Visionary #52: Emma Slade Edmondson

Emma Slade Edmondson’s world is a colourful place to be. The London-based creator, brand consultant, speaker and podcaster is an advocate of sustainable fashion and bringing awareness to the industry. One glance at Emma’s Instagram, and you can see her wardrobe is a spectrum of colour, variety and style, but- unlike much of Instagram’s ‘outfit of the day’ photos- without the landfill, environmental damage and unfair worker pay attached. Emma believes that true style can come from anywhere- as she boldly walks through the world in clothes that are rented, borrowed, charity shopped, upcycled and recycled.

As well as talking on sustainable lifestyle subjects, Emma can also be found with her co-host Nicole Ocran on their podcast Mixed Up, and exploration on mixed heritage culture. Together with special guests, they share day to day stories on growing up with a mixed background- from identity, culture confusion and family, to hair, beauty and relationships. Read on for more about Emma’s experiences and work so far.

Where is home for you?

South London.

What was the idea behind launching Mixed Up with your co-host Nicole?

We felt that there was no readily available dialogue on the nuances and unique experiences of being mixed race so we created one. We hope to build a community and explore mixed identities challenges and experiences in an accessible way.

What conversations about race have really stood out for you in your podcast journey so far?

Gosh – hair comes up a lot. We seem to mention it in every episode and I think I for one underestimated the importance of it until I read Emma Dabiris Don’t Touch My Hair. That’s when I realised the symbolic, spiritual and psychological importance of it. It really helped me understand why it plays such a big part as a visual

identifier for many mixed white and black people. We also talk a lot about straddling two worlds and cultures, about acceptance or lack thereof in our communities, and much more.

What is your hope and vision for the podcast in terms of bringing it to the wider conversation?

We hope to open the dialogue in a warm accessible way that as far as we can tell has never been done before. And not just for mixed peeps but for anyone wanting to gain more insight into race. 

We want to create community and bring people in, make them feel seen and heard and discuss difficult themes at the same time. 

We’ve started a Patreon with a book club and a chat room and we really hope to do events so we can all meet IRL at some point. 

Onto your passion for sustainability in the clothing industry… what initially drew you into the world of eco and vintage fashion?

My love of second hand clothing and my knowledge of how much waste the fashion industry created troubled me. I wanted to find ways of talking about this that people would be genuinely interested in when no one was really talking about it. 

I created Charity Fashion Live back in 2011 to do just that – we recreated London fashion week looks in real time as they came out on the cat walk using only what we could find in a single charity shop at the time. I did this for 7 seasons and people loved it so it opened a wider dialogue around waste, the need for reuse and the value in existing textiles. 

What do bigger fashion brands need to do in order to create more transparency in the industry?

Commit to divesting in growth and focusing on studying, sharing and improving their supply chains when it comes to the way they affect people and planet.

Bigger fashion brands first and foremost need to make sure they ‘pay up’. Those who have still not paid for the orders they made before the pandemic are exploiting garment workers (most of the women of colour) who are now struggling to live and support their families.

Emma (left) with Mixed Up podcast co-host Nicole Ocran (right)

What are your favourite fashion brands?

I love rental because I love the idea of sharing clothes and reusing them so Onloan and Rotaro. I love Maggie Marilyn and Mara Hoffman for design and style which matches exactly my own aesthetic.

I adore Yala Jewellery founded by AudreyMigot-Adholla (and it’s the 1st Jewellery B Corp in the UK) – ethically and sustainably made in Kenya by artisans working in the informal sector. Materials are re-used, reclaimed and recycled. I also love We Are Kin – comfortable but fashion-forward lines and silhouettes and all end of line materials and dead stock. 

Where do you shop for vintage in London?

Charity shops mainly like Traid, Shelter Boutique and Barnardo’s Brixton are favourites. I also love Mabel Vintage and Here After Vintage and Retro Woman in Notting Hill. 

What does your beauty and hair routine look like?

It’s very minimal – I co wash my hair once a week and condition with Raw coconut oil. If I’m really looking to hydrate I currently use the Bouclemé range. I apply the deep conditioner whilst plaiting my hair into a protective style, then leave it for a couple of days if I want to achieve a looser curl. 

Do you practice anything holistic or do anything else for your own self care?

Yoga with Robyn Leonie and she recently introduced me to Tapping.

Follow Emma on Instagram here. Find the Mixed Up podcast on Apple and Spotify.