Sustainable Influencer: Aditi Mayer
Sustainable Influencer: Aditi Mayer
1. Please tell us about your blog? What is the focus?
ADIMAY is an editorial platform that explores the ties between style, sustainability, and social justice. Aditi Mayer, the blog’s founder, is a photographer/journalist/activist who is passionate about exploring the ties between artistic expression & social action.
2. What made you decide to create this blog?
When ADIMAY started, it really didn’t have much intention to it at all. It was very much a young girl just putting her creative work out there in the world (my background is in photography). I guess the name ADIMAY is fitting, because it’s just the first three letters of my first and last name, but it’s really been an a very organic growth, a living organism almost, that has reflected my journey and growth as an creator and activist and the intersection between the two.
There’s 3 elements that are central to defining what the ADIMAY brand is, a manifesto of sorts: ETHICS, IDENTITY, AND INTERSECTIONALITY.
ETHICS | First is the understanding that ethical fashion is a baseline requirement in the work I produce, not a differentiator. I support only the brands and independent designers that are consciously merging ethics with aesthetics. Destruction of the environment, flows of labor, exploitation locally and abroad which targets women, children, and migrant communities.
IDENTITY | This blog is a space for identity reclamation. As a women of color, it’s been really important for me to unapologetically take space in the fashion world, and of course, sustainable fashion world. A lot of my style, both in fashion and photography, have become more and more rooted within my cultural identity. And in taking up that space and writing my own cultural narrative, it’s been a form of decolonization, amplifying, breaking the mold of how my culture may be traditionally seen, or not seen. It’s actually been real interesting because in doing so, a lot of my audience has become South Asians who are hungry to see themselves represented in the creative sphere, and then they’ll go on to learn about sustainability as well. Forefronting my identity as a brown woman has led to larger conversations of identity politics and race relations, which I think are so important to the space and long overdue. It’s spoken to this idea of cultural sustainability-- holistic sustainability isn't just environmental, but takes cultural sustainability into account: a conversation which includes everything from appropriation, reductionist tropes, to considering the power structures within race, class & gender. Often, our conversations about sustainability are too centered around environmental sustainability, but cultural sustainability is so, so important in this landscape.
INTERSECTIONALITY | The goal of this blog hasn't been to tell you what to buy or how to think, but rather present new ideas & think critically. Instead, it’s about delving into the world of sustainable fashion and expanding the conversation to be more nuanced.
3. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
At the young age of 12, I developed a love for photography. Photography was my gateway for falling in love with storytelling, and was the main catalyst in deciding to pursue Journalism in college. Once I delved deeper into journalism, I found myself drawn to issues of inequality and injustice. From here, I wanted to understand issues from a structural perspective, which led me to pursue a degree of International Studies as well. Now, as a content creator, I’ve found that using visuals and texts have come naturally to share stories around topics that explore both artistic expression and social action.
4. Where are you based?
Los Angeles, California
5. What does being an Influencer mean to you? Do you consider yourself an Influencer?
I think the word “influencer” today is often tied to a culture of consumerism, someone whose job it is to make you want the next “hottest” thing. For me, being an influencer means to critique culture in a productive way, and providing new methods of considering our relationship to the world around us, whether that’s fashion, activism, or just citizens with a duty to promote justice. I never really identified as an “Influencer,” because although to promote sustainable brands is a large element of the work I do, I think my true role as a creator is to disrupt the way we’ve normalized injustices like labor and environmental exploitation.
6. Please tell us about some of your current topics on your blog? How does being a intersectional feminist affect you, what topics do you address, and your fashion?
I think a major parallel between ethical fashion and intersectional feminism is centering marginalized voices especially those that are seldom heard. Conscious consumerism is linked to broader issues of social justice, whether that’s the fight for workers rights all across the globe, to the exploitation of resources internationally.
As much value I find in ethical fashion as a way to share my perspectives on intersections of culture and aesthetics, representation and identity, to politics of labor, I don’t want the conversation to end at what we wear. I believe that fashion and expression is a vehicle to explore greater issues of where we stand structurally in systems of inequality— from gender, cultural identity, class and race— and how we can work towards a more just future. Put simply, I want to use ADIMAY as a platform to show just how intersectional conversations about fashion can be.
7. How do you source your information?
Much of my content is based in opinion, think pieces per say. However, I often look to academic journals to source my ideas/information. Additionally, having a background in journalism often leads me to those first hand encounters/interviews. For instance, I have an upcoming piece that will be looking at sweatshops in Los Angeles. That piece was developing by engaging with the Garment Workers Center of Los Angeles from their organizers, to actual garment workers, as well as research and academic journals. I think it’s important to balance our stats and research with first hand accounts with those affected most by the issues we seek to address.
8. Do you practice and only wear sustainable fashion?
Yes! I will say, however, it’s a lot easier for me because the nature of my works means I get a lot of clothes from brands. That’s a privilege I hold and don’t deny by any means. For regular consumers, I would say being a purist should be the priority. Take small steps; consume less and consume better.
9. What got you interested in sustainable fashion?
So before sustainable fashion even came onto my radar, I identified as a visual storyteller. When college came around and I was going into my first year as an undergrad, I decided to begin putting my work out there in world, since before it was much more of an internal affair. Around the same time, I decided that I wanted to start incorporating more fashion photography in my work. At the same time, I had my first introduction with the world of sustainable fashion and was completely blown away-- as a creator who was beginning to about the purpose of my work, I knew I wanted more than just pretty imagery, I wanted my work have more potential for purpose. And that sentiment was shared with how I saw sustainable fashion-- it was more than just saying “look at this pretty dress,” but the flows of labor, the environment, to female empowerment.
10. I LOVE your article of “Women of Color in Sustainable Fashion, Why The Stakes Are Higher.”..I like how you have a proposed solution at the end, so it speaks from your heart with the facts but in a positive light on what we can do...What inspired you to write this article? What generally gravitates your inspiration?
Speaking candidly, being a woman of color in the sustainable fashion space, you notice a lack of diversity, to many tropes that are problematic. This piece was inspired both from personal experience, and my passion for race relations.
11. I like your video in the about section, whom are some of your idols?
Thank you! One of my biggest blogging inspirations is Margaret Zhang; she’s such a multi-hypenate, from photography, styling, writing, to now film, and I aspire to have that in my own work.
12. What are some of your favorite sustainable brands, and why? “Wear Your Values” is strong, where did you get this powerful voice at a young age?
Victoria Road always blows me away with their pieces, designed by a set of amazing Pakistani designers, and they’re intentional about using their brand to promote a cross-cultural dialogue.
Par en par has an amazing brand philosophy that lives at the intersection of effort & relaxation, and the versatility of their pieces live up to that idea.
13. I noticed you are a photographer, what kind of photography do you practice? Do you take most of your own images?
I work as a fashion and fine art photographer, as well as photojournalist. I take most of my own images.
14. What do you love about the art?
As a fashion photography and photojournalist, I feel like I’m navigating two polar worlds. In fashion photography, I imagine a world a work to manipulate elements to create that vision. With photojournalism, I can’t premeditate anything, you simply go out and capture the human condition in a manner you feel most authentic and raw. So whereas one form is a form of escapism and imagination, the other is a way to engage with the world, one that leads to new negotiations of identity, responsibility, and privilege.
15. All these Influencers are popping up everywhere, what is your message that separates you?
I think it’s the fact that the goal of my blog hasn't been to tell readers what to buy or how to think, but rather present new ideas & think critically.
15. Social Media & Website info:
16. What is your motto in life?
Lead with love. Low ego, high impact. Move at the speed of trust and the 3 organizing guidelines for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Interview by Alison Hernon, Fashion Director, Jejune Magazine