Jeannette Ooink, born in Friesland (in the Northern part of the Netherlands) and living for over 15 years in the midst of nature in the area of Arnhem. In 2009 she set up the sustainable fashion platform  ‘Awearness Fashion’ with her best friend Wilma Mulder. She’s also a communication specialist for Tactus Addiction care and she’s on the board of trustees of the Fashion Library. She’s driven with everything she does. Besides her work she loves to travel and learn about  other cultures and discover new places.
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What makes your wardrobe green?
I believe there are multiple ways to deal with your wardrobe that are more sustainable, green and fair. One is by not constantly buying new things but holding on to your clothes for a longer period of time.  Or by buying second hand clothing and by borrowing or exchanging clothing. And also by choosing a personal timeless style for yourself. And if you want to buy something new, make the choice to buy ethically responsible fashion. Pay attention to the working conditions in which your clothes were made, check if the fabrics are eco-friendly, and last but not least: pay attention to craftsmanship! This is how my wardrobe is built and put together.

Can you describe your wardrobe?
I have a walk in closet where my clothes and shoes fit in perfectly. On both sides there’s a place for hanging up clothes and there’s some shelves as well. Everything is organized by color.

What’s your favorite outfit and style of dressing? And why? 15
Most of the clothing I wear is made by designers I know personally.  Most of them from Arnhem. It feels really good. My style is feminine, but it has to be cool as well. Not too exposing. I have a soft spot for tiger print, but in a classy way. I love black, but have colorful clothing as well. How I dress depends on my mood that day and what I have planned. I wear something different every day and always think it out because I gain confidence from wearing something I feel good in. I’m not someone who grabs something out of her closet without thinking. Even my lipstick has to match.

Why are you so interested in clothing?
I was born that way, haha! As a little girl I was very aware of what I liked and knew exactly what I did and didn’t want to wear. I really love clothing. I would often change my clothes at school because I wanted to wear things my parents didn’t allow. I liked extravagance. From age 15 I worked in fashion boutiques as a job next to school and I enjoyed everything that I learned there. Later I got into modelling and doing fashion shows. As a child I was very socially engaged, but only later in life I became more aware of the dark side of fashion. And that was also the moment I wanted to do something with it.

14What are your considerations when you buy clothing?
I think about every purchase (or every exchange piece) and about how I’m going to wear it: will it really suit me, will I like it for a longer period of time, is it special and timeless (so no fast fashion garbage), what is the story behind it, what’s the quality. It seems like a complicated checklist, but for me it’s a very natural and easy way to buy clothing. I don’t buy very often, but if I do I make it a conscious choice and I almost always go for fair fashion brands, preferably labels that I know the story of.

A big part of the fashion industry is very sad, what gives you hope?
Very sad indeed. But I believe it can improve if all links in the fashion chain act responsibly. And I’m talking about consumer, designer, retailer, fashion brand, fashion student, government, textile factories etc. 100% sustainable is difficult because there are so many links. But if everyone contributes, something will definitely change. I’m convinced that more attention is being given to this every year. When Wilma and I started in 2008, it was a strange and unknown niche market. Now it’s receiving a lot of attention, and slowly more and more people are choosing for ethically responsible fashion. And luckily there are many ways to do that.

What are your favorite clothing brands and why?
Do you have a minute? My favorite brands are Dress me Dutch, Van Jos, Rianne de Witte, Studio Jux, Chris Meijers, Hiernamaals, Net A, Alchemist and Elsien Gringhuis. In terms of bags I like Lupelo and Bagged for Good. And the cool thing is that I know the makers personally. I’m also crazy about the Spanish brand Custo. It’s not a sustainable brand but it lasts forever. Finally I like to get clothes and secondhandstores and stores like Brand Mission, WatMooi and Miss Green. It’s all very feminine, timeless and made with love. That’s how I compiled a beautiful, personal wardrobe. I really love my wardrobe.

PART II

What is Awearness Fashion?17
Awearness Fashion is a platform for sustainability in fashion . Our main focus is to share positive stories of designers and fashion labels who are working on sustainability. We want to inspire both designers and consumers to make conscious choices. We organize our annual Fair Fashion Cafe in June, inform on our website and social media and we also organize workshops.

Who’s the face behind Awearness Fashion?
Awearness Fashion was founded by Wilma Mulder and me. Wilma and I have known each other since we were twelve and we share our outlook on life. You could call us ‘practical idealists’. We want to better the world and contribute in different ways. In fashion there’s a lot of improvement to be made so for now we’ll be busy with that. In 2011 we got to know Hasmik Matevosyan who is a true expert on sustainable fashion. We love working with her. Her book ‘Paradigm Shift in fashion‘ that was released last year is a real must!

13When and why did you found Awearness Fashion?
Awearness Fashion Foundation was founded in 2009. We became aware after seeing the movie China Blue about Chinese teenage girls making our jeans under harsh conditions. There had to be a different way! In any case we no longer wanted to participate in this exploitation. The more we researched, the more we realized that the garment industry is extremely harmful to the environment and exploits their textile workers .
We believe in the power of storytelling and use our knowledge and skills in the field of communication, marketing and sustainability in order to tell the story behind your garment. Since we started start we’ve organized several successful events with the theme of clothing and sustainability (including the first ever fair fashion show in the Netherlands, we were on national tv!), aiming to make people aware of the poor working and environmental conditions our clothing is made in, and especially, to show what possibilities we have to contribute to the sustainability of the apparel industry. We believe in positive messages and so that’s what we try to send out.

How can people support and follow Awearness Fashion?11
You can find us on our website Awearness-fashion.nl, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Fantastic if we grow in followers!

What inspires you to do this next to your job?
To be honest, my work in addiction care is very rewarding in itself, but there are other issues I feel for strongly as well. My mission is to make the world a little better by inspiring others to create a nice and responsible lifestyle. I actually have so much more to tell you, but it’s really been great to be able to talk about sustainable fashion on this platform.

What are your tips for women who want a sustainable/ greener wardrobe?
Most importantly; choose your own style and choose consciously! Need inspiration? Follow us!