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In Her Own Words: Sustainability Guru Amy DuFault

In Her Own Words: Sustainability Guru Amy DuFault

We love Amy not only because she is one of the OG’s of sustainable fashion (Everlane was one of her earliest mentees) and wears a million hats in the industry: brand rep and consultant, event planner, writer, and, most recently, the Director of Communications at Pratt Institute’s sustainable design incubator, the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator. She also line-dries her laundry, raises chickens, and promotes local activism to teenagers on Cape Cod, where she lives with her family. In anticipation of the BF+DA’s second annual Positive Impact Awards on November 4, a public event honoring the latest crop of movers and shakers in sustainable fashion from major brands like Patagonia and Eileen Fisher to Pratt faculty, we managed to snag Amy for a New York minute. Below, the self-described international switchboard operator for fashion’s good people dishes on her first years in the field, how to grow a sustainable brand sustainably and her green dream. 

On her role at the BF+DA…

I run the blog, press, social media, co-work with the BF+DA founder on our large events and mentor our Venture Fellows on the side.

On sustainable fashion’s evolution over the last decade…

I have seen lots of shifts in companies large and small, some good, some bad. For example, I think when the idea of “eco fashion” first got some real notice, people marveled over the fact that clothing could be made from plants like bamboo and organic cotton. Years later, when brands realized how toxic the chemical stew was needed to make bamboo soft, I saw the first glimpses of brands taking deeper looks at their materials and having to make some big choices. Even organic cotton, a crop desperate for water as we battle limited water resources worldwide, has had to come under scrutiny. As it should. So whether they want to do better for the planet or their purses, I am seeing more brands stand up at the plate and get ready to take some swings for sustainability. I have also seen large brands stand at the same plate swinging with blinders on and have a great marketing team to do their greenwashing for them.

On the importance of human rights in fashion…

Personally, I have had to sort of pick my poison as to what I want to hone in on. That focus has become human rights because I feel like you can have all the non-toxic, sustainably sourced, technologically advanced fibers you want, but without a safe, non-toxic, fair wage friendly environment for the workers making the clothing, it's a bit silly that something could ever be called “sustainable” right?

On her best piece of advice for aspiring sustainable designers…

Pick a road and stick to it. You can't be a small or large brand and take on everything at once and do it well, so you need to ask yourself, what's the most important part of sustainability to me? Materials? People? Animals? The environment? Start with one area, explore it and you'll see how difficult just one aspect of sustainability is, but make it the very best you can, market the hell out of it as you go and be proud you have such a strong focus. If and only if you think you are ready to incorporate another aspect of sustainability, should you.

On celebrating pioneers in the field…

I LOVE the Positive Impact Awards. We're internally calling it the “Oscars of Sustainable Fashion.” There has to be moments where these pioneers get the spotlight and accolades they deserve. Being able to provide that platform for them at the BF+DA is just a great feeling for our entire team.

On her dream eco-fashion spokesperson….

Every teen superstar who has gazillions of followers on their YouTube “Haul” video channels! 

 

(Amy was in conversation with our Weeklies co-editor, Elena X. Wang. Image courtesy Amy DuFault)

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