Our focus for 2021 was to encourage everyone to #BeAChangeMaker. Whether these are small changes in our everyday lives or seismic shifts, our individual actions are paramount to a safer, kinder planet.
This week, we sat down with Florence Huntington-Whiteley, model and sustainable fashion consultant (CogDis Studio) to discuss gender stereotypes, finding your style and the need for change within the fashion industry.
1. Tell us about your style and how have you developed your own sense of individuality?
A couple years ago I started a journey to get back in touch with myself, I felt my growth was stunted and realised it was down to rules and restrictions I had self imposed. So I started by returning to a style more reflective of my childhood (before societies standards influenced me) and a feeling I had of who I actually was, one without binaries attached to clothing, gender or queer stereotypes and one grounded in my comfort and confidence. Charity shops were a heaven for me and I found it much easier to build outfits because there was more choice and freedom to express unbound to current trends.
2. How has not conforming to gender stereotypes affected your own career path and the brands you have chosen to work with?
It’s been the compass in my career and has definitely helped carved out my path; when I look at pictures of myself now, it’s clear that I’m able to show my true self because I’ve started to get to know myself, something I doubt would have happened had I pursued modelling younger. I aim to challenge the traditional narrative of what it looks like and means to be a female model, and this guides the brands I work with so it’s been the only way! It’s important I work jobs that are meaningful and make sense for me rather than taking up space where others could be shining in their own light. It doesn’t come without its wardrobe challenges though! Not fitting in to clothes on set is a common theme and one that causes anxiety but I’m SUPER thankful to all my agents, the brands and casting agents that do that extra layer of thinking and consideration.
3. What norms do you feel need breaking in the current fashion mould?
Pffft where do we start!!! I think it’s a whole new way of thinking and therefore systems change which is what we do through CogDis as a creative ethics consultancy. I would love to see more real and honest collaboration, not just an exchange of labels but deep critical thinking that challenges us to work from a place of values and ethics over profit and popularity. We can still do good things and look beautiful at the same time and this kind of alignment needs to come to the forefront. I’d like to dismantle the idea that you have to be a b**** in this industry to get somewhere, it’s so boring and needs to die! Oh and also the pace of the industry, please let’s slow down and give things the journey they truly need to make impact.
4. What does sustainability mean to you and what inspired you to start a creative ethics consultancy?
As much as the word has lost its meaning, to me sustainability means balance. CogDis came about due to a shared feeling of cognitive dissonance and frustration by all founders at our current jobs and businesses. All three of us came together to further engage the industries conversation around ethics and sustainability because honestly we struggled doing it from the inside out and on our own, we knew we could do it better together. We all have personal expertise and purpose in different areas so collectively our mission is to align internal purpose with external output with a human first approach, basically having people operate from a level where personal values and professional actions are aligned.
5. What role does sustainability play in your day to day life?
It’s about choices really. And realising that doing something sustainably isn’t always the easiest and often that comes with some self reflection. Sustainability holds a mirror up and questions my values and privilege. It’s taught me it’s a journey, one which will constantly challenge but in order to move forward you need to be open, listen and lead with love and intention.
6. What is making you feel optimistic at this time?
My life!!! I’m living it!!!