On a regular basis, the fast fashion industry’s model renders a lot of what we have in our wardrobes, dormant. It has created a consumer culture of ‘buying more and wearing less’, often due to the poor quality of the cheap clothing and the drive to buy the next in-thing.
One person trying to flip the model to ‘buying less and wearing more’ is style expert, fashion speaker and former fashion editor of South African fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine for Black women, True Love magazine, Jessica Ramoshaba. Jessica advocates a conscious closet through regular reconnection with what you already have.
Jessica graduated with her first degree from the University of Pretoria before receiving her postgraduate degree from the fashion college, Lisof. She subsequently trained as a stylist in London and Dubai.
Jessica believes that one of the solutions to clothing waste is thinking about how you are using what you have. She is currently running a sustainable fashion business called Fouura which focuses on wardrobe organisation, styling and reselling. “We see it more as a lifestyle brand rather than styling agency as we would like to influence a new culture of shopping and wearing.
Styling agencies to us feel like they only perform one function,” she says.
Fouura focuses on services that drive sustainable fashion through decluttering and tailored style advice. This service assists clients with future purchases that serve their wardrobe and that have a long-lasting style impact. All unwanted garments resulting from the decluttering process are sold through a secondhand shop for Jessica’s clients.
What are the experiences that have influenced who you are?
I lived overseas for most of my career and that has had a huge impact on how I view fashion. Prior to my time in London and Dubai, I lived and worked in Japan, which sparked my creative thinking and opened me up to the idea that life has different points of view. I spent quite a lot of time by myself exploring the streets of Nagoya and the intricacies of Japanese culture. I came back fearless in spirit and still carry the notion of “in the world where there are different points of views, what is my point of view?”
Describe your style.
My style is informed by the fact that I do not buy anything I don’t love. Comfort first and that doesn’t mean flat shoes only but the garment needs to sit well and feel good. I need to be able to walk in heels for most part of the day. I need to survive in that particular garment for at least 10 hours a day. Otherwise, I won’t wear it and it will be a waste of an item. Ultimately, when you ooze confidence, magic happens.
When did you become aware of the importance of sustainability in fashion?
I was introduced to sustainability by my university supervisor when I was putting through my proposal for my postgraduate thesis. My thesis was arguing whether secondhand clothing is sustainable fashion, as I had intentions of opening up a business around this model.
I don’t impose the idea of sustainability on my clients. Through my experience most people are living sustainably in one way or the other. The only difference is that they may not be aware or name their approach as ‘sustainable fashion’. For me it’s testament to Africa being a place that offers solutions. We have been living in the “future” for centuries and now the rest of the world is finally using some of these approaches. It is not a trend in my view, it’s been a longtime coming. It’s all about using resources wisely no matter what you want to tag it. Particularly in slow living. Our fast-paced life only causing us fatigue and illness. Slowing down and resting is so important!
Is the talk of sustainable fashion shifting mindsets and inspiring behavioural change?
I think life presents us with different phases and challenges at any particular point in time. People have been living the sustainable trend for decades now. Think about a group of girlfriends borrowing each other’s clothes, a mother passing on her eldest child’s clothes to the youngest child, the phenomenon of girls wearing their stylish mother’s clothes… The only difference is that although in some instances we were aware we were saving money, we just didn’t tag it as sustainable fashion behaviour.
Fashion pet peeves?
Copycatting and not dressing according to your style.
Top 3 designers?
Top 3 tips for those trying to a conscious wardrobe and lifestyle?
The first question to ask yourself is: what’s your style story? Your wardrobe needs to tell a story. Your pieces need to tie together. When shopping, always bear this in mind. But this strategy also demands that you know every piece that is in your wardrobe. Decluttering and organising your wardrobe when you have free time is key to that. And that’s why we believe we have a brilliant model to assist clients who have no time to declutter and organise for this purpose. Lastly, I tell my clients to wear the pieces they absolutely love. This strategy is so helpful as it’s impossible to “love” and buy everything in a particular store. You can “like” everything but in that case, put it back on the rail.
As you move through different stages in your life’s meaning – at each stage, ask yourself – what do I see myself wearing?