A Profile on Clare Press: Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large

By Katie May Huxtable

When discussing the elevation of discourse on environmental sustainability into mainstream fashion, all fingers point to Clare Press.

Press has a number of career highlights to her name, with roles at publications stretching from acting senior writer at Rolling Stone to Fashion Editor-at-Large at the Australian publication of Marie Claire. However, since 2018, Press has carved out a new role within the fashion publication industry in a job title that is the first of its kind – as Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large. 

The publication has taken a devotion to sustainability to the next level, with Press’s role surrounding a dedication to covering the concept within the fashion industry. The decision to make sustainability into a pivotal component in the production of Vogue Australia demonstrates a step beyond the clichéd content of top trends and outfits for every occasion, in order to contextualise fashion within affairs relative to this current moment in time.

In an interview with Business of Fashion, Press explained that she only began to find a true purpose within her work in the industry when she turned her focus to sustainability. However, her advocation of the topic and the problems surrounding it aren’t purely restricted to her role at the Australian publication. She is also the author of numerous books on the matter, including The Dressing Table and Wardrobe Crisis: How we went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion. She runs an accompanying podcast under this title,in which she explores fashion through the avenue of sustainability and ethics. She also sits on the Sustainability Advisory Board for Copenhagen Fashion Week and is one of Global Fashion Agenda’s content experts.

Vogue Australia’s commitment to the topic as a publication was also highlighted in the creation of their March 2018 issue. The release of the March issue annually is one met with much anticipation, as it usually homes in on the upcoming season’s new fashion trends. However, the March issue during the same year as Press’ role designation was guest edited by Emma Watson and was, instead, dedicated to the subjects of sustainability and positive change.

These developments within Fashion Journalism are vital when contextualised with the environmental impact that the fashion and textile industry have the power to enforce. As one of the leading industries creating negative environmental consequences, its production processes are complimented by a society rooted in throwaway culture. As consumers, we have developed an ardent love affair with the low prices and new trends that fast fashion provides us with. Although the creation of the role of Sustainability Editor-at-Large may not have the power to make change at the level of production, the implementation of discourse on the subject raises consciousness among readers and promotes the necessity to both look at and question our fashion choices. It provides readers with a chance to understand that the cost of fashion on the environment is often much larger than the dent it would make in our back account.

The development of Press’s role at Vogue Australia marks a milestone moment within the creation of Fashion publications and in the industry as a whole. It suggests an invitation to discuss the topic on a more mainstream level, moving the ideals of responsible fashion away from the niche and furthering the necessity, to recognise environmental impact as more than just a Spring/Summer or Autumn/Winter fleeting trend.