A-list star stylist Tara Swennen — whose clients include Kristen Stewart, Ali Wong and Sarah Michelle Gellar — recently teamed up with fashion nonprofit Remake during a three-month break from shopping as a way to spotlight sustainability to bring.
The June 1-Sept. The first initiative focused on “pausing the purchase of new clothes and taking the time to think about potential overconsumption – looking at your closet as a way to reduce your carbon footprint – reusing items and providing support services such as support a tailor or second-hand shops.” Swennen passed with flying colors.
“I was absolutely unable to make any purchases,” said the stylist. “It felt very good. The challenge itself offers space to just try and think about how you buy and what you buy, whether it’s sustainable brands for yourself or as a gift, supporting vintage or second-hand businesses, and of course supporting up-cycling fashion brands all over the world. I think three months is very doable for most people.”
However, Swennen is quick to admit that someone in her position is very fortunate because she receives gifts from good friends who happen to be famous designers. “I actually don’t need to spend that much on myself. I still love the thrill of a sale or the hunt for a vintage rack, so when I’m traveling or in the mood for some serious retail therapy, I still buy things every now and then. But in general I don’t do much shopping. If anything, I buy one thing a month, tops. I really try not to collect more than 10 pieces per year.”
The challenge also inspired Swennen to clean out her closet. “I did a nice edit, which I always find rejuvenating. What ends up happening is that you see what you don’t want anymore, you see what fits or what will definitely stay in your goal pile. For me it was a lot of fun because I got to organize my fall versus spring stuff and make a little adjustment. I also ended up giving a lot of things away.’
The three-month period also happened to coincide with the twin strikes in Hollywood, which have had a devastating impact on the industry, including stylists. “I’ve been really affected by it, as has every other red carpet stylist, and we’ve been hardest hit on the sidelines, where none of us have actually worked. To be able to do this, it was actually helpful because obviously there’s not a lot of hard-earned dollars coming in right now because there’s no work available for us. It also made financial sense for me, but obviously, as an initiative for me and the way I liked to advocate for sustainability, I thought it was a great thing.”
She now encourages anyone interested to give it a try. “Pay it forward. Try it, and if you can’t last that long, try it for a month. Just think about it.”
A version of this story first appeared in the September 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.