series, [Eco]logical Evolution at this weekend’s trade industry event Fashion Exposed.
Award Winning retailer and Premiere boutique trade show exhibitor 3Fish is one of many conservation companies speaking at the three day sustainability workshop that will bring together local industry thinkers, graduates and designers.
Joining the line-up is Melbourne Fashion icon Karen Webster who will discuss `The New Luxury’ and the growth of a new kind of high-end fashion market.
Other topics include Principles of Sustainable Fashion; and Rethinking [Service] Design – moving from a focus on fashion as a product to fashion as a service.
Fashion icon and industry leader, Karen Webster will discuss The New Luxury via Image Zimbio
The seminar series will showcase successful and compelling case studies for current sustainable business models in the textile, clothing and footwear sector, with emphasis on holistic business, sustainability and transparency. With the local retail sector seeking out new business models to adapt to the changing market and future selling trends, this event aims to look at innovative green solutions that can reduce costs and increase efficiency.
This is something Lennon is also keen to demonstrate and advocate during the daily seminars.
The Vivien’s Model really admires the creativity and innovation in the fashion industry. Her 9 year career brought her much local and international success spanning from luxury clients such as Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, to acclaimed local designers and retailers including Toni Maticevski, Camilla and Marc, Lisa Ho, Claude Maus, David Jones and Myer – to name a few. And she will bring her experience to the Fashion Exposed Salon Shows’ runway.
This is a dream run for most aspiring models, but it’s Lennon’s new role that has her most inspired.
“I’ve been in the industry for a while now, but I’d like to gain a reputation for supporting fashion labels that are making efforts to transition to more sustainable practices,” she says.
“I would like to be a sustainable fashion ambassador, inspiring and educating the industry and consumers about the innovative possibilities that will transition the industry towards sustainability.
“Successfully running my sustainable fashion initiative on a regular basis is my main priority.”
Fashion Exposed Blog took five with the eco-chic to chat about her involvement in the TFIA sustainability program at Fashion Exposed, her future conservation plans with Australian designers, and how sustainable fashion will help save the world.
The full [Eco]logical Evolution program is available for download here.
You are part of the sustainable Project which will have a presence at FE – neridalennon.com – tell us more about this initiative? And what’s your involvement?
I was assisting with the TFIA sustainability program at Fashion Exposed called [eco]logical evolution and it’s a great program which I’m looking forward to attending. However, I was awarded the British Council’s Big Green Idea grant to develop my own sustainable fashion initiative and need to dedicate my time and energy to that.
The initiative is a conversation about the future possibilities for fashion to become sustainable. It will showcase the journey of Australia’s leading fashion designers challenged to create garments that merge high-fashion aesthetics with sustainability principles, demonstrating that style is not a trade-off for sustainable design. The aim is to inspire and educate the fashion industry to incorporate sustainability principles into their practices.
The project involves filming the designers creating garments that meet sustainability guidelines developed by a sustainable fashion Advisory Committee. The garments will then be featured at an exclusive showcase event to celebrate them with the wider fashion industry, followed by a subsequent public exhibition to raise consumer awareness. Finally the information recorded will be used to develop an education resource for textile and design schools to inspire the next generation of fashion industry professionals.
Why are you passionate about sustainability?
For me sustainability is the most logical and natural way of living: we must learn to respect the world we rely on which is our most important asset. I’ve had a vision for a sustainable fashion industry for a long time now. I lived the majority of my life in Mount Dandenong surrounded by lush forest that instilled in me a deep respect for nature. My father has passed on his knowledge of global warming and when I was a little younger I was sponsored to attend a youth climate change summit called PowerShift. I was shocked to learn that my generation is the last generation to effectively mitigate global warming before we damage the planet beyond repair, but at the same time equally inspired and moved by the thousands of young people taking a stand to defend the future of our planet. When asked how I was going to make a difference in my own life the fashion industry instantly flashed into my mind, so I’m taking responsibility for an industry I’m so familiar with and I’m currently developing a sustainable fashion initiative. While, I feel a huge sense of urgency to assist the industry’s move towards sustainability, I’m constantly inspired by all the amazing sustainable initiatives around the world.
Why is it important to preach the benefits to the public?
It is not commonly known, but the fashion industry is one of the few industries that is very closely linked to our natural environment. Take a look at your own outfit and you will find that the items you are wearing were once a natural resource of some kind. For instance, my pants are made from tencel (wood fibre), my top and socks from bamboo and my scarf from cotton. Even synthetic fibres were once oil.
The fashion industry is comparable to the food industry. People are beginning to realise the importance in being mindful about the food they consume: purchasing organic, locally produced food because they are either concerned about what they put into their bodies and/or they care about how it’s degrading our natural environment. I believe clothing is the next industry that the public will be cautious of for similar reasons. There will be a growing concern about the toxins from clothing affecting our health (skin is a big organ) as well as polluting and degrading our natural environment. Through making fashion more sustainable we are reducing pollution and cutting out the nasty chemicals that are toxic to our bodies and the wider environment we live in.
How will sustainable fashion help the world?
The fashion industry is responsible for a tremendous amount of pollution and environment degradation. Future trends like global warming, natural resource depletion and pollution growth demand that the fashion industry change its current mode of business. Unfortunately the Australian fashion industry is lagging behind International efforts in adequately dealing with sustainability issues. Fashion designers wishing to adopt sustainability principles walk a fine line between ensuring their labels are commercially, socially and environmentally sustainable. Adding to this, many consumers shy away from more sustainable labels because they’re perceived as ‘alternative’ fashion. However, the future demands that designers adopt innovative and creative ways of keeping ahead of the game by ensuring their garments are not negatively impacting the planet, but rather sustaining it. This is especially true in regards to the carbon tax.
Through my project I hope to engage consumers and also other labels in sustainability by providing a realistic depiction of a real labels working towards sustainability and to provide an exploration into some of the possible issues that fashion business may face. The initiative I’m developing will emphasise the importance of sustainability through offering sustainable fashion that is desirable and relevant to consumers and the industry. Through exploring the opportunities and challenges facing Australian fashion designers, it will expand awareness to drive a demand for sustainable fashion, while supporting the industry to meet that demand by assisting them to ensure their product supply chains become more sustainable. This initiative will create leaders to set standards for sustainability and accountability in the Australian fashion industry.