The Revolutionaries: Aja Barber
Welcome to our Fashion Revolution Week 2020 interview series, The Revolutionaries. We wanted to shine the spotlight on a group of women in our extended sustainable fashion community who inspire us to not only change our own habits, but to contribute to greater change. We caught up with them about their lives in lockdown, their thoughts on sustainable fashion amidst this crisis, and where fashion needs to go next. Today, meet Aja Barber, a revolutionary in the true sense of the word. Aja writes about sustainable fashion and how to buy better, while also using her Instagram as a platform to actually influence her growing following to challenge existing systems and think about sustainability in new ways. From rethinking the language of sustainable fashion, to making sure that the movement is inclusive and actually substantially ethical, we are so excited to share the words she shared with us. Keep scrolling to read our conversation.
Where are you writing this?
In my living room in South East London. My partner and I divide the space so we each have our working quarters, he gets the dining room table, I get the coffee table (obviously our flat is pretty tiny)
What quote/ mantra is getting you through this?
“This too shall pass”. I’ve also been getting back into a few bands I love like Massive Attack. Also I just listened to Gold by Spandau Ballet. That song is like an anthem of coming out of something strong!
What has made you laugh this week?
My partner telling me “you’re always laughing about stuff with your headphones on”. (You have to see his impression of me, like a snickering Gollum). The truth is sometimes on my platform people call me “angry” and “mean” but they have no idea how much I laugh because if I take the internet that seriously, it’ll kill me.
What won’t you ever take for granted again post quarantine?
Hugging my friends. Coffee dates. Laughing in a pub.
Which small businesses are you loving and would like to give a shout to?
Do I have to pick just one? Lora Gene, Berenika Czarnota, Birdsong. But bigger businesses that are doing incredible work? Elizabeth Suzann and Vejas. Pick brands who invest in people and make commitments to ethics and sustainability from the start. Brands who aren’t in it to get rich but are in it to be fair and build an honest business.
What sustainable message would you like to share this Fashion Revolution week?
Stop buying clothing from unethical companies. Stop propping up systems which hurt and harm others. We don’t have to do things this way. There are better ways.
What issue in the industry has this crisis highlighted that you want to help solve?
Too many to name. But if a company will make your friend, sibling, neighbour work during a deadly pandemic, imagine how they treat the garment workers who make the clothes (who they’re currently trying to cheat out of wages for work fulfilled because stores are closed).
Whose actions have inspired you during this time?
More in general… seeing people slow down and re examine everything. I know it’s happening. Maybe not for all people but I think many people are having an awakening.
What is your hope for the future of fashion?
I want to see things slow down in a major way and I want to see small ethical business get it’s due. Because I think our future is in small business.
But I can’t stress this enough … all of our movements need to be inclusive as well. If plus size people are left out of our sustainable and ethical movements then that’s not exactly ethical.