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"Conscious Wardrobing" Sustainable Fashion with blogger & fashion entrepreneur Aicha Robertson

Aicha started blogging over a decade ago, taking the fashion scene in Australia by storm with her page The Fashion Heist which has over 150k people tuning in to see her discuss collections, give styling tips and talk all things fashion. She's also an entrepreneur with her own clothing label "The Great Beyond" a bamboo based fashion brand.

We sat down to discuss Aicha's journey with fashion; from influences on her sense of style to how she approaches sustainability and actively promotes thrifting and tie dye.

NW - You started fashion blogging in 2010, covering collections; what prompted you to start and how has the journey been so far?

A - My fashion blog started over 13 years ago where I would review the latest collections. Over time it grew and transitioned to Instagram under the handle @thefashionheist, flourished and became my full-time occupation. Few years later, around 2015, my partner Nick and I launched our fashion label, The Great Beyond, with the innovative idea of utilizing bamboo fabric to craft everyday basics.

Embarking on this journey was never simple, but it proved to be a valuable lesson in understanding the immense effort and time required to create a fashion label. Although we're not introducing any new styles, as the business has gradually wound down, we continue to sell a limited selection of our original designs to a select group of customers until our stock is depleted.

NW - What & who have contributed to your sense of style growing up and who are on your fashion moodboard as of late?

A - When I was younger, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were my ultimate style icons, and they continue to influence my fashion sense to this day. Films such as "Heathers" and "Clueless" have also played a significant role in shaping my approach to style.

Currently, my moodboard is inspired by models like Gigi Hadid and Imaan Hammam, whose influence heavily guides how I dress. I find their off-duty styles particularly inspiring, as they masterfully blend runway fashion with everyday wear. This unique combination offers an excellent example of how to adapt new trends to one's personal style while maintaining individuality. It's a fantastic way to keep abreast of fashion while preserving what makes your style uniquely yours.

NW - You mention Clueless & Mary-Kate and Ashley as influences but do you have any streetwear icons or musical artists who have given you a new perspective on fashion & styling?

A - Rihanna stands out significantly for me; her ever-evolving and daring style is a stark contrast to the Olsen twins, yet it captivates me and fuels my interest in exploring more unconventional and wild fashion avenues. Additionally, I have a profound admiration for streetwear icon Annie, known as @sausagelord on Instagram. Annie consistently breaks conventional norms and exudes a sense of fun in her fashion choices. Her bold approach is not only refreshing but also highly inspiring to me.

NW - You yourself have a label which is about sustainable fashion made from bamboo. What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

A - In my perspective, Sustainable Fashion is multifaceted and somewhat complex. My personal commitment to sustainability manifests in my choice of fabrics, whether recycled, bamboo, tencel, or thrifted, and extends to being mindful of how often I plan to wear a piece of clothing.

NW - In today's day and age when trends seem to come and go within weeks, how realistic is sustainable fashion?

A - I take pleasure in wearing my garments multiple times and, if they still possess vitality, I either sell them on platforms like Depop or pass them on to family members, granting them a second life. This commitment to reusing and recycling is intimately tied to my unique personal style, rather than succumbing to fleeting trends that come and go.

By focusing on what truly resonates with my fashion sense, I can maintain this sustainable shopping practice. I believe this approach is an effective way to dodge the traps of endless consumerism, helping to forge a more conscious and responsible relationship with fashion.

Shopping habits are incredibly personal and often shaped by individual income and preferences. Since this can vary significantly from person to person, shifting from fast fashion to more sustainable practices doesn't have to be a one-size-fits-all approach.

NW - Right, how would you suggest people shift away from fast fashion, keeping in mind how cheaper fast fashion brands are vis - a - vis investing in sustainable clothing?

A - Begin by taking a closer look at your wardrobe and assessing what you already have. Are there items that can be repaired, such as fixing broken zips or replacing lost buttons? Perhaps there's an opportunity for creativity like tie-dyeing stained white pieces for a new, fun look. These are cost-effective ways to revitalize your existing wardrobe without setting foot in a fashion store.

You may be surprised at how exploring different combinations of what you already own can transform your personal style. As you become more acquainted with your wardrobe, you'll learn what you actually need. Then, you can search for specific garments to fill those gaps, rather than impulsively buying trendy items that may not suit you.

In adopting this practice of "Conscious Wardrobing," you'll naturally become more aware of your buying habits, making sustainable choices like thrifting easier and more intuitive. By focusing on buying for your unique needs and style, you'll find that you're not just following trends, but building a wardrobe that is truly yours.

NW - You mentioned thrifting, is it something you actively do or do you reckon it's not for you?

A - My journey into thrifting began out of a genuine need. When I was growing up, my mother and I didn't have the luxury of a generous budget for clothing, so we turned to thrifting and tye-dying old clothes to make ends meet. This practice, born of necessity, evolved into a true passion for me.

Thrifting not only provided a practical solution at a time when I couldn't afford conventional fashion but also nurtured my creativity and style sense. Today, I continue to see it as a rich source of inspiration, even though I don't do it as much due to a full wardrobe. But I'm still drawn to the thrill of discovering unique finds, and I make a conscious effort not to overindulge.

My mother also plays a role in my fashion choices, often passing down some remarkable pieces to me. Since I don't have any siblings, her contribution adds a special touch to my collection.

Interestingly, my experience with thrifting also inspired the name of my fashion blog, "The Fashion Heist." I used to engage in what I considered digital thrifting, acquiring many designer clothes from eBay at a fraction of the price. This endeavor felt like pulling off a fashion heist, and thus the name of my blog reflects this unique aspect of my fashion journey. It symbolizes not only my approach to style but also a significant part of my personal history.

NW - Thrifting is honestly an incredible way to get some vintage pieces from classic designers, speaking of which, who are your personal favourites? Which brands and designers would you wish to work with in a professional capacity?

A - A few classic designer names that resonate with me include Carolina Herrera, Oscar De La Renta, Valentino, and Balmain. I'm particularly drawn to designers who embrace bold and dramatic aesthetics, characterized by rich detailing. The opportunity to collaborate with any of these distinguished names would be a dream come true for me.

NW - Fashion month has started; which brands and designers are you looking forward to seeing the collections of?

A - I can't wait to see what's coming up in fashion! Collina Strada always has some cool and out-there designs that grab my attention. And Dion Lee, from Australia like me, mixes art and clothes in a way that's just really awesome. Gabriela Hearst is all about being fancy but also earth-friendly, which I dig. Carolina Herrera's got this classic style that never gets old. And Staud? They've got this fun vibe that adds a splash of color to the often serious world of fashion. It's going to be a great season, and I'm super excited to see what they've got in store!

NW - Any shows on the cards for you? Any shows you'd absolutely love to attend?

A - No big international shows for me this September since I'm in Australia, but that's more than okay! I'm actually really excited to be style managing my local fashion week here in Brisbane. It's a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and showcase local talent, and honestly, it's giving me all the fashion vibes I need right now. There's something truly special about being at the heart of creativity in my own community!

I would love to attend all of them! I enjoy fashion and love watching it come to life on the runway!

NW - Last question! Thank you for being such an incredible interviewee by the way! What is your message for people who are just starting out their blogs? How can they gain traction and get good collaborations and make an impact?

A - Pursue what brings you joy – yes, it sounds cliché, but it's truly essential, especially in a field that demands long-term commitment. If you're not passionate about your subject, whether it's fashion or food, maintaining momentum becomes a struggle. However, if you genuinely love what you're doing and remain consistent, people will notice. I promise you, they will!

Collaborations often emerge from this authentic engagement, especially when you connect with brands that resonate with your values. Focus on that alignment and connection, and success is likely to follow.

And just always remember to be kind. It might seem odd to mention, but I believe everyone deserves to be treated with kindness. In the fast-paced, sometimes impersonal world of social media, it's an aspect that can easily be forgotten. Yet kindness can make all the difference, not just in your professional relationships but also in the fulfillment and joy you derive from your work.


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