Sarah Jay is a creative director, fashion director and a consultant with over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry. In 2007, she joined Fashion Takes Action, Canada’s only apparel non-profit focused on sustainability, to work with businesses and consumers on shifting their behaviour towards a more positive social and environmental impact. Sarah also nurtures fashion’s responsible innovations internationally as the associate producer of The Green Shows in New York, as well as fashion director of the Green Living Show and consultant to a growing number of independent designers and SMEs. In fact, she is the founder of All Earthlings, a consulting firm aimed at illuminating and eliminating undisclosed animal ingredients in supply chains.
Tell us about All Earthlings and how you’ve managed to tie that in with your creative work in fashion.
All Earthlings is the cumulative result of many projects I’ve worked on in many areas of sustainability over my 16-year career. It’s the philosophy I always felt was missing, and the issues I plan to tackle with AE are ones I feel to be definite priorities. Fashion has taught me many things, namely that it’s the most powerful tool with which to communicate solutions to the very ugly situations we’ve created. I don’t see AE as separate from my fashion work, but born of it. All of my work is creative work.
We’ve seen a wave of influencers showing a growing concern for the topic of sustainability. Do you think this can have a true impact on society?
Absolutely. And I’m very encouraged by this. I’ve been working in sustainability for 12 years, and the conversation is definitely growing. We can’t reverse the type of mass awakening that’s going on. We can’t unlearn the truths that are coming to light. We are hungry for fashion to mean more than it has. We know that fashion’s consequences extend far beyond our reflections in the mirror.
In your opinion, are we far from a reality where sustainable consumption habits become the norm?
No, because sustainable consumption habits can be chosen in an instant! Sustainable consumption can mean: choosing to wear something you already have as opposed to buying, borrowing from a friend, lending to a friend, renting, swapping, thrifting, washing in cold water with eco detergent, hanging to dry, sourcing a professional wet cleaner instead of a conventional toxic dry cleaner. It can mean tagging a brand and asking #whomademyclothes? Taking a trip to the tailor and updating an old piece that still has potential. Learning how to sew. Saving up for that thing you really love as opposed to scratching the itch with fast fashion. ALL of these things can happen NOW. Remember your power. Start with the (hu)man in the mirror.
We are all about digital these days. How do you think that will affect consumers and brands behaviour in the future?
There are myriad ways that technology can change the fashion system. I am concerned for what digitization will mean for the extended fashion community in terms of labor opportunities as I’ve seen first hand what this work can mean for women especially. But overall, there is real potential to improve transparency and efficiency throughout the industry. We are already seeing brands move away from the confines and excess of the seasonal schedule, creating digital samples and moving to made-to-order. It is my hope that as online retail becomes the norm, we as consumers hone in on our actual needs and do our part to stop demanding the supply.