In 2017, conscious consumerism is finally a focus in the fashion industry, but Amanda Hearst has been at the forefront of the conversation for the better part of a decade. As the woman behind the conscious ecommerce site Maison de Mode, Amanda spends her time as an advocate and activist who practices what she preaches, curating a lineup of home goods, accessories, and apparel from designers and brands with ethical and sustainable businesses — all while working on the boards of several nonprofits behind the scenes.
Since the beginning, she's been out to change the notion that ethical fashion isn't, well, fashionable — and a glance at the lineup of unique ready-to-wear labels and home decor could certainly convince any shopper of that. Browsing through Maison de Mode, you'll find brands like Westward Leaning, Lingua Franca, Lulu Frost, and Tome. And if there are brands you haven't yet discovered, a click-through to the products will reveal new treasures that you can feel good about supporting.
With that in mind, it felt like just the right time to tap Amanda for her holiday gift picks and pick her brain about the future of conscious consumerism, ways to give back, and what we can do to make a difference. As you might expect, the lovely Miss Hearst is filled with infinite wisdom on the subject. Read on to soak it all up, then shop her sustainable gift selections to put it all into practice.
POPSUGAR: What inspired you to cofound a conscious commerce site?
Amanda Hearst: My partner, Hassan Pierre, and I have always been concerned about sustainability and started our careers focused on that (I was writing about it at a magazine and he was designing a clothing line made of upcycled materials). We knew ethical fashion and sustainability were not just a gimmick, but the future of the industry. So, we created Maison de Mode to offer consumers a one-stop shop to find the best products. Now, everyone is talking about it — Kering, H&M, even Tom Ford!
PS: How would you describe conscious commerce/ethical fashion?
AH: I said it before, but it really is the future of fashion retail. The earth cannot sustain the impacts of fashion anymore — the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters behind oil. And from an industry perspective, nobody can compete with the pace of fast fashion. So really, conscious commerce is the industry's RESPONSE to all these issues. And in 10 years, "ethical fashion" will be synonymous with "fashion" — there won't be a difference.
PS: There are so many different terms surrounding ethical fashion, i.e. recycled, organic, green, eco, sustainable, fair trade, etc. What is your criteria for choosing brands to feature on your site, and how would you educate consumers on what to look for when trying to shop ethically?
AH: We have a "sustainability" page on our site that outlines all the different ways in which a brand or product can be ethical. We have icons that reference each type of sustainability — recycled materials, cruelty-free — and then we attribute those icons accordingly. All of our brands must meet at least one of our criteria, however, most hit two or three.
PS: What are misconceptions surrounding ethical fashion that you would want to correct in the marketplace?
AH: My partner and I actually started Maison de Mode to disprove the misconception that "ethical fashion is not cool." I think people assume that it might be crunchy, unglamorous, made of hemp. The reality is that there are a ton of sustainable brands out there that are luxurious and cool, and those are the brands that we feature.
PS: Besides shopping ethically, what are some things consumers can do to make a difference?
AH: I've been thinking a lot about plastic recently, how much we use it in our day-to-day lives and how it's destroying the oceans, polluting our natural resources, etc. So, I think one big way to make a difference is to shop with bag from home like a canvas tote. Opt to carry things versus using a plastic bag. Have a reusable water bottle and coffee container. I really believe that little things like that make a big difference!
PS: You are involved with so many wonderful organizations i.e. Humane Society, Friends of Finn, Nest, and, of course, Maison de Mode. What advice do you have for people who want to give back but aren't sure where to start?
AH: I read this quote by Christy Turlington which I thought was great: "What makes you cry? Start there." It really can be as simple as that. For me, I always loved animals but I wasn't sure how to help. I started working with the HSUS — going to their events, volunteering — and then I found that the issue that really moved me was puppy mills. I found out my dog Finn was from a puppy mill and so that issue really hit close to home.
PS: What's your favorite gift to give during the holidays? And what's on your holiday wish list this year?
AH: My wish list is basically everything on our site . . . and as for a favorite gift: when in doubt I always think a nice gift is to foster an orphaned elephant on a friend's behalf at DSWT.