Sascha Camilli Founder of Vilda Talks About Vegan Clothing
Posted by Unicorn Goods
Sascha Camilli is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vilda, a vegan fashion magazine, and does PR for PETA UK. She has been vegan herself since 2012. Sascha recently shared with us her thoughts on trends in vegan fashion, and the progress of the vegan movement. Vilda (pronounced VILL-duh) is the Swedish word for “the wild one.”
Unicorn Goods: What inspired you to start Vilda?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: When I went vegan four years ago, I found myself looking on the web for food and lifestyle inspiration. It was an obvious choice for me that not only was I going to stop eating animals, but that I was also definitely going to phase out wearing animals. I could find lots of advice on food, recipes, what not to eat, where to get your nutrients, and things like that; but there was very little info back in the day in 2012 on anything fashion-related, where to find vegan-friendly fashion,what you should wear and why.
The few resources that I could find conformed very closely to the stereotype of what people thought vegan was: very earthy, hippie-ish and floral, and not very on trend. I was working in the fashion industry at the time. I had an idea to start a resource of some kind that would help people like myself find fashion that looked good and that meant that they didn’t have to sacrifice or compromise on style in order to dress compassionately.I applied for a program that Marie Claire UK runs, called the Inspire & Mentor scheme. They choose people with business ideas that they think have potential and pair them with someone who can be a mentor for them - and I was lucky enough to be chosen. They paired me up with Poppy Dinsey who started What I Wore Today, a social network for people posting their outfits and giving advice and tips on where to buy the clothes they’re wearing. She was an incredible help. I knew absolutely nothing about launching an online magazine. From the technicalities of Wordpress to contacting potential partner brands, I had absolutely no clue, but I was lucky enough to get that help. And here we are today.
Unicorn Goods: Can you tell us about your redesign of the site?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: We finished the redesign of the Vilda website a couple of months ago. We’ve been around for about two years and we’ve always had the same layout, which I really loved at first.It was everything that I wanted the site to be initially: clean, monochrome and minimalist. As we moved along, I wanted to explore something that could help our readers navigate our content more easily and stumble across things they didn’t know they were interested in, or find the things that they come to our site to find. It was time for something new. I worked with web designer and developer Cristina Mariani and Vilda’s Art Director, Emilee Seymour, who works from Paris. Both of them have been a crucial driving force in the process of redesigning.
Unicorn Goods: Do you identify as a vegan? Why or why not?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: Definitely - I absolutely identify as a vegan. Some people can be wary of labels, but I have the feeling that I’m part of a group fighting to change the world. I’m happy to see that “vegan” is becoming more of a mainstream concept, that more people kind of know what it is and what it entails. I’m definitely vegan and proud!
Unicorn Goods: How did you become vegan?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: I went vegetarian when I was 11 when I watched a video in school about animals on a meat farm. I saw cows standing in little stalls and I realized that was their life. They just stood there day in and day out, without spending time with their calves or ever seeing the sun. It wasn’t the first time I felt that way. I had always thought about whether or not I should be eating meat ever since I learned where meat came from. It’s always been a moral struggle.
At a certain point, I realized that I could choose not to be a part of it. I could choose to say “no” to eating meat. I didn’t go fully vegan until four years ago - I thought about veganism along the way, but I hadn’t met that many vegans and had the idea, like many people do, that being vegan would be difficult, that I could never go out to dinner again, that it would be hard. If you lived in certain places, like Italy where I was at the time, being vegan didn’t seem to be the easiest lifestyle.
Then, on my birthday a while ago I was given Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was just such a powerful read. I remember crying and feeling sick. Even to someone who was vegetarian, it was still so eye-opening. I found myself thinking, “I don’t care how hard this is. I don’t care if I can never go to a restaurant again - I just can’t keep doing this. There’s just no way to justify it.” It was just about the time that my now-husband and I were moving to London, which I think is one of the best places in the world for vegans.I just took it one day at a time and phased stuff out. Now when I go back to Milan or Stockholm, where I’m from, I’m amazed at the choices that have come up in recent years, and the restaurants that are opening up. There are vegan options in the most unlikely places. Recently, I saw a vegan sandwich at the central station in Rome, which was very unexpected. And it was actually labeled vegan! That’s really amazing to see. It’s so cool to see how far the movement is coming and how great things are looking. We still have a lot of progress ahead of us, but we’re heading in the right direction.
Unicorn Goods: Why do you do what do?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: The idea with the magazine was to inspire people to adopt cruelty-free, and also to dispel the myths about vegan fashion. Often when I tell people that I run a magazine about vegan fashion, the reaction is, “Oh, what does that mean? What’s vegan fashion?” I want to create something that not only shows what vegan fashion can be, but that can also show how stylish, creative, and innovative it can be. I want to be a supporter for brands and designers doing amazing ethical collections and promote their work in any way that I can.
Unicorn Goods: Do you write to teach, or do you write to think?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: I write to inspire. I would like the magazine to be a source of inspiration for people who want to take that step to dress more compassionately. This is not just for vegans. It’s for everyone who is curious about ethical fashion but doesn’t know where to look. It’s hard for people who want to overhaul their wardrobe after going vegan. A lot of the questions we get are like “Ok, I want to start changing the way that I dress. I want to start dressing cruelty-free. But what do I do with my old leather jackets? Where do I go to find this? Where do I go to find that?” I want to be an inspiration and a resource in that sense.
Unicorn Goods: Who are vegans you admire, if any?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: When I’m not running Vilda I work for PETA here in the UK. The founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, is one of my absolute idols. She’s just so passionate about change. She’s the type of person who, if she wants change, she makes sure to go and get it. She won’t rest until she gets change. She’s so uncompromising about saving lives and about stopping suffering. I’m just in awe of that. On a fashion level, I really admire Stella McCartney for using her design talent and her fame to speak out for animals. That’s not something you see every day, people using their status to do good. That’s something I admire.
Unicorn Goods: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: I would put an end to the fur industry, today. That, in particular, is such an unnecessary thing to have in the world. Not that the rest of animal suffering and human suffering and environmental destruction is less harmful. It’s such unnecessary cruelty happening just for status, not even for style.
Unicorn Goods: Do you think people are inherently good?
Yes, I would say so. I believe in people. There are structures in society that are there to keep people uninformed and to keep people from knowing the truth about certain things. When people become aware of what they’re eating and what they’re wearing and how it ends up on their plates and in their wardrobes and especially that they have better options, I think that people are inclined to make good choices.
Unicorn Goods: Do you wear animal-free clothing? Why or why not?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: I wear 100% animal-free clothing all the time. It was a transition, as it is for most vegans. For me, it was definitely a process. I didn’t throw out everything from day one. When I started looking at buying new clothing, I naturally went toward the cruelty-free styles. Once you learn where animal-derived clothing comes from and how it’s made, you just don’t want to wear it again. It just doesn’t look attractive to you anymore. I think it’s crucial to keep in mind that when you see the videos and read about the investigations; they are not one-offs. It’s not one bad farm or one bad slaughterhouse. This is standard practice. Once you realize that, your next step is thinking of alternatives and there really is so much out there. When you try and open your eyes to the cruelty-free options available, you’ll find that it’s actually quite easy to dress with compassion.
Unicorn Goods: What's the hardest part about wearing a vegan wardrobe for you?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: Until recently, finding vegan gloves used to be a nightmare! Even in the high street chains, which I would usually turn to, every time I found a style I liked, there it was, the label that proudly proclaimed: “Genuine Leather.” That was, of course, a huge let-down. This year, I lost one of my gloves and I was dreading having to look for a new pair. But when I had a look, I actually saw that it’s getting better. Hopefully, that’s changing as well. But little accessories like that used to be a tricky one.
Unicorn Goods: What's the hardest part about being vegan in general for you?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: People’s comments and reactions is the only difficult thing. I don’t mind questions, if someone is genuinely interested. I’m happy to explain and share my experiences. I’m not a nutritionist or an expert, but I’m happy to share what I have learned along the way. But if someone is obviously trying to start a fight or trying to catch me out, or find loopholes in my life philosophy, then that’s definitely something I can do without. For me, that’s the only tricky part.
Unicorn Goods: Is there anything you've been searching for in your animal-free wardrobe that you haven't been able to find?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: Today, I’ve seen an incredible development from when I first went vegan in 2012. There’s been such a great growth in the vegan fashion market, and today there is so much innovation. In the beginning it was harder to find fashionable vegan items, but he designs are so much more on-trend now. The products look so much more chic and current. It’s amazing to see all the new brands on Unicorn Goods. I also appreciate that Unicorn Goods and the brands on the site focus on aesthetics and design, in addition to ethics.
Unicorn Goods: What's your favorite item that you recently found on Unicorn Goods?
Sascha Camilli, Vilda: It’s hard a favorite item, because there’s so much great stuff on Unicorn Goods. I love the Festival Collection. I love the Grunge Collection. If I had to choose just one thing, it would be the brand Freedom of Animals. It’s one of my favorite brands. Morgan Bogle, the founder of Freedom of Animals, is such an incredible style inspiration for vegans. She really nails that minimalist contemporary look. I especially love the collaboration with Nikki Reed that’s on Unicorn Goods. We covered that collaboration, as well, when it came out because it’s such a great example of how far cruelty-free designers have come.
If you remember, just a few years ago, vegan design was all canvas and very earthy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I have a big canvas tote bag that says “vegan” on it and I love it, but at the same time, it’s great to see someone do something that might appeal to non-vegans as well, or that people could buy just because it looks good, not just because it’s ethical. I think that’s something that we should all try and remember. That’s something that Unicorn Goods does very well - keeping the fashion at the heart of it. That’s the best way to attract customers that maybe haven’t considered this way of dressing before.