It’s no secret that social media currently offers the best platform for people to talk about the issues that matter to them and Aditi Mayer is no exception. After hearing about the Rana Plaza Factory collapse on the 24th April 2013, Aditi was inspired to take a look at her own wardrobe and pose some difficult questions to the brands making her clothes. Now through her blog, Adimay, and her @aditimayer Instagram account, she explores the space between style, sustainability and social justice.
The first thing you’ll notice is her photography style - wistful and romantic, it reminds of the beauty that can be found when we slow down a little; when we take a moment to appreciatethe things we already have, rather than coveting the things we want. Her blog, on the otherhand, is more hard-hitting; covering topics such as racial prejudice in fashion and cultural appropriation.
Considering the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse took place recently, our interview with Aditi feels even more poignant. Here, we discuss her inspiration, style and the issues facing the fashion industry today.
What inspired you to start your Instagram account?
“Before I entered the world of fashion, I identified as a visual storyteller - I got into photography at the young age of 12. Five years ago, at the start of my college career, I started posting my photography work publicly. At the same time, I decided that I wanted to delve deeper into the world of fashion photography. It was then that I learned about the Rana Plaza Factory collapse. This was quite the pivotal moment - I realised the catastrophic effects of the fashion industry, especially upon women of colour.”
“All of these factors aligned to initiate the start of my blog, which explored the sustainable fashion industry through visual and written mediums. The Instagram account followed, and became a largely editorial space where I engaged with sustainable fashion and travels.”
How has your relationship with fashion evolved over time?
“Fashion is my tool to observe larger systems of inequality. I truly believe that the fashion industry is a microcosm for many systems of injustice in our world today, especially when we consider the human and environmental capital that goes into making it. When it comes to myown clothes, it’s my way to explore my sense of identity and culture. I’ve also begun looking at my closet like a curator, rather than a consumer. Think of it like an art gallery. Before buying a piece of art, we think, “do I want to see this piece for the next couple of years? Is it worth the investment?”
Have you always followed sustainable fashion?
“No - I didn’t know what sustainable fashion was prior to my journey with my blog. However, I did grow up shopping predominantly thrifted and secondhand, which is inherently sustainable.”
How can people ensure the clothing they buy is sustainably made and sourced?
“It goes back to the degree of supply chain transparency. The best sustainable brands really hash out the story behind their clothes - the materials used, the places sourced, the hands that made it. However, there are a few certifications that help ensure sustainability. Fair Trade Certified is a designation developed to help consumers support products thatcome from farms that have been certified to provide fair wages and safe working conditions (forced child labor is prohibited).”
“The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. Oeko-Tex is a registered trademark, representing the product labels and company certifications issued and other services provided by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology (which also calls itself Oeko-Tex for short).”
What are the biggest problem areas in fashion at the moment when it comes to sustainability?
“The two main elements of the fashion industry are the human and environmental capital. The most marginalised groups in society are often the ones making our clothes, and it is these same communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental issues. As a result, the way we look at sustainability in fashion truly demands an intersectional approach,as every issue is interlinked. We need to give a platform to the voices of those seldom heard.”
How would you describe your photography aesthetic? What are you hoping to inspire?
"I would describe my aesthetic as earth-toned, feminine, movement and form driven, androoted in identity when it comes to subject matter. I like to highlight the beauty of people ofcolour in my visual imagery.”
Can you name some of your favourite brands?
“Being so deep in the sustainable fashion world, sustainability and ethics are baseline requirements for me, rather than differentiators. As a result, I’m drawn to brands with strong design philosophies. Some current favourites include Bora Studio Nepal, Sourcery, Grammar NYC, and Tonle.”
When did you start working in responsible fashion and what was the catalyst fordoing this?
“My journey began in 2014. After I learned about Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, I discovered the response to fast fashion - the sustainable fashion movement. However,early in my involvement I noticed a lot of problematic tropes in the industry: white saviorism, lack of inclusion, to name two. As I became more involved, I developed a voice that wasrooted in interrogating the identity politics of the fashion industry. This became the driver of my work.”
What’s your most treasured piece of clothing and why?
“I have been traveling a great deal recently - I did a three month traveling stint between Paris, Nepal and India this past summer. There was one piece I wore religiously-- my grandfather’s old button-up cotton shirt. It’s come to have quite the sentimental meaning formore reasons that one.”