The idea started off as "Off Duty Model" and would be a website for all women, not just models, to go and purchase looks in order to attain the effortless style that models wear when they’re on the go. Think simple, stylish staples put together with minimal effort.
While my mom and I began to brainstorm the best way to start this company, we talked about how cool it would be to not only feature brands we love that have that "model off duty" look but to also make our own clothing line sometime in the future. Obviously, when considering costs, the benefit of outsourcing and producing in Asia would be ideal. We even had a connection through a friend who was willing to manufacture some of our designs in his factory in China.
Something however didn't feel right. Having been in the fashion industry for over four years now, I have realized how much gets outsourced to cut costs. It felt wrong to produce somewhere simply because it would be the cheapest option. Would the factory have adequate safety measures? Would they pay and treat their workers well? Would I be able to visit China multiple times a year to gage the quality control of our new products? These are things that would be harder to oversee since both my mom and I are based in the States.
Right around this time, I happened to meet an incredibly inspiring supermodel activist, Cameron Russell. You may recognize her from Victoria's Secret and her numerous Vogue covers, or have had the pleasure of watching her incredible Ted Talk where she discusses society's obsession with beautiful models and celebrities. (You can watch it HERE).
The night I met Cameron, she was holding an intimate talk for models in NYC where we could discuss anything and everything in a safe environment relating to our roles as models, the direction of our careers and what we could do with the following we've gained from modeling. She talked about how she won the “genetic lottery” and how her success enabled her to be heard by many through the thousands of social media followers she developed. She stresses the importance of vocalizing what matters to her as an arts-based social activist and motivated us to similarly spread powerful messages that mean something to us.
As an activist, she had a lot to say about the fashion industry, an industry that many of us have come to realize is extremely disposable. Nobody thinks about the amount of waste that accumulates through all the unused fabric that gets tossed into our landfills. While I knew fashion wasn’t the best for our environment, I didn’t realize as Cameron informed us that it was one of the dirtiest industries, second after oil. Elizabeth Cline, journalist and author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion, states Americans only end up recycling 15% of their clothing, as sourced from her article “Where Does Discarded Clothing Go?” There is a need to be more cognizant of the environment and for people like myself and Cameron, to try to influence and have an impact.
It was that night after Cameron’s talk that I made the decision that we would make our company sustainable. We would use all of our industry connections to make a brand that not only allowed women to achieve a model’s off duty style with ease but our target market now included stylish women who want to look good without compromising their environment. Off Duty Models were now becoming On Duty Citizens; ODM/ODC.
There is a need to slow down production and cut back on our consumption. We’re getting back to our basics, we’re reducing the consumerism pressure from media and we will try our absolute hardest to influence a backwards industry. The brands we feature on our site are all made sustainably with the environment and those who make the clothing in mind. The clothes we plan to produce (stay tuned!) will be made with our strict guidelines as well. It will take longer to perfect and it will be a journey of constant education and evolution but we're ready for the challenge.
Image Credit: Ted.com
Image Credit: Amazon.com