Livia Firth. What a truly astonishing woman. She is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Eco-Age, the Founder of the Green Carpet Challenge, an Executive Producer of The True Cost movie, an Oxfam Global Ambassador, and a UN Leader of Change. Need I say more?
This week Livia Firth honoured leaders in ethical and sustainable development at a private dinner for a select few in Paris. She handed out recycled Perspex trophies to representatives of the four leaders: Kering, Chopard, Unilever and M&S. She told WWD “these are the businesses who are really making an effort to change”.
She has previously worked with Gucci, a Kering brand, and Chopard on products bearing the Green Carpet Challenge seal of approval developed by her consultancy brand Eco-Age.
Eco-Age was set up by Livia and her brother in 2008. They started out with a shop selling useful everyday items with minimal environmental impact. In 2013, they stopped the retail business to focus on consultancy. ‘Managing ethics and aesthetics’ is Eco-Age’s motto. The team of 25 now work to enhance the sustainability of the fashion industry, providing advice throughout the supply chain. If you’re ever looking to make it 26- please let me know!
Find out more: http://eco-age.com/
The Green Carpet Challenge started as a “game” between Livia and Lucy Siegle. When Colin Firth, Livia’s husband, received a Golden Globe nomination for A Single Man, Lucy challenged her to walk the carpet wearing only sustainable or ethical fashion. Firth found it gave her a great sense of purpose to run the carpets wearing a powerful story. By 2012, other celebrities were joining the GCC campaign. Meryl Streep attended the Academy Awards in a gold gown by Lanvin made from eco-certified fabrics, and Cameron Diaz worked the Met Ball in NY in an organic silk dress by Stella McCartney. The GCC Brandmark, a guarantee of sustainable excellence, has now become a powerful seal of approval many companies strive for.
Livia frequently talks in interviews about the danger of fast fashion. She describes it as an evil machine, exploiting everyone and everything: the consumer, the planet’s resources and the garment workers. Each year across the world, 1.5 billion garments are sewn by an estimated 40 million people, working in 250,000 factories. These are predominantly made in countries described by the UN as the world’s least developed. All in all, the garment and textile industry is estimated to be worth some $3 trillion. And the bulk of that goes into the pockets of the owners of those fast fashion brands.
She skillfully compares fast fashion brands to drug pushers. “They offer their potential clients a great deal, only to get them addicted. Once they’ve succeeded, they’re in the driving seat. In the case of poor economies, they addict them to the idea of lifting their people out of poverty. In fact, they’re like the big bad wolf, lying in wait for the dependency to start. And their citizens get enslaved in the same machine.”
So what advice does Livia offer to fashion lovers?
Livia is an advocate of shopping consciously, carefully selecting a few pieces from ethical and environmentally-sound companies to join her collection of vintage items inherited from her mother. She urges shoppers to take time deciding what to buy and to follow the 30 wear rule. If you’re not going to wear it at least 30 times, put it back down! She also recommends repairing and reusing before recycling to get the most out of your wardrobe. In an interview with the Telegraph she claimed “I think I’m one of the few people I know who still mends socks when they have a hole”. So let’s join Livia and shop slowly, choosing the quality and brand values over quantity every time.
Livia is a true inspiration and a remarkably beautiful women both inside and out. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram to find out more about her latest ventures.