Edda Hamer is a sustainable fashion queen. She is the co-founder of Undress Runway, a fashion platform to celebrate the work of sustainable designers. Now, her latest crusade to reduce waste in the fashion industry is Lána. Lána is a peer-to-peer fashion sharing platform that educates and inspires participants to think about how we can reduce waste, whilst sharing in a mutual love for unique style. Ready to discuss her passion for environmentalism, unique fashion and the future of Lána, we sat down and had a chat to the queen herself!
It’s obvious you’re passionate about reducing waste in the fashion industry, what was your first lure into the cause?
I had my first taste of the fashion industry when I was 20 and produced a runway show with some friends. I learned a lot during this first experience and became curious to know what happens behind the scenes of a production. I couldn’t believe how little I knew about the production of clothing; where clothes are made, how they are made and the injustices that farmers and garment workers face in the supply chain. I remember going to a talk by Alice Payne in 2011 and she explained the garment lifecycle, and how to be sustainable at each stage. That was a really eye-opening talk. In particular, she highlighted how to design clothing for zero waste.
Did you know that 6000kgs of clothing and textiles enter Australian landfills every 10 minutes? It’s nuts! It really frustrates me that the fashion industry has made us think that buying lots of ‘stuff’ will make us feel happy – and I’d like to change that!
What did you learn from the success of Undress Runway and how did you apply it to Lána?
Undress Runways taught me a lot about how the fashion industry operates. From fashion production to castings, trend forecasting to fashion-tech, I have gained an insight into the multitude of industries that are involved. I’m passionate about driving sustainable and ethical practices within fashion, as well as pushing for diversity and inclusion across the industry. Another great lesson from Undress Runways is the value that your team brings to an organisation. Undress was 100% volunteer-run, which taught me how to create a healthy culture, motivate team members and build a collaborative workplace.
Moving into Lána, employee happiness at work is important to me and I will always strive to create a fulfilling and enriching experience for the team. A lot of people come into the company with no idea about sustainable fashion. We equip them with knowledge and experiences to help them lead better lives and become active citizens inside and outside of work.
How has your own style altered throughout the years of working in fashion?
When I started Undress Runways, I was wearing a lot of really colourful vintage. At the time I was still learning a lot about sustainable fashion and I definitely found that going second-hand was the most accessible way to shop ethically. As I started to get more serious about Undress and evolved into somewhat of a spokesperson for sustainable fashion in Australia, I think my style reflected that and I started to wear a lot more black. Black, staple pieces are really easy to re-wear over and over and being in the public eye made me conscious of that.
I think now with Lána I’m getting back into my fun side and experimenting more with colour and more playful styles. Borrowing clothing as opposed to buying something new allows you to experiment with fashion that you wouldn’t normally wear. It’s like commitment-free shopping. I hope that Lána will become a platform where people can discover their style and have a bit of fun without having a huge impact on the environment. As we capture data about what people like to wear, we’ll be able to suggest unique pieces from wardrobes nearby that they wouldn’t have been able to find in stores. Maybe it’s a vintage pink trench that their 80-year-old neighbour listed!
What’s your favourite aspect about working in the fashion industry?
I consider myself lucky to belong to not only the fashion industry but also the tech industry. They are very different spaces; the people, the conversations and the motives. I appreciate both worlds. The fashion industry is fun. It’s full of creative people who know how to hustle for a living. You definitely don’t feel alone working in fashion!
Have any other waste sustainability projects inspired your ideas to reduce waste?
Documentaries to watch: War on Waste, Before the Flood, A Plastic Ocean and RiverBlue. Educating ourselves is the first step to making changes in our lives. Documentaries are a great way to gain an insight into behind the scenes of items that you come into contact with every day: clothes, food, plastic packaging etc.
In 2013, I did 6 months where I didn’t buy any food or drink that was wrapped in plastic. That really opened my eyes to how much plastic packaging we throw away on a daily basis – pretty much everything is wrapped in plastic! It was doable, but it was definitely difficult.
How do you see Lána growing in the next five years? Do you intend to produce an app for the platform?
2018 is going to be an exciting year. We will be building a mobile app (we currently have a mobile-friendly website) and expanding the service around Australia. Within five years time, we will be connecting global travellers with local wardrobes. Our mission is to create a world where you can travel with no luggage.
Imagine you’re heading to Iceland for winter: instead of buying winter gear in Australia and lugging it across the world, just fly straight in, get your Uber to pick you up and bring you a local winter wardrobe. Then just give it back at the end of your stay. When Lána expands across the world, you will be able to pack lightly and tap into local wardrobes as you explore new destinations.
To follow the movement and messages of Lána, check out their Instagram, Facebook and online website.