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The Climate Crisis is Hot, But Shopping Your Wardrobe is Even Hotter

January 1 | 3 minute read

Memo Lucianne Tonti Interview Hero 16x9

Words by Ruby Devlin

Originally published on | April 23

In early 2020, after hearing a speech made by the Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation at global luxury conglomerate Kering, Lucianne Tonti had an epiphany.

The Fashion Sustainability Consultant was living and working in Paris, and “had left Australia in the middle of everything being on fire – it was a really traumatising time,” she says of the devastating 2020 bushfires. “This idea that we could bring landscapes back to life was like, ‘OK, this makes me feel good and this is something that I want to pursue more.’”

So, after more than a decade in the fashion industry – working first in sales and communications before focusing on sustainability – Tonti followed that thread and switched to journalism: “I started doing more research and more writing and had a total career change,” she tells us.

Now Fashion Editor at The Saturday Paper and a regular contributor to The Guardian, Tonti is on a mission to fight fashion’s growing sustainability crisis. In 2022 she released her debut book, titled Sundressed, which aims to educate people on how garments are made and why we need to get to know our clothes better.

“It's about flipping from an industry where we're mitigating harm to one that's actively doing good. A big part of that is regenerative farming, natural fibres and also wearing and loving the clothes you have,” she explains.

As Tonti writes in Sundressed, “The latest reports suggest fashion is responsible for 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, although some estimates place it as high as 10 percent.” This doesn’t include all the garments that end up in landfill each year, and the rising rates of consumption that have led more and more to be produced.

Despite threats of government intervention and a rise in brands claiming to use ‘environmentally friendly practices’, progress is slow.

One of the solutions Tonti puts forward in Sundressed is regenerative farming, which she compares to an ‘untouched meadow’ – one that feels alive and lush, where there isn’t an ounce of space left bare. “We can replicate those conditions on farms where we grow natural fibres,” she writes (natural fibres include linen, cotton, silk, wool, hemp and cashmere).

This style of farming allows nature to take its course, free from practices such as ploughing soil and spraying pesticides – an approach that’s already being adopted around the world to create more resilient, healthier landscapes.

But, according to Tonti, there are other major players who need to step up. “We definitely need government regulation,” she tells us. “As much as there are players in the industry who have good intentions, overwhelmingly the issue is the industry's carbon footprint – because of how much product is produced and sold.”

This overconsumption is something she encourages consumers to address themselves. This year, she’s pledging to only buy five pieces for her wardrobe – and it seems similar ‘no-buy’ or ‘low-buy’ challenges are becoming more popular on social media. Examples include the ‘75 Hard Style Challenge’, which pushes participants to shop in their existing wardrobe and experiment with what they already own.

Tonti believes these challenges can help us rethink our consumption habits – and, importantly, make lowering our footprint fun: “[Clothes] become really luxurious and exciting things to purchase,” she explains, adding, “You can spend a lot of time satiating that need for newness, because some of it is about the hunt – just researching, ‘What is the perfect thing?’ ‘What do I really want?’”

In Sundressed, Tonti also speaks to the importance of loving and caring for the clothes you already have in your closet. “When you really love an item of clothing and it's something that you can put on and it gives you confidence to walk out the door, it really does impact the way we interact with the world outside of us, the way that we see ourselves and the confidence that we have,” she tells us.

When it comes to beauty, Tonti’s values hold true. Her daily skincare routine consists of the Emma Lewisham Illuminating Oil Cleanser, Skin Reset Serum and Supernatural Day Crème, while she’ll also occasionally turn to a mask: “I use the Omorovicza Ultramoor Mud Mask, which I love.”

On sharing her fashion philosophy and insights with The MECCA Memo, Tonti adds, “It's so funny. I feel like when you're Australian, you kind of grow up in MECCA – it was where I bought my first eyelash curler and where I tried serum for the first time. It feels like coming full circle.”

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