How can we consume more consciously? That is a question that designer/model/activist Marina Testino wants to answer.
After graduating in fashion marketing at Parsons School of Art and Design, New York, she sought to create a brand combining her love for art and fashion. The result was Point Off View, which runs in a series of limited quantity capsule collections each uniquely designed by different artists.
About two years ago, the creative entrepreneur started to use social media to raise awareness on the dangers that unsustainable/linear fashion and our daily routines have on the environment. Through campaigns such as #OneDressToImpress, #CarryOnSummer and #YellowLikeALemon she not only (peacefully) protests against the exploitation of nature, but also offers creative yet simple solutions about how to change our relationship with fashion. With her current project, #WeSeaThrough, she points fingers on the invisible threats to the world oceans: micro plastics.
We caught up with Testino and asked her about her goals and what impact her campaigns have.
Working as a model, designer and influencer you should be a big promoter of fashion and ever changing fashion trends. How come you are not?
I’d lie if I say I don’t love fashion. To me, fashion is a way of artistic and social expression. The fashion industry is creative, disruptive, inspiring and influential. I admire and love that. However, that’s the artistic side, the trends, their textures, colors, shapes and fabrics. Production-wise, fashion is mainly “mass, fast and cheap” and most of the world’s consumers feed that motto with their demands. The amount of waste generated is more than worrying. When you start digging into this, you realize that a small change in consumer choices can go a far way. But don’t get me wrong, we do not need to get rid of the trends, good materials or luxury products, we just need to change how we demand for them and how they are being produced. In other words, rethink consumerism and production practices within the fashion industry and make the industry circular. It’s a long journey, but there’s no planet B so we have to start now.
#YellowLikeALemon and #OneDressToImpress were two of your recent initiatives regarding conscious consumerism. How did these ideas start and what was behind them?
Both started as personal challenges.
#OneDressToImpress is the result of a conversation with my friend @danilo; me complaining about changing outfits throughout Fashion Week and he challenging me to wear the red suit I had that night for a week. I decided to do it for two months in a row.
That conversation touched my nerve. I realized that we do not need that many outfits, just be creative! I wanted to show people that it was “ok” to repeat an outfit, and at the end of the day no one cares. So people have to get rid of this “superficial pressure” of constantly having a new look, because it is just wasteful and not necessary.
#YellowLikeALemon also started as a challenge to demonstrate that sustainable fashion isn't “boring, plain, or simple” and show that it can be fun, colorful and luxurious. This challenge started during Paris Fashion Week, so I was not only doing a fashion statement but a sustainable one; I was showing the industry how I was able to find all sustainable yellow outfits for the whole week and being able to adapt to every dress code.
If we all put a tiny bit of effort we can all be part of this amazing industry and make more sustainable choices.
What was the reaction among your followers? Did people understand and even follow your example?
I was sincerely (and touchingly) surprised when my followers started taking up the challenges. For instance, when I started explaining why I was wearing a red suit my followers wanted to take up the challenge too and they were asking for tips and help choosing their outfits. So I decided to extend the campaign to be able to change the mindset of other people and their idea of consumption. Both campaigns started as a one-month challenge but I ended up extending them an extra month.
Tell us about your current project, #WeSeaThrough...
#WeSeaThrough is a non-commercial awareness campaign that investigates the hidden causes and effects of micro plastics in our seas, but most importantly, is a search for solutions. After considering doing a campaign on sustainable swimwear I read several articles on microfibers (a type of micro plastics) and how they are consistently affecting our oceans. I learned that any synthetic garment sheds plastic every time one uses/washes it, and these microfibers end up in our seas. This is crazy considering that 60% of all worlds’ clothes are made with synthetic fibers. These microfibers are particularly dangerous because they cannot be collected, plus give off and absorb insane amounts of chemicals. I started talking to various NGOs and foundations to learn more about this issue, and realized no one has actually a response or solution to tackle the problem.
On that basis, together with @danilo, video artist of #WeSeaThrough, we wanted to create awareness so at least people would know. We obviously wanted to do this in a fun and catchy way so decided that as of today, the most sustainable solution was nudity. On that basis, #WeSeaThrough is a campaign involving nudity as a way of protest, as a challenge for myself and other participants, but most importantly as way to start again and rethink how our daily routines (buying clothes or beauty products with micro plastics) affect the environment.
Your initiatives always seem to have a fun attitude-does this reach people better than becoming too moral/serious?
Nowadays, people are overloaded with information and facts, particularly regarding sustainable choices, and most of the times this is a bit overwhelming. Everyone seems to be telling everybody else what you cannot do, but they don’t bring alternatives or solutions to the table. The aim behind of all my campaigns is to inform people about the problems in fun ways and as personal challenges, so people can engage and understand the problem with a creative, artistic twist. There’s already so much negativity in today’s society, so reinventing the ways to focus on problems to actually address them I think works better and also makes it easier for people to get involved.
What's your main message to consumers?
Be a conscious consumer, don’t guide yourself by passing trends but by items that you truly love and are long lasting. Don’t do it for the picture, do it for the planet.
How can consumers easily change their consumer behavior in their every day lives-please share some ideas...
During #YellowLikeALemon I created the 4S’s of Sustainable Fashion.
2. Share (or Rent)
3. Secondary Market
4. Sustainably Sourced
These four pillars can make our wardrobes more sustainable but at the same time you have the possibility of wearing whatever you want and changing clothes as many times as you want. Why buy new when you can rent/borrow or buy from the secondary market? There are so many options!
What would you like to tell the fashion industry and retailers when it comes to responsible behavior? What do they need to do first?
Please start changing your production practices to circular processes; start implementing new policies to generate less waste, to avoid plastic, to be more fair, but not only because the environment is suffering but also, commercially speaking, because new generations care about it and those people are your future consumers. That’s what I would tell the Fashion industry and its main retailers.
How and where do you shop for clothes?
I actually love borrowing (my friends and family hate me for it, haha) but I tend to travel with a carry-on when I'm staying at friends or families and they already know that I am going to go through their closets! Some cool brands I recently discovered are Underprotection, Sonia Carrasco, Blue Of A Kind, Nogen, Yatay, Ayni, Warp&Weft, Katharine Hamnett, Zilver... But I essentially rent and borrow clothes; I don't really buy new things unless I need them or really love them.