Q&A with Amma Aburam who advocates & inspires change toward sustainable fashion
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a Ghanaian and French creative and digital marketing expert based in London. My joys are travelling, writing and fashion. Alongside my day job as a Digital Marketing Manager for a small sustainable fashion brand, I run my online space called Style & Sustain which I created as a way to share my passion for changing the industry by inspiring other fashion lovers like myself to enjoy fashion in a mindful, sustainable and ethical way.
Sustainability is clearly your passion. What inspires you to advocate sustainable fashion?
About four years ago I watched the documentary The True Cost by Andrew Morgan and it completely flipped the script in terms of my relationship to clothes. I always enjoyed fashion but never realised that the "addiction" that I had for clothes was incredibly harmful to people and the planet. It was hard to accept that something that I loved so much could be so harmful in so many ways, so I immediately wanted to be part of the solution. I stopped shopping cold turkey. It was hard but creating Style & Sustain helped keep me accountable while sharing my journey with others. Today, I realise that this was just the tip of the iceberg because the issue with climate change permeates so many industries and that change cannot just happen on an individual level but that accountability held towards brands, corporations and fossil fuel companies is crucial in driving change. Community and intersectional action is key to driving change within the fashion industry and beyond.
What message would you share to motivate & inspire others to follow their passion?
I'm still learning so much about doing what I love but one thing I never regret is just starting. Whether it was launching the blog, moving to London to work in fashion or starting a podcast, it all happened and grew because I just started. I was never 100% certain or ready but thank God for growth. Growth is the safety net because your passion will grow, evolve and take on a life of its own. Slowly you realise that you are not just inspired by your passions but that your passions in return inspire you to grow and change for the better. Most importantly, I like to remember that it's not about me, by following my passion I connect and discover others and we mutually impact each other. That is the most fulfilling: realising that at the end of the day it's about community with people.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a way to love my body and celebrate being alive. It's decorating my being: expressing what I feel on the inside by adorning the outside. It's about being authentic but also imaginative. People often see fashion as vanity or frivolous but I always say that after food and a roof over our heads, we need clothes to wear and even to protect our bodies from natural elements, so because of this every single person on the planet wears clothes. Whether you like fashion or not, we all participate in its ecosystem so why not try to understand its impact and learn to make choices that help fashion empower people and preserve the natural world, all while having fun with it of course!
How do you incorporate slow & sustainable fashion into your daily lifestyle?
It took me years but it started by understanding that fashion was an addiction for me and once I owned that I could finally take the steps to unlearn this. Especially, as women I believe we are socialised to see clothes as an essential part of our identity so we normalise hoarding clothes. But is it really normal or cool to have fifty pairs of shoes when you only wear 1 or 2 of them most of the time? I started asking questions and still do. It started with me but then I also questioned brands (thank you Fashion Revolution for that). On a daily basis, I try not to pressure/guilt myself and remember I'm unlearning an addiction. I remove myself from environments where shopping is tempting like going to a shopping centre or following tons of fashion brands on social media or being subscribed to fast fashion newsletters. I proactively seek out spaces and brands that promote mindful fashion habits and I must say running Style & Sustain helps a lot with that. I look for thrift stores when I'm out, find swaps or just spend time curating my wardrobe and connecting with like-minded people.
Your top tips for creating & maintaining a sustainable wardrobe.
Remembering that it is not just about buying sustainable fashion but rather changing your mindset and relationship to clothes. Top tip is to always start with your closet! When you see something you like, check if you have something similar in your closet or if you can recreate the style with pieces you already have. If not, ask a friend or family member if they can lend you something similar or if they even already have the item you're eyeing. If that doesn't do it, go thrifting, use secondhand apps like Vinted, Depop or Nuw Wardrobe or find thrift/vintage stores to look through. And finally, if that avenue doesn't work and this item is still on your mind, find and purchase it from a sustainable and ethical brand. Put your money where it will empower people and preserve the planet. I often find that these steps encourage me to be mindful about my fashion choices rather than be impulsive. It's allowed me to curate a wardrobe in which I absolutely love every single piece! Still, if that item you like is from a fast fashion brand and you believe you'll make use of it for years to come then go for it. Cherish it, mend it if it needs fixing and pass it on to friends or family if you ever decide to no longer wear it. Remember, it is about the mindset shift. That's where the true change happens.