We talked with Sasha Barrie about styling and sustainability.
As part of our series ‘Conversations with suppliers’ we interviewed Sasha Barrie on her approach as a Wardrobe Stylist in this new era of green shoots. Sasha has been a dream to work with over this past year and together we have seriously challenged our processes.
To give some back story. Sasha got in touch with Perma, keen to collaborate and over the course of two projects, we looked at how we would normally approach a shoot, and to see where we could be positive changes to our behaviour. We kicked off with a conversation around our ambitions/ goals and together we developed a new workflow, with a greater allowance for prep days ahead of the shoot, with the intent to reduce our environmental impact.
As producers, we feel it’s important to push both ourselves and our teams. The changes might not always be right however you can learn a lot from the process.
So who is Sasha Barrie?
Sasha is a stylist with considerable experience in both editorial and commercial settings. After completing her BA (Hons) in Fashion Design she launched her fashion career as a work experience person at Red Magazine over 20 years ago.
At Red she worked her way up to Fashion Editor before moving to the same position at Marie Claire UK. After over 5 years in this role she left to take up a Senior Fashion Editor at Elle and later moved on to Conde Nast’s title Easy Living.
Going freelance in 2012 she has worked with a vast number of high profile brands whilst maintaining a significant editorial presence. She currently works across womenswear, menswear and childrenswear which demonstrates her wide ranging abilities, wealth of contacts and fashion industry knowledge and experience. Clients find her flexible attitude, attention to detail and organisational skills second to none.
Liam Bergin: We ask Sasha why she feels we all need to find better ways of working, how she’s changing the way she does things and what her next steps will be.
How did you traditionally work before collaborating with Perma?
Each job is assessed depending on the brief and budget. If there was a large budget, the wardrobe was purchased and then written off as an expense to be either kept in a client’s / stylist’s wardrobe store or kept by the client to do with as they wish.
Smaller budgets largely require items to be purchased or hired. The wardrobe still needs to be brought in on budget, either by keeping the selection to a minimum or going over budget and returning any excess to ensure budget is not exceeded.
How aware were you/are you of your industry’s push to be more sustainable?
The photographic industry in general is regarded as one which still has a long way to go to reduce its environmental impact.
Saying that many individuals are wising up to what is required and there are thankfully a growing number of companies that are pioneering sustainable practices. I am certainly noticing this step change when I am on set, with varying degrees of success, but it is not only the on set practices that need to be considered. We all need to think about the tools, materials and resources that are essential to the way we operate and consider their origins, impact, energy use etc.
Had you given much thought in the past to how you could work differently?
I was certainly aware of the more obvious things that I needed to do to reduce my environmental impact. For example, I use multi drop rather than direct couriers where I can (I also consider their sustainability footprint) and drop shops / the post office rather than booking individual collections for more far afield deliveries.
I avoid private transport to get to jobs preferring the public options when I haven’t got too much kit to carry (whilst at the same time choosing carriers with sustainability awareness). From a more material standpoint, I re-use hangers and packaging materials (using recycled where available) and re-use any packaging that gets sent to me via non work related purchases.
Working with Perma and using their ‘Carbon Data collection form’ has certainly increased my awareness of other contributing factors, namely the energy used in my working environment (I am already on a green tariff at home) and the impact that any waste I have after a job that cannot be recycled has on the carbon footprint of the job.
Why do you think it is important to find a more sustainable way of working?
It is widely acknowledged that we are already in the midst of a climate crisis and much damage has already been done, however, it is not visible or tangible for a large proportion of the population. Across all creative fields, it could be argued that we have a tendency to allow our goals and visions to take precedence over materiality or waste disposal. As such it is imperative that we should all try to do our bit, it’s not acceptable to just stick your head in the sand and think it’s someone else’s problem.
What elements of styling need to become more sustainable?
The clothing itself and the production methods need to at least continue on this current trajectory. More items should be made in the UK rather than produced abroad. I acknowledge this is again a cost factor, perhaps there should be more help out there for brands to produce in the UK.
In general people need to be more aware of how garments are made and produced. We can look for items made from recycled materials, avoid excess packaging, hire more product for jobs where possible, be more specific with briefs for wardrobe to avoid excess waste and purchasing, do our bit with recycling – paper rather than plastic bags, re-using hangers, working from home where possible, bike couriers rather than cars…
How have you changed the way you work?
How you work is largely dependent on the demand of the client as each job needs to be treated individually. If clients are happy to explore newer ways of working rather than the traditional approach, the methods of the stylist will change/evolve accordingly.
Liam Bergin: It is important to Perma, that we start our projects with a conversation so when the brief landed, we put a call into Sasha to discuss our approach and what can we change. We could balance time frames/how much prep is required with ball park costs/budgets. Essentially, we could estimate with Carbon in mind.
The planning starts early in the process and before costs are approved, working with our teams to ensure we are remaining true to our ethos.
Previously we might have used models own if the budgets didn’t allow for shoot specific wardrobe to be bought/hired. Now, we might explore models own, simply because it is right for the the job and avoids the need to buy new.
How did you find working in this way? What elements were easier and what needed more work? Did you need more prep time? Did this balance with a reduction of time spent post shoot? How did you find working with fewer options?
It was interesting to try a more unconventional way of working and good to explore the best ways of doing so. It was helpful to get feedback from the client as we progressed which meant we were really able to nail down what they wanted from the brief rather than working to a general mood board, as mood boards are still open to a certain amount of self interpretation.
It was also good to know items had been signed off before getting onto set which certainly prevented any surprises on the day and meant that the client knew what they were getting and the brief would be satisfied. It felt a little strange working with fewer options as it’s natural to come over prepared for jobs “just in case”.
The backing of the client meant we were able to operate in this way with options only being size related as we had to be prepared for any curve balls (are sizes given ever accurate??).
The main learning across all our shoots to date, is that the overall process did require more prep time to get down to specifics, but saying that it did also reduce the time spent post shoot a little, so all in all things still came in at a workable cost.
Liam Bergin: From a producers point of view, it’s not always about saving money. Yes it is always an important factor however its is also about spending budget wisely.
We can take from Peter to give to Paul. Invest more into the prep and ensure savings are made in other areas such as within the wardrobe allowance.
Did this change in the way you work affect how much you enjoyed your job as a stylist?
I was still responsible for the selections within the brief. I usually bring together outfits before arriving on set anyhow, so in that sense it was the same and did not affect my enjoyment of the job.
Having trialled this, will you continue to work in this way?
Again, It is largely client dependant. If they have to have the time to do the meetings/run throughs, sign things off and know what will be on set before the day.
I can still work with a more traditional method however using live decks does allow for client and agency to communicate effectively throughout the prep stages and does create a level of efficiency to the process.
We don’t always need to have a meetings or fittings. The work flow can be digitised and if a client wants to see wardrobe on the talent then of course we can bring more options to set.
What will your next steps be?
To explore more ways of incorporating sustainability into my day to day work and to be open to further adaptations to traditional ways of working.
What would your advice be to someone working in styling and wondering how to begin to work more sustainably?
Look at every aspect of the job…however small a change may seem, every little helps. Engage with clients to see if they are open to new ways of working and suggest how things can work differently or even if this is an area that they are conscious of.
Support sustainable brands and practices and be aware of new developments as it is an ever changing area.
Liam Bergin: Sasha’s commitment to reducing her department’s impact on the environment has been inspiring. She was willing to change the way she worked and applied her energy into developing new methods with us with great results.
She continues to review, research and improve the way she works, and we’re excited about continuing to work together to further refine and push for a more sustainable future for styling.
From a production point of view, we take away learnings with each and every time we work with Sasha. We are able to have conversations with our agencies and our clients on our proposed approach and to back it up with data.
From our experiences, more often than not, clients and agencies are open and willing to explore better business practices and we are grateful to our teams for the continued commitment to finding a more sustained approach to shoot production.