Fashion writing...with Mary Gehlhar

Fashion writing...with Mary Gehlhar

We sat down and spoke with Mary Gehlhar, the Author of The fashion designer survival guide and advisor for #consciousfashioncampaign 

Mary wearing the Bahamas Shirt in white 100% GOTS certified organic linen. 

Advisor for #consciousfashioncampaign what is the most important sustainable advise you would like to communicate to our readers?
The most important thing is to buy with longevity in mind. We want to keep our clothing out of the landfills and in circulation as long as possible. So look for high quality, beautifully made items you will treasure, wear often and keep or pass down. So much of the clothing I wear is 20 or more years old and because it is well made and interesting but not based on short lived trends, I can put items away for a while and then be excited to pull them back out a few months or even years. Now my teenage daughter is starting to enjoy my archive as well!

Who is your favourite style muse and why?
I don't have a specific muse but Im inspired by women who develop their own individual style to express their unique personality and essence. I admire women who enjoy fashion and curate their look but don't let it overpower them. I think of Joan Didion, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sophia Coppola, Zadie Smith, Cate Blanchett, Gloria Steinem - there are so many!

Portrait illustration by @laviecharmante_illustrations

As a frequent advocate for sustainable fashion - and inspired by your recent talk in art & fashion law conference in New York - What do you think fashion brands should be focusing on most?

Circularity is the the most important issue for brands. The design process needs to consider the impact of a garment on people and planet through every step of its lifecycle. There are issues of pesticides in growing the raw materials, pollution from the dyes and chemical finishes, animal welfare issues and of course working conditions and compensation for everyone from the farmer to the sewer. But even after the garment is made brands need to consider how long it will last, can it be repaired, whether it will leach pollution such as micro plastics into the water when washed. Finally they need to take responsibility for recycling or repurposing garments at its end of the cycle.

What is your favourite Oramai piece and why?
I love the Bahamas shirt dress. Its so classic and easy to wear a million ways and linen is such an incredible fabric which gets softer and more luxurious with each wear.

As Author of The fashion designer survival guide what advise would you give young fashion startups?
It's important to take time to get really clear about your values, why you are making what you are making, and what does it really bring to your customer.
There are so many ways to run a business and its easy to be distracted by what others are doing, but if you stay focused on your mission and values, that will guide all of your decisions and help you stay true to yourself.

Follow Mary on @marygehlhar