In September 2018, journalist Chloé Cohen launched “New Model”, a podcast on “responsible and committed fashion”. A decidedly positive podcast, which chooses to inspire change by showing that there are many real alternatives to fast-fashion. We can read on the website :
“Action remains the best way to build the world of tomorrow. We can change things together, but for that you have to know that it is possible and that solutions exist.”
In order to do this, during each episode, Chloé Cohen paints a portrait of a committed woman and demonstrates that fashion, ecology and feminism are perfectly compatible and should even, ideally, always go hand in hand.
Hello Chloe! To get started, can you tell us more about what led you to the creation of the « New Model » podcast?
Source : Chloé Cohen
I was still living in New York when I created “New Model”. I was a correspondent for the French press, I wrote a lot of analytical articles on the presidency of Donald Trump. He is a I was still living in New York when I created “New Model”. I was a correspondent for the French press, I wrote a lot of analytical sexist, climate-skeptical president, and at the same time I took the American consumer society head on and with a certain violence. I think that all these factors contributed to my ecological and feminist awakening (which was already there but not claimed enough). I also discovered the world of podcasts in the United States, I followed radio specialization at the Lille School of Journalism, it is a medium that I particularly like.
So I wanted to create my own podcast, to have my space for discussion and choose my subjects and guests. Eco-responsible fashion quickly established itself as the main subject: it was a subject that was still little dealt with ( few people around me were aware of the challenges of this industry), so I wanted to inform, in a positive way, about textile industry: show that you could consume differently.
Was your awareness of the need for eco-responsibility in fashion brutal or progressive? What were the main stages?
Progressive! As a teenager, I felt bad about myself, I was very tall, taller than everyone else, and I had the impression that clothes helped me to feel better. Obviously it was wrong, but I bought a lot of fast-fashion clothes. Then, there was the Rana Plaza tragedy and when I was an intern at the Parisien (it was in 2016 I think), there was an event related to the Rana Plaza, I don’t remember what it was precisely, but I worked on this subject and I became aware of the drifts of the textile industry. It was a first moment of awareness.
Then there was the documentary “The True Cost”, a real slap, then conferences, articles, other documentaries… I had put my finger in the gear, I was unable to go back and act like I did not know. So I started looking for alternatives to dress and discovered a whole new world of responsible brands.
Source : The True Cost
Human rights, pollution, animal rights: many criteria are taken into account in the definition of “ethical fashion”, a definition which often varies from one person to the other. What’s yours?
Yes that’s right, everyone places the cursor on what they think is important. However, I think there are big principles: a brand that does not pay attention to the workshops in which it produces cannot be responsible, a brand that produces huge quantities of clothing and wastes cannot be responsible. So I would say that ethical fashion is a type of fashion that takes care of the people and the planet. It is a “transparent” fashion, which underlines what it does well but also what it does less well. It’s a human and honest fashion too.
Because in ethical fashion, of course there is the production of clothing, but there are also the companies behind it, and here ethics must be taken into account too.
For nearly two years now, you have been painting the portrait of a committed woman every Wednesday in “New Model”. Between Antoinette Guhl, deputy mayor of Paris, Claire Suco, founder of the clothing brand Meuf Paris and student and young creator of lingerie brand Louise Aubery of the famous Instagram account @mybetterself, you have received very different people. How do you choose the women you interview? What subjects do you discuss together?
This is a question I am often asked: I choose my guests first with my intuition. Then, I interact with them to verify that the commitment put forward with their project is real and is also present in their daily lives. I also try to diversify the profiles, between designers, activists, models… it is very important to paint a global portrait of the textile industry. I only give the floor to women. There is a certain form of radicalism in this choice that some people find it difficult to understand, but when women will have as much voice as men then maybe I can change this rule. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.
Regarding the subjects, obviously we are talking about their projects, but I especially want to give them a voice as committed women, to understand where they come from, to understand their struggles, their journey.
“New Model” is also not limited to these portraits! There is notably on your site a section called “Good News” and another named the “11 days Challenge”. Can you tell us more about this content?
The “good news” is another, more recent and fairly short (less than 10 minutes) podcast format in the form of a press review. The aim is to show that there is actual good news – in a world when we are constantly inundated with negative and anxiety-provoking news – for the planet, for women’s rights and for the textile industry.
And the “11 days Challenge” is a challenge that I imagined to help those who would like to change the way they consume.
It is not necessarily easy to know where to start and this 11 days challenge is a journey: we start with a few figures to understand the challenges of the textile industry, we continue with some advice to know your wardrobe and avoid buying compulsively, and we finish with detailed information on materials and labels. It is not exhaustive, but it is a starting point to make people want to take the first step to adopt a more responsible wardrobe.
If you had to give 3 tips for an ethical consumption, what would they be?
To begin with, know your wardrobe well: it is important to know what you wear and what you no longer wear (to sort). Then, buy only when necessary, and take the time, think for several weeks, several months before buying a garment or accessories. The third advice would be to learn about the materials and labels to be able to make choices. And in case of doubt about the manufacturing process, do not hesitate to ask questions to brands.
Which eco-responsible fashion brands do you prefer?
Quite honestly, all of the brands I interview are brands I could wear. Right now, I really like the accessories from Rive Droite (for the holidays), the new collections from Mister k. (these are reservations, the brand produces only what is ordered, sp there are no waste). I also really like Patine, Balzac (for its responsible jeans or denim shorts) or Coco Frio for swimwear. I also really like the British brand People Tree.
In early May, you launched a call for donations for “New Model” by announcing that half of the donations collected will be donated each month to the “Maison des Femmes” (“House for Women”) in Saint-Denis. Can you tell us more about this call and this new commitment?
With the podcast I highlight women committed in their daily lives. And I asked myself what else could I do regarding my personal commitment. I talked a lot about the “Maison des femmes” in Saint-Denis with my guests and this project really touched me. To sustain the podcast, paying even subscriptions to broadcast platforms, I need to make money. I do not make a living yet with “New Model”. I have sponsors from time to time, but in addition I have set up a donation system: either one-off donations, or monthly donations as in the form of a subscription. And it goes from 2 euros to 10 euros, each one chooses what he/she wants and can give. And half of these donations will be donated to the “Maison des Femmes” each month. This month for example, I will be able to give 30 euros. It is still very little, but I hope that little by little I will be able to contribute a little more to this magnificent project.
We can feel in “New Model” a realistic but deeply positive vision. We can read on your website :
“the truths are important to say, yes the planet is bad, yes human rights and in particular those of women are threatened, but no, it is not too late. We can still act, act on our scale!”.
After almost a month post quarantine, how do you see it now, this « world of tomorrow »?
At the beginning, with the momentum of solidarity from the start and the numerous committed speeches, I was very positive. But as we can see today, the two months of confinement did not produce the long-awaited change in mentality. It’s normal I think, two months is a lot at a time when we are locked up, but it is little to change our way of living overall. I still remain positive, things are moving, still too slowly for my taste. Our political figures are not sufficiently engaged in my opinion (there is a lot of greenwashing) but the municipal elections of June 28 will be a great opportunity to vote for the city of tomorrow. Local engagement is extremely important.
I have struggled to see what this « world of tomorrow » would look like, I think the awareness that had started will continue, maybe accelerate for sure, but there is still a long way to go. In any case, the new generations of activists and political figures (whom you will hear more and more on the podcast) allow me to keep hoping that the world is indeed changing.
Thank you very much Chloé Cohen, for these precious and inspiring insights.