Tiffany - Consumers have the power to influence

Tiffany makes it possible for more of us to consume consciously by being an influencer, raising awareness about the need for sustainable fashion and by making it all look really good. She's a designer at heart and fashion is just one of her many outlets for her sustainable ideas. Read on to find out more about her story and thoughts on consumption, the fashion industry and sustainability.

Where are you from?  Hong Kong

What brought you to Shanghai?  

I studied fashion design in Shanghai. I chose China because it’s a big market and a lot of production takes place here. It also has a lot of pollution caused by production. When trying to solve a problem it’s best to go to the biggest source of pollution. I want to help solve the ecological problems in China, I want to help my own people. I believe every effort counts. My business isn’t just a brand, I want it to attract other brands and set an example.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Most people just think in terms of materials, to me it’s about more than that, it’s about culture, the environment and society. Sustainability is the continuity of life, not just the environment. It’s about the big picture.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about creation, I love to create. My mom told me I dreamt about 3D printing before it became a thing. Fashion is just the start of it, from style you can create a lifestyle.   

Creation just for the sake of creation has no purpose, but creation with a purpose is meaningful.

How do you do to consume consciously?

As a fashion designer, I don’t really buy clothes. I have a lot of clothes that’s been around for ages, but I swap clothes sometimes. In terms of food, I’m trying to be vegetarian. I don’t really buy much, but when I do I reject bags. Lately, I stopped purchasing online because of the carbon footprint the transport industry creates. I try to walk instead of taking taxis and schedule as many appointments as possible in one area.

I’m trying to reduce my water consumption too. I recently did a water challenge to re-use water. It was really challenging to see how many times you could re-use water for different purposes. I also changed my shower head, it’s an amazing design by a Korean designer that reduces your water consumption. If I need any furniture I buy second hand. I think it would be hypocritical if I didn’t save as much as I could. You can influence friends and encourage them to reflect and do the same.

When did you become an environmentally conscious person?

I took part in a sustainable design competition when I was eight but it wasn’t really a trend back then. My parents were always conscious of the environment and their consumption. We did things like recycling plastic bags, we even had recycling boxes and composting at school. I was really lucky to have it all around me. Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s trash is filling up landfills really quickly, it’s scary. Being born and raised in Hong Kong is a big part of why I’m doing what I’m doing right now.

How would more people becoming conscious of what they consume change the world?

It wouldn’t really change the world, it would just bring back balance to it. Humans aren’t doing anything good to the planet. We’re parasites. It’s not about changing the world it’s about becoming more in harmony with it. It’s about getting back the balance. Human beings aren’t doing enough to take care of the earth. It’s not that organic is expensive, it’s that the rest is really cheap. It’s going back to the way things used to be done.

What’s the easiest part of being different in what you consume?

Most people’s decisions are based on spending. Even then you’re trying to be conscious it’s important. Money can become a way to control what you consume. Thinking about saving money is good motivation to make better decisions. You can then spend that money on other causes or charities.

What’s the hardest part of being different in what you consume?  

The hardest part is changing deep-rooted behaviour. You have to remind yourself that you can change. You grow up with advertisements and consumerism all around you. Buying is deeply rooted in us, especially in big cities. Consumerism makes people feel that they have to buy to be happy. The truth is, the simpler you live the happier you’ll be. You don’t need that much.

What are your top 3 practical changes?

  • Think about the value of money the money you spend. What could it buy for someone else or yourself? Use your wealth wisely.
  • Always choose quality over replacing the same things that just don’t last.
  • Sharing is always a good thing. Share your wardrobe, your resources, your food, share everything.

What are the biggest challenges we face today in the fashion industry?

Sustainable production is the biggest challenge. In the fashion industry people like pattern makers, for example, would choose cheaper production methods even if it creates more waste. Decisions are usually driven by time and money. In future people will either have to stop over consuming or everything we produce will have to be recyclable. The industry is changing, one-day sustainable production won’t be a choice anymore, everyone will have to do it. That’ll be great.

If the whole world was listening, what would you say?

Consumers have the power to influence, every dollar you spend has the power to influence what the future’s going to look like. Don’t underestimate it.

What do you do?

I’m a sustainable designer.