Today I have the honor to publish this amazing interview with Nina Gbor – a true eco-warrior. Nina is eco stylist, fashion climate advocate, speaker and founder of Eco Styles and Clothes Swap & Style and my personal hero. I almost cried when I was reading her answers, but I am too much emotional anyway. But let’s see what can we learn from Nina and do our best to make a change for a better future in these challenging times.
A quick introduction. What is your name, where are you from and what is your main occupation at the moment?
My name is Nina Gbor. I live in Melbourne Australia. I’m an ethical fashion speaker, educator, climate activist and eco stylist.
My career started through the love for the style which came from watching classical films (1940s – 1960s era) as a child. I admired the style of icons like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and several others. Through the films I became enamored with vintage fashion which I found in op shops (thrift stores)as a teenager.
From mixing vintage and contemporary pieces that I would find in the op shops, I created my own unique style. I would wear (and still wear) the pieces that truly spoke to my soul. This birthed a hobby that would later turn into a career, years later when sustainability and climate change eventually became a main issue on the global agenda.
Now I teach ways of developing a sustainable fashion industry, ways that we can reduce fashion’s impact on climate change and ways that people can curate a sustainable wardrobe.
You have exceptional taste and style. How do you do it?
Thank you. I don’t know if it’s exceptional however I’m always grateful for the opportunity to find, style and wear unusual pieces.
I think ignoring trends and mixing pieces from multiple eras simultaneously add intrigue, drama and individuality to my style.
For me, the 1950s vintage look is the foundation for my style. It verges on being elegant however, I incorporate lots of bright colors because colors make me happy.
My wardrobe is also mixed with quirky pieces like a multicolored jumpsuit that looks like a Rubik’s Cube.
One of my favorite pieces is a retro Star Wars t-shirt that I like to wear over a vintage ball gown skirt.
I honestly believe wearing outfits that reflect our values and express who we are on the inside is the key to having an exceptional style. I believe it’s the reason my style stands out.
In your website it says: “I love working towards solutions that change systems, culture and shift the status quo for progress”. How can we help the progress? Do you have any tips?
I read a quote somewhere that says, “If your voice held no power, they wouldn’t try to silence you.”
Whether it’s racial injustice towards black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), injustice against garment workers, injustice across gender lines or anywhere else, we have to use our voice and our abilities in any ways that we can, to end it.
Speak up even when your voice shakes, and your knees are weak. I feel like we’re here in this era to help make the world better. When you’re brave enough to take a stand, it inspires others to do the same.
This also goes for environmental issues of course. Here are some tips for shifting the status quo, be it with systems, culture or trends:
1. Listen. Truly listen. Lay aside any stereotypes and judgements you may have been preconditioned with and just listen. Believe people with grievances when they speak about them. Systemic and structural injustice systems are designed to be invisible to those who are not oppressed by them. When the oppressed speak up, believe them.
2. Have radical empathy – The lack of empathy is probably at the root cause of why we have so much injustice in the world. The cure to that is radical empathy.
3. Recognize links – Know that many of the issues that currently plague the world are linked and inter sectional e.g. racial inequality, climate change, gender inequality, etc. Because of the links, recognize the parallels and follow the threads because they might lead you to the common root cause (s). Therefore, when seeking solutions, think holistically.
4. Be holistic – Following the previous tip, if we are to truly solve these deep-rooted issues, we need 360 resolutions. We need to unearth the cause of these problems at the very core, then dismantle what is rotten at the foundation. Everything must become new. This starts with our individual thought processes, then our communities, societies, industries, and government policies. We must also be inclusive of marginalized people and groups in all of this, with their voices and solutions in full participation.
5. Take action – It’s great to share things on social media but we must take steps further until the changes that we seek fully come to fruition. Whether it’s pressure for legislation change or storytelling to help cultural change, we have to stay consistent. Big changes take time, so we have to commit to the process. The systems that create problems in the world did not happen overnight so dismantling them will also take time.
6. Check the ecology – With each purported solution, check its long-term implication before you implement. Check to know if it includes and supports everyone and the environment.
In the last few years do you see a change happening in consumption behavior? Do we have hope?
Yes, there have been significant changes. When I started in sustainable and ethical fashion, no one was talking about these issues. It’s beautiful to see it has become a mainstream issue that’s in conventional media and on social media. That has influenced consumers to be more conscious of
their clothing consumer behavior. Having said that, we still have a long way to go to get to a place where the fashion industry is systemically sustainable and ethical.
Where do you buy your clothes? Your tips for sustainable shopping?
I’ve been shopping in op shops (charity shops, thrift, consignment stores) since age 15. They constitute probably about 70% of my wardrobe. The rest comes from ethical clothing brands, clothes swaps vintage stores, online preloved sites and preloved markets.
Is ethical a new normal?
I truly hope so. This is exactly what we’re working towards. To make ethical and sustainable fashion the standard for how we manufacture, consume and dispose of fashion in the world. However, time will tell. According to Businesswire, the global ethical fashion market is set to reach $8.25 billion by 2023 so maybe it’s already happening.
I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did and got some new ideas and inspiration!
All the photos in the post were kindly provided by Nina Gbor.