A-list star stylist Tara Swennen — whose clients include Kristen Stewart, Ali Wong and Sarah Michelle Gellar — recently teamed with fashion nonprofit Remake on a three-month hiatus from shopping as a way to spotlight sustainability.
The June 1-Sept. 1 initiative aimed “to press pause on purchasing new clothing and take time to reflect on possible overconsumption — looking at your closet as a way to reduce your carbon footprint — reuse items, and support services like a tailor or secondhand shops.” Swennen passed with flying colors.
“I was able to absolutely not make one single purchase,” said the stylist. “It felt really good. The challenge itself allows space for just trying to think about how you purchase and what you purchase, whether it’s sustainable brands for yourself or as gifts, supporting vintage or secondhand businesses, and, of course, supporting up-cycling fashion brands of the world. I think three months for most people is very doable.”
Swennen is, however, quick to admit that someone in her position is very fortunate because she receives gifts from close friends who happen to be famous designers. “I actually don’t have to spend that much on myself. I still do love the thrill of a sale or the thrill of a hunt on a vintage rack, so every once in a while when I’m traveling or in the mood for some serious retail therapy, I still purchase things. But overall, I don’t do that much shopping. If anything, I buy one thing a month, tops. I really try not to accumulate more than 10 pieces a year.”
The challenge also inspired Swennen to do a clean-out of her closet. “I did do a nice edit, which I always find to be rejuvenating. What ends up happening is you sort of see what you don’t want anymore, you see what fits or what is definitely going to stay in your goal pile. For me, it was really nice because I got to organize my fall versus my spring stuff, and do a little tweak. I also did end up giving away a bunch of stuff.”
The three-month span also happened to coincide with Hollywood’s dual strikes, which have had a devastating impact on the industry, including stylists. “I’ve been very affected along with every other red carpet stylist, and we’ve been the hard-hit on the sidelines, where basically none of us have been working. So in order to do this, it was actually helpful because obviously, I don’t have many hard-earned dollars coming in right now because there’s no work available to us. It made sense for me financially as well, but obviously, just as an initiative for me and the way I sort of liked to champion sustainability, I think it was a great thing.”
She now encourages anyone interested to give it a go. “Pay it forward. Try it, and if you can’t go that long, try it for a month. Just think about it.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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