Updated: Jan 25
Sustainability doesn't stop at the recycling bin. Celebrity chef Vick Vannucci uses her background as a model and designer to show you can shop sustainably as well.
Vick Vannucci is changing the way chefs dress, but fast fashion isn't making it easy on anyone.
Before Vick Vannucci was the head chef at Le Pain Quotidien in Beverly Hills, she was a fashion designer and model who found freedom of expression through fashion. Since moving to Los Angeles, she created her channel based on maintaining a sustainable, no-waste kitchen. Now, she's breaking barriers around how else chefs can express themselves outside of food: through fashion.
"I could always express myself through my clothes," says Vannucci. "But once I became a chef, I felt like half of my personality was hidden behind my uniform. Once I started wearing what made me happy, that happiness showed in my cooking."
Soon, her style inspiration took a different turn once she started to research the brands she was wearing.
"If I am to be a sustainable chef, I have to make sure everything I do aligns with that mission," she says. "I have to support the businesses that believe in the same mission, and that means incorporating sustainable fashion into my life too."
So what sort of sustainable fashion brands has she found to her fancy?
Supporting local will often mean supporting sustainable
As an immigrant and business owner, Vick Vannucci understands the impact of supporting similar small designers as well.
"When I moved to California from Argentina, I left behind almost everything that I knew and had to start over," she says. "So working with a designer who went through the same thing meant that I could understand more than just the product, but also her brand and mission as well."
Owner and Designer Maria Caballero of Vice Edition Jeans knew exactly how to help. Also a Latinx immigrant and fellow fashion aficionado, her styles became Vannucci's go-to in the kitchen -- especially on the days where a chef jacket or apron hides her top.
Maria, originally from Mexico City, built her brand marketing to women from both sides of the border. Now that Vice Edition's boutique is open in LA's fashion district, affordable fashion is even more attainable.
Above: Vick for Vice Edition Jeans
Small batches mean limited production of a single style, meaning no overproduction pollution and
Knowing your designers is only part of the process. Much of the supply-chain production in fashion relies on unsustainable amounts of water and toxic dyes because it's cheap which enables a higher profit margin for many brands who want to keep their prices low.
Luana Loungewear is one of these brands that seek to change this mentality through transparency in its business model.
Owner and designer Cayla Moore rigorously vetted her producers to ensure their entire production process remained as sustainable as possible.
"We had to choose between what was cheap and what was right . . . both for our consumers and our planet" -- Cayla Moore, Luana Loungewear
"When we were creating our business, we had to choose between what was cheap and what was right," says Moore. "Ultimately we chose what was right, both for our consumers and for our planet."
Aside from knowing everyone who has a hand in designing and producing their line on a first-name basis, Luana Loungewear prints their designs directly to reduce water and sends their product out in recycled packaging with no plastics.
Create Your Own Style
Sustainable brands open up a whole new avenue of styles
In fashion, many brands are in competition with each other. When you open the possibility of creating a wardrobe completely out of sustainable materials, your style will last longer.
It's easy to go for cheaper outfits, but cheap doesn't always mean long-lasting. Sustainable products not only last longer, but when designers are intentional about their work, that love also creates a bond with their consumers that lasts, too.
"I dress in what makes me feel good," Says Vannucci. "Wearing clothes that were made with intention is the same as how I cook food with intention: My customers can feel it, and they enjoy it even more."
When she tires of a certain style, Vick doesn't throw it out. Instead, her background in fashion has shown her that style is a pendulum. Sometimes it swings a different way, but versatile staples like denim are always in style, and in a few years one pair of jeans that went out of style will be back again.
Above: Different ways to style a Luana Pareo
This time, those same jeans can be marketed as "vintage" which makes them even more special.
Be Your Own Ad for Action
Advocacy isn't the right path for you? That's OK. Sashay away as a walking ad for sustainability
It's one thing to support sustainable brands. It's another entirely to be a vocal advocate for them. If acting as an advocate for sustainable change in fashion isn't quite your forte, simply shopping sustainably is still a quiet way to encourage large brands to change for the better.
No matter how much Vick Vannucci preaches sustainable living, some of the most impactful teachings come when customers or even strangers approach her to compliment her outfits . . . which she uses to her advantage.
When people ask what Vick's wearing, she could simply tell them what brand she's wearing. But her enthusiasm surrounding sustainable clothes always seems to lead to an informative chat about just why the brands she wears are ones everyone should support.
It Starts Small
Sustainable action is sometimes a privilege that few can afford. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
Creating change starts with consistency, no matter how small. Starting with designers that you can talk to and fashion transparent production lines pave the way for companies to change the way they contribute to the environment.
"If everyone demands proven sustainable practices for their everyday products like fashion, then soon all fashion brands will have to prove they are helping the environment instead of killing it," Vannucci says. "Let's show these companies we won't stand for the destruction of our planet for the sake of our clothes."