A Week Of Outfits With Slow Fashion Advocate Leah Musch
The Good Trade's Week of Outfits Series highlights women that have personally inspired us to shop and live with intention. Each woman takes her own unique approach to slow fashion and demonstrates how beautifully sustainable fashion can come to life. Today we're excited to share a week of outfits from Leah Musch, a visual merchandiser and the blogger behind Un-Material Girl!
// ABOUT LEAH //
I like to describe myself as a former fast fashion addict turned slow fashion activist. Before experiencing what I like to call my “Fashion Epiphany”, I was a serial shopper. I actively avoided letting myself ask any tricky questions like “Where was this made?” or “How can this be so cheap?” Instead, I would pride myself on my ability to put together chic ensembles for next to nothing. I worked in a variety of fast fashion stores during my teens, and eventually opened my own fashion retail store called The Happy Cabin at the age of 21.
But after a few years, I burnt myself out and couldn’t help thinking that despite the business doing well, something was missing. It wasn’t until I decided to sell the store and travel to Brazil, where I volunteered in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro, that my eyes were opened to the power of ethical and sustainable fashion. I was mentoring a young fashion designer named Maria Chantal who was standing up against racism through her handmade fashion label. It was my work with her that inspired me to reframe the way I was looking at the fashion industry and the power of clothing.
Upon returning to Australia, I watched ‘The True Cost’ documentary and the penny dropped. I realized that my love for business, fashion, the environment and helping people came together into one perfect thing—Ethical and Sustainable Fashion. I decided to radically change the way I consumed not just fashion, but everything in my life. I read books on minimalism, I Marie Kondo’d my entire house, and I decided to document my process with a blog. That’s how The Un-Material Girl was born, and it’s since taken me all around the world.
Fast forward three and a half years, and I’m fresh out of finishing a Fashion Degree, for which I was the recipient of a completely life-changing scholarship. I now work for Biome Eco Stores, where I originally started out as a Visual Merchandiser but have since managed to create a role for myself as their first ever Slow Fashion Buyer. I spend half my time making the stores look beautiful, and the other half at Head Office, seeking out ethical and sustainable brands to support and stock.
Instead of buying the latest fast fashion trend, I sew or upcycle my own unique version. I love shopping at thrift stores and markets, and when I can I support local, slow fashion makers and brands that align with my values. You may spot a few brands that aren’t ethical in my Week of Outfits, but those are either thrifted or old favourites from BFE (Before Fashion Epiphany). I always try to educate and inspire from the position of someone who, once upon a time, had no idea about what was really going on within the Fashion Industry. I do it without judgment, and instead I try to share my belief that when it comes to ethical and sustainable fashion—you don’t ever have to compromise on style, fun or fashionability.
I recently walked past my favourite local thrift store, and spotted these wild hand printed jeans through the window—they literally stopped me in my tracks! I immediately went in, tried them on, and couldn’t believe they were a perfect fit. For $20, they came home with me. Paired with my oldest and most favourite hat, boots I found in Milan and a light blouse from Barcelona, I kicked off my Monday at HQ strong.
I love to walk the line between bohemian and edgy, and this look felt like a mash up that worked. The waist paper linen pants felt right with the metallic turmeric slippers, and a good ol’ half tuck of a checkered blouse I found at a recent garage sale tied it all together. My tasseled backpack has been with me for almost 5 years, and I use it pretty much every single day. I bought it from a boutique in Rio De Janeiro, and it reminds me to keep seeking out adventures in my every day life.
On the days I’m merchandising in store, I like to dress a little more practically as I often find myself balancing on ladders in windows or dismantling table displays. Sneakers, pants, a tee and something fun is my self chosen “uniform”. In this case, an artisan made scarf from Sukkha Citta proved to be the perfect ethical hair accessory, and the handmade bumbag (purchased from a market in Portugal) works as a stylish toolbelt. My Allbird sneakers make me feel like I’m walking on clouds all day.
If this look had a theme, it would be Feminism. I couldn’t resist the attitude of Good Kramas “Destroy the Patriarchy, not the Planet” tee, especially in an unassuming baby pink. It felt right to team this with a fantastic pair of handmade booby earrings, and 70s-style flares that I picked up at a garage sale for 5 bucks. This look makes me feel both feminine and rebellious, it gave me a pep in my step all day!
This ‘Week of Outfits’ happened to fall on my birthday! I decided crushed linen fit the mood for turning 28, as I slowly transition into a woman who doesn’t give a damn about wrinkles. I’ve always been a fan of pink, where others shy away, I embrace. I had to work on my birthday, but luckily I was able to share my shift with my bestie who serenaded me as soon as she walked in the door (and then treated me to a delicious vegan lunch!)
I began my Saturday in a totally different outfit, however as I spent my morning hosting a Clothing Swap, it felt fitting to show off one of my favourite finds—this cute little floral number! This was the first Clothing Swap I had hosted professionally and I was blown away by the incredible response from our community. Women were sharing stories about their garments in the fitting rooms, so excited to see their unwanted clothes have a second life. Nothing like promoting the circular economy to kick off your weekend!
Now that I’m working full time, I try to squeeze as much out of my weekends as possible—and this means dressing up whenever I get the chance. The leopard print layer of this look was another Clothes Swap gem, however it was originally a wrap dress that was a tiny bit too small—so I improvised. The earrings I’ve had so long I can’t remember where they came from, and the pants are from one of my favourite local up-cycled fashion stores—Ra Ra Superstar.