I get profoundly excited when I find a woman as passionate about the environment and fashion as I am. Something so rare to find, but made more accessible thanks to the inter webs! I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mari Gutierrez when I was scouring the internet for sources to bolster my master's thesis on the ethical fashion transparency. I first found Mari being featured by the ever sustainable fashion brand, MUD Jeans. If you aren't familiar with the European brand, get familiar. Their denim + fit is to die for - the best part? Less expensive and ethically sourced, two things your everyday designer denim does not possess. Check out Mari's collab with MUD here!
So here she is, Mari Gutierrez, my #WomanCrushWednesday! Though we met in an entirely different way, I found out that Mari is actually from the town next to my hometown in the San Francisco Bay Area, talk about a small world. I can't say I'm surprised.. ;) Despite spending our formative years there, we have since both left California, Mari for her undergraduate studies @ the prestigious BYU (Brigham Young University) in Utah, which she just completed! Huge Congratulations! Fun fact: Mari was originally born in Utah. Not only does Mari have collaborations with notable European ethical fashion brands like MUD at only 22, but she also is the host of her own super dope instablog, @harbouraeblog!
Inspired by Mari's work, research and overall life passions I had the chance to chat with her about her positions on the ethical fashion industry in the United States. Aren't these terms oxymoronic though?
KM: How did you get involved with ethical fashion, and more importantly why?
MW: I went out of state for an Internship last summer and was introduced to some really cool brands who were taking the concept of ethical fashion in a direction that I thought was really innovative. It not only got me excited about reevaluating my standards as a consumer, but also got me excited about participating in a network of forward-thinking people. I decided to start a blog because the more I investigated the industry, the more I realized how important it is to curate a wardrobe and lifestyle that is conscious of resources that we are so lucky to have access to.
How do you think consumers in the United States can make a difference when shopping?
There are so many things that we can do! Supporting local artisans, repurposing old items, and buying from socially conscious brands is always a good start. One of the most impactful actions that I see making a difference is to go to the source. We need to take action and raise a voice against a mass market of fast fashion. We've already seen some of those large clothing brands trying out new methods of production, being more vocal about their supply chain, etc., and all because they are aware of their consumers.
Why do you think awareness surrounding ethical fashion has grown so much? When do you think this started?
Though some may say it's just a trend, I think that with the rise of technology and isolationism, we're looking for ways to reconnect with each other. Ethical fashion gives people a really unique and personal way to connect. Whether it's though supporting a local business, or being made aware of everyone involved in making those jeans you acquired, it feels good to find that connection on a level that is so personal to so many people.
What role do you believe technology plays in the world of fashion today? In shopping?
I think social media is playing a huge role. Companies now have more power to connect with their audience, and consumers now have more vision into how their favorite brands work and prioritize an ethical supply chain. It's no longer the era of websites, where the company controls so much of what they present. People are sharing stories of their experience with the brand, businesses are sharing behind the scenes moments on social media. So much is exposed that a lot of companies can't afford to not be taking steps towards a more ethical approach to production.
As you can see Mari is an educated, smart and informed woman. Not everyone can be ethical 100% of the time [not even me!] but everyone can try. Go forth, and make a difference!