Monday, June 27, 2022

Fashion and Sustainability: Interview with Aitana Cardoso

Image of Aitana Cardoso
Aitana Cardoso

Aitana Cardoso is a Spanish-Mexican creative director, author, and activist based in Los Angeles. In 2019, she founded Tori Digital: a marketing, web development, and talent agency with her business partner Devin Fox. She’s partnered with some incredible nonprofits such as Bye Bye Plastic, No Res Gourmet, and Alexandria House. With only 26 years under her sleeve, we can’t wait to see her future endeavors.

Links to the projects and organizations Aitana Cardoso works with:

Bye Bye Plastic

No Res Gourmet

Q: What is the most environmentally or socially positive project you have ever worked on? 

A: Last year I was one of the faces of Wolven Threads and they opened my eyes to the importance of incorporating sustainable practices in fashion. Now more than ever we have to put our little grain of salt in efforts to reduce our footprint. Kiran, Will, and the team showed me that our day-to-day decisions have a lasting effect on major resolutions.

This year I also partnered with Firas Ayyad, the founder of No Res Gourmet, a nonprofit organization that distributes locally sourced, home-cooked meals to the homeless community in LA. Our goal is 20,000 three-course gourmet meals by the end of the year. I’m also working and learning from one of my favorite people Vivian Bakos aka BLOND:ISH, the founder of Bye Bye Plastic, a foundation whose goal is to remove single-use plastics from the music industry by 2025. It’s so dope to see her use the power of music, the strongest social connector, to create long-lasting positive ripple effects in her industry. 

Do you think the future of apparel is sustainable? Why?

I think we have the power to create our future. The first step for me was an awareness of how wasteful we had become in terms of how disconnected we are from the realities behind the fashion and food industry. Being an artist based in LA I struggle to find the balance between fulfilling my work while still remaining true to my values. Nevertheless, I want to be a living embodiment of what I teach, so I’m actively pursuing a path where I can do the work without compromising my morals.

Tell us about the last thing you bought which would be considered socially or environmentally sustainable. Why did you purchase it? 

I don’t really shop for clothes but I’ve been working on being more selective on collaborating with more ethically sourced brands. I don’t think there is any 100% eco-friendly clothing, when it comes to fashion there is always going to be an impact whether it’s in production, shipping, or manufacturing. But there are obviously brands directly working to help make a difference and you can see it in the quality of the clothing and in the price. If you are going to shop, spend a little more on something that you really want and is going to last you rather than buying cheaper items that would wear off and will have to be replaced sooner than later.

If you could make one change in the fashion industry, to make it better, what would that be? 

I think most clothing in the fashion industry is not made for long-term use much less is it “sustainable” or “ethically” made. That’s why it’s so important for brands leading and paving the way in the industry to take into account the full lifecycle of the product they are selling. Whether it is the design, sourcing, or even production process and the workers, it important to take a look at how our choices are affecting others and most importantly the planet.

Are you concerned about the social, environmental, and ethical impacts the fashion industry has on the world? 

I am but I think we always have a choice and we have a say in what we eat, what we buy and what we promote. It’s important for me to educate myself and others on the damages that we are doing to the environment. There are ways you can actively create less waste. We don’t need more things, we just need to take better care of the ones we already have and make products useful again. The cycle of buy, throw away, buy again is sad and selfish. There are choices we can implement in our life, we know them already. Within those actions, little by little, we start shifting from a consumer perspective to an active participant in bettering the course of the planet. 

How can we make fashion more sustainable?

Big fashion brands can look at the supply chains to see how they can cut back the ginormous amount of water usage. We can try to stay away from dangerous chemicals like dyes, pesticides, and finishes. Dyes and chemicals end up in near-by community water sources the same way that the plastic you buy ends up in the ocean and in the belly of the fishes. Every time we do our laundry, our clothes shed tiny microfibers that get washed down the drain and into the sea. Next time you have the impulse to buy something ask yourself do I really need that item or can I use the things I have longer or exchange it within my community? Swap some of the items in your closet with your girlfriends and vice versa and my favorite: vintage stores. You’ll be surprised how good our parents used to dress back in the day. Lastly, even if its a little more expensive it’ll last you so much longer. By choosing brands that use organic materials (cotton, linen, hemp, satin) you are protecting public waterways, our wildlife, and our reefs from hosts of harmful materials and chemicals.