Questions to Julia Leifert
At what point in your career did you decide to move towards sustainability? And why? What inspired you?
I grew up with having respect for nature, animals and people. So probably, sustainability has always been part of my life. I never made a clear decision „Oh, from now on I want to move towards sustainability“, it was even more a natural act to treat others with respect, and be responsible for the environment and my actions. I love fashion; this is where I wanted to work, where I feel at home. However, I do not agree with the industry’s standards. This is why I launched Philomena Zanetti. There needs to be a different way. Fashion is part of our life, our daily lifestyle, our self-expression. Fashion is wonderful and we all feel beautiful, strong, good, protected in our clothes. Nevertheless, how can I feel good in what I wear by exploiting humans and destroying the environment? That does not make sense to me.
Is it more difficult to be a sustainable brand? Or does it help you to have this USP?
I think these times are quite challenging for young fashion brands in general. There is a lot going on in the industry. But I think it is an opportunity to change the system. As a sustainable brand, we probably have to deal with different issues than conventional brands, which makes it sometimes more difficult. On the other hand, for me it was never an option to take another way, so sustainability is not the USP of Philomena Zanetti it is more a matter of course and a matter of my heart and I hope there will be for more brands in the future.
Does it limit your creative possibilities to work with sustainable materials?
Well, I am not sure. In this sector, you need to think different, because the resources are limited. It is good always to think outside the box. Sometimes there is a huge difference to the conventional creative process. Sometimes you have to be even more creative to get the same or even better results than other brands by working with limited resources. However, I love the challenge and I am always looking forward to discover new possibilities.
Most sustainable brands have a distinct eco-look. Why do not even more sustainable brands go for contemporary fashion?
When I started, it was super hard to find sustainable high quality materials. Research is a big issue for sustainable brands and you have to find good production. It always takes a lot of time to find what we need and what fits our requirements. Often the limitation has its price. So maybe this is one reason why other brands might have a different design approach. But I know a lot of young sustainable labels with great designs. Therefore, I think there are many cool young brands out there waiting to be discovered by us.
How long will it take for the big fashion houses to fully commit to sustainability?
I hope that they all will one day. I think we need to assume responsibility for our planet. However, of course, it is impossible for a big fashion company to change the entire supply chain overnight, but we all need to start somehow. Even small steps towards sustainability, like stopping the massive overproduction of clothes, can be done easily and help a lot.
What are the trends and challenges for sustainable brands in the next 10 years?
I hope that over the long-term we can change the mindset of people when it comes to „sustainability in fashion“. Still a lot of educational work needs to be done. We have to ask ourselves what the hypernym sustainability means. In general, and for me personally. Sometimes there is a huge difference within interpretation. On the one hand it needs to get easier for customers to find proper alternatives to conventional brands, and on the other hand we as customers need to overthink our consumption habits and come back to appreciate quality and craftsmanship.