Livia Firth wants you to think about fashion. Co-Founder of Eco Age, the sustainability consultancy that has transformed and redefined the red carpet, Firth is an ethical fashion activist whose initiatives such as Green Carpet Challenge and #30wearschallenge raise the profile of fashion and fashion brands by putting sustainability, ethical practices and conscientious marketing in the spotlight.
Tell us a little about how you and [your brother] Nicola Giuggioli started Eco Age?
Eco-Age was born in 2008 out of Nicola’s idea who saw a gap in the market for people wanting to make their homes more sustainable and not knowing where to go. So we opened the first ever shop on the high street selling not only the most beautiful eco design furniture and furnishings, but also offering a walk-in consultancy for home owners on all sorts of eco solutions for their houses. We created the first eco materials library in Europe and it was very different from how Eco-Age has evolved through the years.
How has Eco-Age evolved over the past decade?
When I started the Green Carpet Challenge in 2010 with journalist Lucy Siegle (who challenged me publicly to wear only eco fashion on the red carpets of the Golden Globes and Oscars when Colin received the nominations for A Single Man) then we started consulting lots of fashion houses on sustainability and supply chains – and Eco-Age evolved again. Today we are a full circle consultancy specialised in sustainability – from creating strategies to implement them and communicate them, with PR and event and digital teams in house as well. It’s like a “turn key” service on sustainability for companies worldwide.
Tell us more about the companies you work with.
Our clients vary from fashion and jewellery companies (like Diesel and Chopard for example), to brand ingredients (like The Woolmark Company or Candiani) to inbuilt environments (like Wembley Stadium and Welltower). But we also consult with governments or organisations to create bespoke activations to promote sustainability through fun events, such as The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange or The Green Carpet Fashion Awards. Let’s say that we do not get bored at Eco-Age!
Where do you envision Eco Age in 5, 10 years/What is your dream for Eco Age?
To conquer the world?! It is very interesting to see how sustainability is changing over the years. We went from no one understanding what it was (when we opened the company), to being a simple ticking box exercise in CSR reports, to being “fashionable” and trendy. Then the pandemic hit us hard and now finally sustainability means what the word actually says: lasting in time. If you want to have your business still alive and profitable in 5/10 years time, you must act in respect of people and the planet. Otherwise goodbye. So my dream for Eco-Age is to help as many companies as possible to turn around and be future fit.
You’ve been called an “ethical fashion campaigner” is that an accurate description?
100% yes, And this is the beauty at Eco-Age – we are consultants yes, but all of us at heart and in action are campaigners and activists. We never talk about consumers, but only about active citizens. This is the only way forward
There is an Italian vibe to the Eco Age ethos. Would you agree?
Probably yes and the fact that two Italians founded it doesn’t help does it?!! But I think also that the Italian attitude, certainly the one from my generation, is intrinsically more “sustainable” and common sense.
What kind of questions should consumers be asking? What advice do you suggest for responsible shopping?
My starting point is always – should I buy this? Do I really need it? This is why, after a decade of people asking me what should I buy and which brand is good and which one is bad, we created the #30wears campaign. Which helps adopt a very simple rule to our shopping habits: before buying anything, ask yourself “will I wear it a MINIMUM of 30 times?” if the answer is yes, then go ahead, but you will be surprised how many times the answer is… no. So put it back and walk away!
Interview by Erica Firpo.