Clare Press is a woman on a mission as she desires to educate her forward-thinking audience in The Wardrobe Crisis, a podcast focused on sustainable fashion and the harsh realities of textile waste in Australia. As an author and journalist, Clare’s storytelling and passionate views herald her as a reliable fashion insider, having previously worked at Oyster and Harper’s Bazaar as well as working with inspiring women such as Jackie Frank and Edwina McCann.
Describe your current role?
I am a writer and podcaster.The Wardrobe Crisis podcast is based on my book of the same name, which came out in Australia last year and will be published in the USA and China in 2018. The podcast looks at how the fashion system works. My guests include designers, retailers, models, scientists, academics and industry insiders, and we discuss ethics, sustainability, design, creativity, and the business and madness of fashion! I’m also Marie Claire Australia’s fashion editor-at-large, and write the ‘Sustainable Style’ column for Daily Life.
What inspired you to be an advocate for responsible fashion?
I’ve always cared about how clothing and accessories are designed and made. Looking at how these processes have changed as the global fashion system has evolved was the obvious next step. I care about people and planet but I also love fabulous clothes. My work these days is about finding balance between those two things.
How can we, as fashion fans, make more sustainable choices?
Australia has a fashion waste problem, each year we send 500K tonnes of textiles and leather to landfill. So firstly, don’t mindlessly buy fast fashion that’s designed to fall apart after a few wears! I’m a big believer in investment pieces and buying things to last. I am still wearing pieces I bought from Parlour X fifteen years ago.
When a garment does reach the end of its usefulness to you, say you grow out of it, or get bored of it, think about how you dispose of it. Can you pass it on to someone to extend its life and save it from landfill?
Another big one is to be more mindful about how you care for your clothes. Washing on a cool cycle, for example, uses less energy, while line-drying is much better than the tumble dryer. Make friends with your local alterations service. Learn how to do simple mends, like sewing on buttons and fixing broken stitches.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Books. I was one of those kids who read by torchlight under the blankets. I’m a Gemini, and Geminis are garrulous storytellers.
What are you reading right now?
Les Parisiennes, by Anne Sebba.
Was writing your initial chosen career path?
Yes. I went through all the clichéd phases in wanting to be Sylvia Plath as a gloomy teenager and then Nancy Mitford and all that. I tried to write my first ‘novel’ aged eight. I am still trying. I’ve worked in magazines for many years, but I also had a stint as a fashion designer; I had a shop in Sydney. I am now throwing all my energy at advancing the responsible fashion conversation. But, I always come back to writing, that has been my career constant. I love words. I’m currently writing my third non-fiction book.
Tell us about your background. How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my lucky break at Rolling Stone then went to work for Oyster. I freelanced for Harper’s Bazaar and The Australian and spent many years as a features director at Australian Vogue. I’ve been lucky to work for and with some incredible, inspiring women including Edwina McCann, Jane Roarty, Gene Sherman, Julie Gibbs and Jackie Frank.
As a published author, what advice would you give to young people looking to become writers?
Read constantly, and work on developing the writing habit. It doesn’t matter if no one sees it. The act of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, every day is habit-forming. That’s what you want, you want it to flow.
Who have been your most interesting interview subjects?
During my career in magazines I have interviewed everyone from Beyoncé and Pharrell to Cate Blanchett, but honestly, every new subject is my favourite. They don’t have to be famous, just creative thinkers and passionate about what they do. I am very inspired by my podcast guests. It was a great privilege to interview human rights advocate Kalpona Akter, a former child worker who is now a leading figure in the Bangladeshi garment workers’ union scene.
If you had to begin your career again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. We learn from our mistakes.
As someone who wears many fashion hats; author, editor, journalist, presenter, public speaker, advocate of sustainable fashion, what vocation do you identify with most?
Different things on different days, but I would say writer has been the constant.
What are your interests outside of fashion?
Cats on Instagram!
What are your regular print and digital reads?
What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
Reinvention. Change is good but it’s also difficult.
The most rewarding?
Using my voice to try to make positive change in an industry I love.
What’s next for you, Clare?
Taking Wardrobe Crisis to America!
You can find Clare on Instagram @mrspress