Green Is the New Black: Ethical Fashion Models in Modelling Agencies

As more and more mainstream fashion brands ramp up their green credentials, we at Talent Management are watching a growing number of models turning towards more ethical living practices. Many of those who want to become a model with fashion modelling agencies might feel that in order to be a true success, it’s necessary to fit in with what the modeling and fashion industry wants.

This could mean putting your own principles on the back burner, and keeping your personal beliefs separate from your professional life. The current crop of eco-models, however, show that it’s possible to enjoy great success while still working towards sustainability and taking a more ethical approach.

Summer Rayne Oakes

American Summer Rayne Oakes might already have the perfect name for an eco model, but she takes it much further than this. Her love of all things “green” goes back a long way, and she was determined not to compromise her beliefs when she began modelling. She vets potential clients before signing up to model their brands, and takes care to only work with ethical businesses who share her outlook and quest for sustainability. Known for working with eco brands such as TOMS, Summer has even written a book about combining style with ethics and practicality. She lives her life according to her beliefs, shopping for locally produced food, and walking rather than driving. Proof that it’s perfectly possible to look great and live a fashionable life without compromising on your ethical beliefs, Summer is constantly striving to spread the word about sustainability.

Nerida Lennon

Australia-based Nerida Lennon has a strong academic background in social and environmental studies and currently writes for a range of publications on issues of sustainability. Her childhood instilled in her the importance of living a green lifestyle and she grew up in an eco-friendly home. Modelling since she was 17, Nerida has worked with some of the world’s biggest and best-known fashion brands. After travelling the world working with glamorous clients such as Dior and Gucci, she decided to retire from traditional modelling and concentrate on a specifically eco-friendly branch of the industry. She now only represents brands whose ethos more closely matches her own. Nerida focuses on promoting businesses which are socially and environmentally responsible, proving that it is possible to be a successful model without abandoning your principles. She uses only organic, ethically produced products, and eats a diet of organic local food.

Emily Kate Symes

Australian Emily Kate Symes is a successful fashion model turned entrepreneur, and is the brains behind the EKOLUV website. Straddling the divide between fashion and ethical living, the website has a host of passionate devotees. Although Emily enjoyed her days in mainstream modelling, she quickly started to feel disillusioned with all the waste and over-consumption that took place on a widespread scale. Seeing clothes designed to be disposable and to be replaced by the next season’s trends after a couple of months didn’t sit well with her, and she started to think about the possibility of more sustainable fashion. Finding out about where and how mass-produced fashion brand clothes were made, Emily found herself drawn to a life of environmental, social and animal rights activism. EKOLUV offers sustainable and ethical fashion and accessories. Through the brand, Emily hopes to change the general public’s perception of what eco-fashion really is. The clothes sold on the site include timeless classics and tailored pieces that wouldn’t look out of place on a designer’s runway, and Emily has plans to expand in the near future.

Modelling Agencies and Ethical Fashion Brands

It’s not just individuals in the fashion industry who are trying to work towards a more sustainable world, modeling agencies are at work as well. Many mainstream fashion brands also have strong eco-credentials. The green fashion industry has seen explosive growth in recent years. People Tree is one of the largest names in the eco-fashion field, and has attracted a host of celebrity fans, including Emma Watson, who collaborates with the brand on her own design collection. People Tree’s fair trade and ethical credentials are second to none, and the brand’s fashion-forward designs are regularly featured in mainstream fashion magazines.

Ethical footwear is also a growing industry, with brands such as Beyond Skin committed to producing fashionable, sustainable footwear. All of the label’s footwear is vegan and is manufactured in Spain. The brand strives to reduce its carbon footprint and uses only eco-friendly materials in its designs. With further brands such as Eileen Fisher, Beaumont Organic and Stella McCartney committed to enhancing their eco-credentials, the fashion landscape is looking greener than ever.