Natalia Vodianova on fashion, sustainability and giving back
Model, philanthropist and all-round amazing woman, it's no wonder Russian-born stunner Natalia Vodianova has earned the nickname 'Supernova'. Breathtakingly beautiful (and yes, she's had four kids) and wholeheartedly committed to her own charity The Naked Heart Foundation, she's also committed to worthy causes like sustainability in fashion.
Here, she with H&M about being the face of the brand's newly launched Conscious Exclusive collection.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is so important, and it's something we all have to address today. It's the responsibility of every modern, forward-thinking person who is aware of their surroundings and who is able to influence the world. And I mean everybody, from those who rule countries to consumers who have the power of what they buy. Anybody who goes shopping should be thinking about sustainability.
What about sustainable style?
It's both about what you buy and the way that you buy it as well as how you wear it. Always look at the label to see if a garment is made from sustainable materials, and don't be scared to ask questions. I've started to buy less, only getting something new when I really need it, and wearing pieces for longer. I also recycle and reuse garments, particularly for my kids. My baby is now wearing something my first son wore. It's adorable and cute, and it's also sustainable.
What does it mean for you to be the face of the new H&M Conscious Exclusive campaign?
I am so happy that they asked me, because the idea of consciousness is very close to me. I started my Naked Heart Foundation 12 years ago, and I spend the large proportion of my life giving back. I've always wanted to work with H&M, because they are such trailblazers in the industry, especially with their pioneering work in sustainability.
What were you excited to discover about the fabrics and materials used in Conscious Exclusive?
What I love about the project is H&M's commitment to sustainability. They have spent so much time working with their factories and suppliers to develop more sustainable fabrics. It's amazing that they use fabrics like BIONIC® made from recovered plastic from shorelines, waterways and coastal communities and turn it into something beautiful. It is also fantastic that H&M don't keep this to themselves. They want their suppliers to share this knowledge with everyone in the fashion industry, inspiring other brands to follow their path to sustainability.
Which is your favourite piece from the Conscious Exclusive collection?
I am in love with the beautiful pleated evening gown made from recycled shoreline waste (above). The fabric is so soft and fluid, and it feels so special to wear. It's a gorgeous dress, and it's incredible to think that it is made from plastic bottles and other waste from the shore. It's a dress I'm looking forward so much to wearing during spring and summer.
What do you think about H&M's conscious efforts and commitments to sustainability?
H&M's sustainable actions are really inspiring. They have made bold and impressive commitments to sustainable goals, and they are determined to meet them. One of the most impressive is their commitment to only be using sustainable cotton by 2020 and also their vision to only use recycled or sustainably sourced materials. The Conscious Exclusive collection is about very special pieces, but all year round H&M is moving towards more sustainability for everyone and you can always find sustainable products in H&M's stores.
How do you think people should make sustainability part of their lives?
There is so much that we can all do in our everyday lives. I definitely try to do my bit as much as possible, whether it's turning off the tap when I'm brushing my teeth or having a shower instead of a bath, trying to buy organic food and also making sure that food packaging is sustainable. I've learned so much about sustainability from being in the Conscious Exclusive campaign, and I think it's important to always be ready to learn more about what we can all do.
Do you have any sustainable style tips?
Sustainability in fashion is not just about the design and production of the clothes: it's also about our actions once we have bought them. Try to wash your clothes less, and when you do so, do it at a lower temperature. Whenever possible, hang clothes to dry, instead of tumble drying. Wear your clothes for as long as possible, and when you are finished with them, recycle. Never throw them away, even if they are worn and old - they can be made into something new.
How do you use your position as a global icon to give back and promote worthy causes?
Twelve years ago, I launched the Naked Heart Foundation to give children a safe place to play in urban environments in Russia. Since then, we have built 177 playgrounds, and have also started another programme to build support systems for children with special needs and their families. It's everything from organizing forums and financing summer camps to training school teachers how to work with children with special needs.
Then I began thinking about my experiences in charity, and how we could make this more global. In 2015, I launched an app, Elbi, that lets people make instant donations to charities, because more giving should take place online. To me, giving back is the most important part of my work, and something that I hope will define my career.
H&M's Conscious Exclusive 2017 collection launches globally from April 20.
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