The past few years have proved to be pivotal for fashion transparency, with key information reaching mass audiences through different media outlets in just milliseconds. The fashion industry has never been this fragile and kept accountable for its actions and impacts on people’s livelihoods and the environment, which is revolutionary in its own sense. However, everything is a two-edged sword: people are seeing sustainability as just “another trend”, which is where the underlying problem of fashion stems from — categorizing vital pieces of information as trends is something that’s, in its core, reprehensible, but inevitable. Capitalism has shaped and coddled our minds to the point of blurring fact and fiction, with the fact being the reports after reports indicating fast fashion’s detrimental exploitation of human labor and nature’s resources, and fiction being every trendy clothing piece that’s marketed as something that we “need” without taking into account where it might come from and what purchasing it actually represents.
“If sustainable fashion exists to challenge the way the fashion industry has operated, it must go beyond buying our way into a new reality. We must always question the type of system we are trying to “sustain.” — Aditi Mayer
Aditi Mayer started her blog ADIMAY back in 2014, which has now grown to be an editorial hub exploring the intersections of style, social politics, and sustainability while promoting businesses that match those benchmarks and amplifying the unheard voices of the workers making the garments in inhumane conditions. Aditi’s writing and activism not only stands up to the fast-fashion enigmas that are often neglected but spreads awareness through different types of media, be it bite-sized Infographics on Instagram for a quick-glance impact, articles sharing detailed and well-researched information through the lens of social and environmental justice in fashion, minority representation and labor exploitation, as well as highly informative panel discussions covering topics that reconstruct the status quo: from decolonizing fashion to sustainable influencing. Aditi has also joined Intersectional Environmentalist, a platform for resources, information, and action steps to support and advance intersectional environmentalism, where she takes on the role of Community Lead & Council Member. In addition to everything we previously mentioned, she is a speaker, photojournalist, filmmaker, and consultant as well. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify Aditi’s voice and her inclusive and intersectional movement and have her be part of our Cool Faces of Bastet Noir series.
Who is Aditi Mayer?
Aditi Mayer wearing The Diane Dress custom-made for her
Aditi Mayer is a sustainable fashion blogger behind ADIMAY.com, photojournalist, labor rights activist, and frequent speaker on topics of social and environmental justice. Her work looks at fashion and culture through a lens of intersectionality and decolonization. In 2014, Aditi had her start in the sustainable fashion movement after learning about the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse. Seeing the fashion industry’s disproportionate impact on people of color globally, Aditi looked to understand the historical and sociopolitical underpinnings that allow the fashion industry to function in a colonial manner, rooted in exploitation and extraction of both labor and the natural environment.
Since then, she has become a voice in the larger sustainability movement, approaching her work from multiple domains: from grassroots organizing in Downtown LA’s garment district to educating folks on the importance of diverse perspectives. She also serves on the council of Intersectional Environmentalist and will be spending 2022 as a National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, spending one year documenting the social and environmental impacts of India’s fashion supply chain.
What’s your morning routine like?
Sporadic to say the least — especially since COVID shifted so much of our lives, and as a freelancer who has the privilege of flexibility. I’d say I am still learning how to embed ritual and familiarity into a practice. These days, I’m trying to take my mornings slow: that looks like spending ample time in the sun, preparing a hearty breakfast when I can, and getting movement in.
Aditi Mayer wearing The Birkin Shirt & The Kate Skirt custom-made for her
Your work is truly inspiring! A bold combination of sustainability, fashion, labor rights activism, social justice, and environmentalism, and to top it all off, you’re a photojournalist as well. Is it challenging to juggle all these topics of conversation and titles, and bring awareness to each one without overshadowing the other?
Thank you! I would say it’s not necessarily hard to juggle these titles, but rather my work in each domain informs one another — because they’re thematically tied. So for instance my work as a sustainable fashion blogger equips me to speak on topics of sustainability from a personalized perspective; people are able to put a face and lived experience to what can otherwise be an abstract topic. However, as a journalist, I’m able to de-center myself and look at issues from a systemic perspective.
However, certain titles that are more “public-facing” for lack of a better word definitely take the limelight as far as what I’m known for, which I would say at the moment is my identity as a blogger/online creator. It’s hard not to feel pigeonholed in an age where your practice and personhood can so easily be reduced to an Instagram bio, but I try my best to marry all of my interests and mediums and leave room to grow as both a creative and storyteller.
Aditi Mayer wearing The Birkin Shirt & The Kate Skirt custom-made for her
Style, sustainability, and diversity are an integral part of your brand and your voice helps thousands of people learn and become aware of the cruel reality of the fashion industry. According to you, what is something that the majority of people turn a blind eye to?
Definitely the labor dimension of fashion. So much of the sustainability narrative has focused on environmental impact, but my interest in the sustainable fashion movement was catalyzed by seeing the impact it had on people. Of course, the impact upon people and the planet are deeply connected — but understanding the ways in which labor exploitation occurs helps us understand the systems of oppression at play that create a marginalized, docile workforce.
You will be spending 2022 as a National Geographic Digital Storyteller Fellow which is such an important role to assume. How did this come about and how are you preparing for this journey?
Yes! I’m so excited. It’s actually a fellowship I’ve been eyeing since I found out about it as a freshman in University. You have to have graduated to apply, so once I did graduate in 2019, I applied. I found out I was a recipient of the fellowship in 2020, just as the pandemic began. It was a dream come true, but of course, it’s been a waiting game with the spread of COVID-19. In the meantime, I’m strengthening my connections in India, thinking about the stories that aren’t being told, the best ways to share the journey.
Three things you wish you knew before starting out?
Oh, man… I don’t think I ever expected this work to be my full-time thing when I first learned about the world of sustainable fashion in my first year of University. There are no regrets I have, and I think the lessons I’ve learned along the way all came when the time was right.