I met Lisa Marie Armstrong at one of the By Adushka parties and I immediately fell for her personal story, her style metamorphosis and fashionista evolution. I was attracted by her honesty, her reflections and depth of insider knowledge in the fashion industry. Her passion for true change in women’s mindset and shopping habits was and still is contagious.
Based on her own past shopaholic habits and the many years of experience in fashion, Lisa started to nurture an awareness and responsibility towards the environment and the way fashion affects our planet and people’s lives around the world.
Working in retail for a while gave Lisa an invaluable insight into women’s patterns of shopping behaviour, the self-talk, the feeling of immediate reward and the desire to escape, that makes women buy more and mindlessly most of the time.
One day Lisa opened her wardrobe and had a complete meltdown, facing shelves of clothes, shoes and bags which she didn’t actually wear. Some clothes didn’t fit her, others just didn’t feel like her any more.
It made her think not only of all the money she had spent, but also of her own appreciation and love for clothes. She started asking herself why did she buy those clothes, why she didn’t have anything to wear, why this clothes didn’t make her feel good, but on the contrary. What did she love about fashion and what will happen to all of that staff that she wanted to get rid of.
Once Lisa Marie had this lightbulb moment, there was no going back.
Today I am meeting her to discuss the upcoming launch of her Sustainable Academy and what sustainability means to her.
Tsitaliya: Lisa welcome, let’s start with the question what made you launch the Sustainable Style Academy?
Lisa Marie Armstrong: I decided to launch the Sustainable Style Academy because I want to help people gain control over their closets and their shopping habits. I’ve been in countless closets and every single time we’re clearing out over 50% of the contents. It’s unbelievable how much people buy and don’t wear. And this takes a big toll on our planet. Because 70% of the things that people throw into the clothing collections bins or give away to donations ends up in the landfill.
People hate hearing that. It’s the unfortunate truth. The problem isn’t the closet. It’s the shopping habit.
Tsitaliya: What is the most common misconception about sustainable fashion?
Lisa Marie: There’s this disconnect between the person and the clothing. People have this insatiable addiction to instant gratification and clothing is one of the ways that people get it. Then they get it home, wear it once, and sort it out. The consumer doesn’t even know how their things were made or what happens to them when they don’t want them anymore. They need to know. That’s why I’m here: to bring the reality check and new awareness as to what their clothing actually is.
But when we talk about ‘sustainable fashion’ there’s this common misconception that we’re wearing boring, beige, formless clothing and hand-me-downs and this just isn’t the case. Sustainable style is a mindset: the mindset of truly loving the things that we have. It’s taking careful consideration about the things we choose to bring into our closets and respecting ourselves enough to only add things that truly suit us and that we want to wear.
Tsitaliya: How do we start changing our habits and get that “escapism” feeling that fashion so often plays with?
Lisa Marie: We have to stop the weekly visits to the shops and choose different forms of entertainment that don’t require tempting ourselves to buy things. And just because something is ‘more sustainable’ doesn’t mean we should buy a ton of it. For example, I would rather spend a lot more time in my own closet creating new looks than spending money randomly in a store. It took awhile for me to change this habit, but it works great now. And when I actually do decide that I need something to augment my style or replace a staple, then I research it thoroughly before buying. I take a lot more time to think about these things rather than making the spontaneous purchase, like I used to.
Tsitaliya: What are your favourite vintage places for shopping in Switzerland?
Lisa Marie: My favourite vintage places in Switzerland are right here in my area. The Seedamm Brocki in Altendorf, SZ. I found my priceless silk kimono made of red Shibori fabric and my vintage crocodile briefcase there. Fashion Corner in Wollerau- where I discovered my limited edition Ferragamo bag and Chanel tassle earrings. And then there’s the outdoor vintage market in Zurich…a dream to start the hunt for a special something. I’m also a big fan of the online platform Resee and Vestiaire Collective.
Tsitaliya: What was your last purchase?
Lisa Marie: My last purchase was a pair of Gucci Marmont leather heels in cream, embroidered with bees and stars. I bought them on Vestiaire Collective…they had never even been worn. And they work with EVERYTHING in my closet.