This week we interviewed the lovely Gwen Isgro for our interview series. We are so excited to share with you Gwen’s thoughts on veganism and the impact it has had on her partner and family. Gwen gives us the low down on exactly what it’s like as a vegan fashion designer and also choosing cruelty-free options where possible. Read on to find out more…
Hi Gwen! Tell us a bit about your childhood and background and how you feel that has influenced you today?
I grew up in a large Italian family. The food has always been an important means of communication for us but I only discovered its true essence when I left home and became vegetarian; now almost 8 years ago. At that moment I realised that the food was not communication, but nourishment for life.
When did you decide to go vegan and why?
One day after returning from a lecture at the University, I was sitting in the kitchen eating a salad and a piece of goat cheese. At that time I always watched a television channel (now suspended) that aired documentaries, and very often the documentaries spoke of factory farming. That particular day the channel was showing a documentary on the production of milk and cheese. Since that day I cannot ever forget the large cow that was being milked that had tumours all over it, while the milk came with blood, faeces and other horrible things.
How did you first find going vegan, particularly with your job?
Be vegan and working in fashion is very complicated. The second year of working in a large Italian fashion company I was moved to the fur Department. It was the worst year of my career; every morning I had to get into office and have to see and smell those poor foxes hung on hooks. After 11 months I gave my resignation and I moved to Sydney.
Years later it still remains complicated for me as a vegan inside fashion companies. However, I have now learnt to not be so affected and I continue to try to make every effort to use environmentally friendly materials. I learnt that whenever there is the opportunity you must do everything possible to protect our planet and its animals. Anyone can help our planet with a very small gesture; whether it’s by limiting your animal intake or choosing a product made from a non-animal derived material.
What do you friends and family think about you being vegan?
I met my partner in a restaurant that served only animal products and that night I ate a salad without dressing and baked potato. After a few weeks of dating, he began to drink green juices and smoothies, then he actually stopped eating meat, cheese, and fish. When we left for Australia he was completely vegan so it actually completely changed his eating and way of life too.
My father was also influenced by me going vegan and approached a largely vegan diet to defeat diabetes. He walked a lot which helped, and today he is vegetarian, healthy and happy. Unfortunately, the rest of my family continues to eat very badly, but sometimes I can get them to eat vegan cakes instead of buttery pastries!
What’s your one health tip?
Canapa protein in morning smoothies, and kombucha instead wine are great substitutes and incredibly healthy.
What is it like being vegan in the city you live in?
It’s terrible! The Mediterranean diet is in itself a great diet; it is balanced and rich in vegetables, fruits and wholegrain carbohydrates. Unfortunately however in Rome the pace of life is very frantic and people are used to eating their pizza and pasta on the street. Here it is very difficult to eat raw and gluten-free, so I try to gear up and always prepare lunch to take to the Office. However things are beginning to change with the first slow food, raw vegan places now opening up… At last!
Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?
For many reasons; I think the most important one is that people have realised that our planet does not have infinite resources; so the least we can do is to try to live together with the world in balance and harmony. The second reason is that anyone who takes an interest in a vegetarian or vegan diet realises how easy and cheap cooking is, how colourful and joyful it is to have a kitchen full of fruits and vegetables, and how much easier it is to stay in shape.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by many things; I can say that this whole world inspires me! Sometimes you just need to see a person walking down the street, a detail of architecture, a song, or a beautiful day to be inspired. I would say though that my favourite source of inspiration are stories! These can be in books, short stories, novels, or poetry! The world inside the world inside the world has always fascinated me!
What’s your average day like?
Usually, the first thing I do when I wake up is to prepare a rich smoothie! My favourite is banana and roasted cacao beans, with hemp protein and dehydrated coconut. Then I love to drink a coffee with chicory and eat some cookies. In summer it becomes green smoothies for the morning with spinach and blueberries, and I eat toast with avocado seeds and sprouts. If the weather is nice I go to the office by bike or on foot. Usually, I dedicate my mornings to research in magazines or on the internet or in some vintage shop. Vegan sushi lunch and during the afternoon I dedicate myself to fashion drawings and designs.
Before getting pregnant I used to finish my day at the gym or doing yoga, but during pregnancy, I became a little lazy, so I came home and I spent my time reading or needlework. I’m so boring!
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Unfortunately, I don’t think that in Italy or in most of Europe there is the right balance between work and leisure. I wish I had more time to spend in the woods with my baby and do what I like.
What’s the best part of your job as a Fashion Designer?
Researching. The part I love the most is the creative process behind the creation of the mood boards. Imagining the woman who would wear the clothes, what she would say or do, and how she lives. I love to browse through magazines, watch films, and find old photographs, stories, photo galleries to inspire me about the woman. Imagination is definitely the best part.
What words do you live by?
Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them –Shantaram.
What’s next for you?
Find a new city, meet new people, starting a new job, read a new book, breathe fresh air.
We absolutely loved catching up with Gwen and hearing all about her life as a vegan fashion designer.
If you are a vegan business, individual or blogger and are interested in being interviewed as part of our interview series, please get in touch at contact@.
All images via Gwen.