Rachael Wang is a woman who knows exactly who she is. This sense of self is even more evident in her sartorial choices. They are purposeful, practical, and even vegan. This California native now runs Rachael Wang Studio, a creative consulting agency in New York. Read on to find out how her style has morphed over the years and her adherence to a vegan lifestyle.
Describe your style in 3 words.
A little silly
What is your ideal outfit or uniform to wear every day?
Vintage jeans, men’s banker stripe shirt, sneakers
Who are your style icons?
Whitney Houston, Georgia O’Keefe, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, George Harrison, Miles Davis, anyone in a uniform…
In what ways has your style changed over the years? Are there pieces you loved then that you wouldn’t wear now, and why?
Growing up, my favorite form of creative expression was getting dressed. I loved the fantasy and transformative power of fashion. Now that I have a creative career though, I spend my time and creativity on the work that I do, and I spend a lot less time and energy on myself. I still love to wear fashion but now I gravitate towards more durable, practical hard working pieces and less fantasy. I think it’s great when fashion is fun and not taken too seriously and I’m lucky that my mom created a really safe and nonjudgemental environment for me to take risks and rebel starting at a very very young age.
Vegans aren’t hard to come by these days, but you are not an average vegan. Can you tell us about your journey to a vegan closet?
I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for about 5 years now and last year I was just fed up with being a hypocrite. I went to really great lengths to avoid meat and dairy products but I wore mass produced leather goods and it just didn’t feel right.
I was excited to have a more simplistic and practical wardrobe and for it to better reflect my values and priorities, like decreasing my consumption of leather, an industry that has a devastating impact on the environment. These are complicated issues though because one of my favorite brands ever, Brother Vellies, really prioritize sustainable practices, material sourcing, fair wages, skill training and empowerment through employment in developing countries. They mindfully use by-product leather in all their shoes and bags and I think that this is their best-case scenario. Making accessories out of synthetic materials that don’t break down in our landfills isn’t a sustainable solution.
There is so much work that needs to be done from research and development to design. But there are some really exciting companies out there like Modern Meadow, which is developing the technology to grow leather in a lab completely eliminating the cruelty and environmental repercussions of industrialized leather farming and Adidas’ Parley collaboration and Volcom’s use of Econyl which both upcycle plastic waste from our landfills and oceans into fiber to make sneakers and swimsuits.
What were the biggest challenges with this new approach to dressing?
The biggest challenge with aligning my values with my fashion consumption is obviously finding products that are made ethically and sustainably and have a high level of design. But I am really excited to dedicate myself to finding those companies and brands and supporting them as best I can. I’m not perfect and it’s a work in progress but it matters enough to me that I’m willing to put in the work and I would love for your readers to share their favorite sustainable and ethical brands and products with me!