October 30, 2019
Meet the influencer Signe Hansen
Die junge dänische Bloggerin Signe Hansen gehört zu meinen frühesten Inspirationsquellen, was nachhaltige Mode betrifft. Sie erarbeitete sich ihren nachhaltigen Lebensstil Schritt für Schritt, macht vor wie es gehen kann, ohne dogmatisch zu werden. Ihre angenehme Art und ihre Fähigkeit mit weniger viel zu machen, hat ihr eine beachtliche Community beschert.
Signe, your path to becoming an influencer for sustainable fashion and a more sustainable lifestyle went step by step. What made you decide to focus more on the topic?
I worked as a designer in the commercial fashion industry for a couple of years, and for a long time I thought that was what I wanted. But I never fully settled in. Slowly I found out that it was exhausting to me, to not only have to design new things based on new trends all the time, but I also slowly started realizing how much damage the industry is doing on people and the planet. Somewhere in the middle of it all I also realized, that I was spending way too much money and time on buying new clothing I hardly wore – and still, I felt like I had nothing to wear and like I never looked good enough despite buying new things all the time. I wanted to stop doing that, I wanted to nail my wardrobe and stick to what made me feel good about myself once and for all. I wanted to step out of the “hamster wheel” of the fashion industry.
How would you sum up your core message?
While my main focus has been on sustainable and lasting style for a really long time, getting into the field of sustainability has of course meant that my interest for that has spread to other areas of my life. So, I’d say my message is about how to get most wear out of your wardrobe without getting bored but also how to live a happy, simple life that is aligned with your values.
A lot of influencers aren’t very much more than advertising channels for big brands. How do you approach this?
I don’t want to come off like I’m better than others, but for me it’s all an art of limitation. I turn down many offers, and I try to stick with brands and services that have sustainability as a core value in some way or the other. Also, as a principle for me, I generally say no thanks to ‘free’ gifts. Mostly because I don’t want my home to be overflown with things I don’t need or will not use, but also because I don’t think doing businesses based upon free stuff is a very fair deal. My work is worth more than that. It’s all a balance, because of course I also want to be able to try out new brands and products that I love and that I simply want to help spread the message about.
If someone wants to start changing his attitude to clothes, reorganizing her wardrobe, what would you advise?
I don’t think there’s one right answer to this, because we are all different. But I would say that one of the most important steps is to define what is and what isn’t working in your wardrobe right now. What are the mistakes you keep making? How do you generally feel about the way you look? What kind of looks do you feel best in, and what kind of style inspiration are you always drawn to? It’s about getting to the root of what is right for you. Sustainable and lasting style is all about dressing for your life, and getting most wear out of what you have all while feeling your best every day.
I recently did an interview with Daria Andronescu and talked with her about her “Wonder Wardrobe” system. How do you approach your capsule wardrobe system?
Capsule wardrobes have become kind of a buzzword and I agree with Daria that it’s not always the right solution for all people. For me, it feels right because I love having a curated wardrobe with limited options I want to wear over and over again, that never lets me down, but at the same time I am “free” to play around with things here and there. I’ve tweaked my approach ever so slightly over the years, so that now the biggest part of my wardrobe is static and hardly ever changes, but there’s still a little room for being playful. That’s great for me, because I don’t like to follow too many style “rules” and also, life isn’t static so your wardrobe shouldn’t have to be either. To me the capsule wardrobe system is a simple, easy-understandable way of structuring your wardrobe and it’s a good place to start if you want to become a better consumer. It’s meant to help you define your style by looking at your life, all while challenging you to use what you have instead of buying new things all the time. And then when you do buy something new, it’s about buying less but better.
How do you feel about trends?
I think trends should be enjoyed carefully. I always say that trends go round and round, so if you really love being “on trend” make sure you invest in items that are sort of safe. You can store away this “trend” if you get tired of it and then it will come back round at some point. Otherwise, I always tell people to go on a thrift hunt if they are looking for certain trends. In terms of sustainability I think the worst thing you could do is to support the fast fashion chains, that bring out new trendy items every week. These items are designed to go off trend extremely fast, which will in the end make you look at these items as disposable after only a couple times of wear. Some examples on “lasting” trends could be brown jumpers for autumn, sequins tops for the festive season or floral prints for the summer time. These are trends we see every year, that you can easily store away and bring out for many more seasons. The way I try to incorporate trends, or items that fit the season as I prefer to call them, is by dividing my wardrobe in roughly 80% static basics, that stay the same all through the year and fit all seasons and occasions and then 20% season/trend based items that I either bring out from storage, shop secondhand or shop from ethical brands. This way I keep my wardrobe fresh, playful and inspiring, without it taking over my love for simple, Scandinavian and timeless style.
Recently you also set up a secondhand online store. What role does secondhand play in the context of sustainability, what role does it play for you?
There are so many gems in the thrift stores, just waiting to be discovered, and if you don’t like limiting yourself with capsule wardrobes or style rules, thrift hunting and swapping clothes are a perfect solution for you. The world doesn’t really need more new clothes, so it’s all about using what we already have out there. That can be challenging for many people, and quite overwhelming too. So I wanted to offer a curated secondhand shop, instead of designing my own clothing collection. I look for items in a certain style instead, similar to my own capsule wardrobe it’s mostly long lasting, good basics, but I do find some more trendy items to keep things fresh too, so that people know what kind of style to expect when they visit my store. I hope that will make the secondhand choice a little easier for people. My online store is still rather new, but my dream is to open a physical store one day, filled with these handpicked, secondhand gems and then also offer sustainable beauty products, jewelry and ethically made clothing alongside. My own approach to shop for clothes in general is actually “secondhand first”. So, I will always see if I can find what I’m looking for preloved, before buying anything. And often I can.
Sustainability has become the most important innovation driver in the fashion industry. Is the industry changing fast enough?
I think it’s hard to convince brands who have a wealthy business model to change, and that’s the biggest problem with the fashion industry as it is right now, I would say. Also, it’s not all about the industry itself. We as consumers have also been brought up to support the industry as it is right now, so we also need to change. So I guess my answer is both the industry itself and we as consumers need to take more action and move a little quicker than we are.
Your next steps?
I’m gonna continue making online content for as long as it’s possible and for as long as people are willing to listen to me. I am working on long term projects on the side too though, because you never know how long you can keep calling yourself an “influencer”, right? My love for designing has never disappeared so today I have my own, ethically made jewelry brand too. All pieces are ethically made-to-order in Germany and the collection is designed with a high quality mix & match approach, a lot of it from recycled materials too, so you can create new, inspiring combos everyday with the pieces you choose to invest in. All while working on that, I’m also working on my secondhand store so it’s hard to say what the future beholds for me. I try to just enjoy the opportunities life throws me and I feel so grateful that I’m able to do what I love the most every single day.
Photo: Signe Hansen