Meet Eco Stylist Nina Gbor
Fashion Stylist Nina Gbor, is an eco-stylist and slow fashion advocate, has lectured at universities, acted as a consultant to the ABC’s War on Waste, and is currently Director – Circular Economy & Waste at The Australia Institute. A fierce advocate for slow and sustainable fashion, we asked Nina about how to dress sustainably and changes she’d like to see in the fashion industry and beyond.
You’ve been a sustainable fashion educator and stylist for over 12 years. That’s longer than most. What changes in interest are you seeing in styling for sustainability?
Fashion brands, councils, influencers, media and even schools have all been getting in on the sustainable style bandwagon and it’s been beautiful to witness this process. Brands are offering resale platforms for their customers to resell and buy their items secondhand, councils across the country are running sustainable styling workshops with educators like me and there are so many new sustainable style fashionistas popping up on socials every day. The idea of styling in ways that reduce fashion waste and point to a more sustainable fashion future is no longer a new idea in most of mainstream culture.
What basic advice would you give to someone who wants to start on their sustainable fashion journey. Where to start?
Start by shopping you wardrobe. Instead of going out to buy new ‘sustainable’ items, try restyling your wardrobe. Come up with different ways you can wear one garment in multiple ways through layering and accessorising. This way you won’t need to buy a new outfit when you have an event or when you’re just bored with your wardrobe. For a fresh perspective, have a few friends over to restyle your wardrobe. Take photos of each look so you have a reminder. When you need to buy something new, shop with sustainable brands, local brands, small businesses and absolutely seek out secondhand fashion from op shops, clothes swaps, markets, depop and other online platforms. Also donate, sell and swap the items you no longer want. Remember to love and repair your items too.
Describe your personal style.
Super dramatic, eclectic, colourful, vintage style.
What garment have you re-styled and worn the most?
My retro pink Japanese kimono. Yes, it’s my favourite. I’ve worn it 6 different ways you can see here and here. Sometimes I’ve worn it as a top with a tulle maxi skirt. Other times I’ve worn it casually with a retro tee, jeans and sneakers. I’ve also Also worn it with a gold jumpsuit and lots of jewellery just to be extra. And for winter I styled it with a vintage fur stole from the 1950s.
Tell us about your involvement in the War on Waste with Craig Reucassel.
War On Waste was a great project to work on. I’ve been a fan of the series since the first season and it was such a fantastic opportunity to work with the team and see how the sausage gets made. Jodi Boylan, the executive producer and director is an absolute genius. Watching the way she works, and how hard she and the rest of the production team work, it’s not surprising the series has been so massively impactful. I enjoyed the experience and grateful I got to be a part of it.
In a recent webinar, I was talking to Craig about op shopping and his personal style because I wanted to share the perspective of op shopping from a man. Op shopping is often discussed and directed at women. It’s nice to show that others can op shop too and get joy out of it.
If you could improve the clothing/waste crisis overnight, what would you do?
No one would be allowed to export, incinerate or send secondhand or unused clothing to landfill. Then we would be directly confronted with the magnitude of our waste crisis and forced to deal with it head on. Kind of like when China stopped taking our recycling and then several years later, Redcycle went bust. It might force us to rapidly create more holistic, circular and sustainable fashion systems. Just like we were suddenly hit with the pandemic in 2020 and we had no other option but to instantly change every aspect of our lives – the way we worked, family, relationships, etc. We adapted. Not that I think it was an ideal situation at all. I hope times like that never happen again. However, we can take the lesson from that experience that we have the capability to adapt to big changes very quickly if we need or want to.
What do you say about the current state of fashion as “disposable”?
We have a disposable, throwaway fashion culture. I coined the phrase the fashion TRENDmill back in 2016 to describe this take-make-waste throwaway, linear system we have in fashion that has been damaging the planet while exploiting garment workers. Fashion used to only have 4 seasons many years ago. Everything used to be based on the latest fashion trends. Fast fashion came along and put fashion trends on steroids! Then we got like 110 trend cycles a year and now we have micro trends, TikTok is doing it’s own thing too. We need to get off this fashion TRENDmill or treadmill that’s fuelling massive overconsumption.
Now with Shein and ultra fast fashion we’re heading to a place of super sonic fast fashion. This is our normal mindset. It can change, but it wont be easy. The change can come from the influence of influencers and celebrities who often promote overconsumption and fast fashion. This will be hard because they make a living from promoting this.
Alternatively, if majority of people and fashionistas in the world develop an highly independent mindset where they personally decide to drastically limit or end the excessive fast fashion habit then we would experience a collective, mainstream mindset shift. To be honest, with the way these fast fashion companies have multi-million dollar budgets to advertise and market their products, I can’t see this happening without some kind of intervention such as legislation that forces big fashion brands to change their ways. If they did, then naturally, the mindset of buyers would change.
What changes to legislation would you like to see with regard to the Australian fashion industry?
Degrowth in fashion. Drastically scaling back the amount of clothes manufactured and imported (perhaps indirectly through levies and taxes), and reducing synthetic materials used in fashion. We also somehow need a reduction online shopping which is how a big portion of fast fashion enters the country. The scaling back of fashion need to be done in safe, just and equitable ways.
To give context on our overconsumption, about 150 billion garments are manufactured each year with around 87% being incinerated or ending up in landfill every year. In Australia, the average person buys about 56 brand new garments a year or almost 15kg. About 10kg of that ends up in landfill.
Like this post? Then you’ll also want to see: Meet the Sustainable Fashion Stylist Jenna Flood