Monica Diaz, Sustainable Fashion Consultant & Host of the Recently launched “Stylishly Sustainable” Podcast is On Our Radar
Today, industries that care about the environment are looking at how best to reduce their carbon footprint. While in past years brands seemed to mainly pay lip service on the issue, the proliferation of wild fires, overheating environments, torrential downpours of rain, wild storms and destructive hurricanes are commanding heightened attention. This compounded with the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow sounding the death knell, calls for managing Earth's looming climate disaster are approaching a crescendo.
The Fashion Industry reportedly ranks as “the second-highest for the world's carbon footprint.” Contributing to this factor is the massive amounts of water used in clothing production, toxins and chemicals from dyes which end up in our waterways, over-production, poor labor conditions in some instances, and the use of synthetic fabrics in clothing which releases micro-fibers into the oceans, and, according to Sustainable Brisbane “takes up to 200 years to breakdown in landfills.” No one who loves and is passionate about fashion should want to know that the clothing which covers them and make them feel special is responsible for Earth’s environmental degradation.
In lieu of the bleak assessment of the fashion industry’s footprint, brands with conscience are beginning to pay close attention, taking decisive action and putting in place sustainable fashion practices to begin to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions into the environment.
As part of our lifestyle focus, we broached the topic of sustainability in fashion with a long-time ally and friend - who is passionate about fashion, is experienced in the industry, and, in addition to her role as a Style Coach has been working to highlight sustainable fashion practices as part of her business persona.
Meet Monica Diaz, Style Coach, Sustainable Fashion Consultant and the Creator and Host of the recently launched “Stylishly Sustainable,” a Podcast which serves to highlight the topic and bring focus to brands which share the vision and working to achieve sustainability in fashion.
Q. With the reporting on waste in the fashion industry, how are you helping your clients concentrate on sustainability today?
A. I love this question because it has become my focus and passion. I realized sustainability in fashion was becoming the future and that this is my time to be part of the future of fashion. My career started in textiles and product development so learning about sustainability from raw materials to the end consumer goods was right up my alley. I am fascinated and love it all. I took the lockdown period to enhance my knowledge on the topic and gain certification on sustainability in fashion.
By helping my clients to make better fashion choices, to be less wasteful and support sustainable brands are some ways I promote sustainability. Here are other areas of focus when working with clients:
I coach clients on acquiring quality pieces that will last
I introduce clients to new sustainable brands
I help clients to clear out their closets and direct them on how to sustainably rid of unwanted or unused clothing
I help clients make choices on clothing that compliments their physique, and counsel them against making bad fashion choices that will ultimately end up with a closet full of clothing they do not wear
I educate clients on how to take care of their items
I promote slow fashion tactics, which ultimately means a more thoughtful, intentional approach to purchasing clothing with ethical labor practices and the health of the Earth top of mind.
These are all baby steps that in the long run will transform closets, lifestyles, and clients’ carbon footprint.
Q. How do you determine someone’s personal style?
A. I like to get to know my clients inside and out. What I mean is I want to first find their likes and dislikes, their desired lifestyle and look, and finally what colors, patterns and styles would compliment their physique and unique personality.
One of the most important areas I like to emphasize is image - bringing attention to that all-important first impression we make in those precious seconds before we speak. That moment when others have assessed us and determined whether they want to get to know us more and if they think we are credible. I assist my clients in looking their best, learning to exude confidence and command a positive first impression.
Q. Do you find men are particularly concerned with their personal style?
A. I find men to be very concerned about their personal style. They know that if they want to get ahead they need to look the part, but most men I have encountered are not interested in shopping. As I mentioned before I started my career in textiles and product development in better menswear. It was here that I learned how much more willing men are to get things altered for quality. When I work with my male clients 90% of the time I do custom clothing because the male client understands and covets personalization.
Q. What tidbits can you offer someone considering an image makeover?
A. One needs to be focused and determined to effect authentic and lasting change. Being open to pushing outside one’s comfort zone if necessary, setting goals and envisioning and being honest about a desired style persona is a great start.
Here are a few small changes that can make an impactful difference:
Wear clothing that fits well. Fit is key to looking stylish and well put together.
Dress for the occasion. Being appropriately dressed makes one feel relaxed and confident.
Always buy the best quality you can afford. Consider purchasing clothing made from biodegradable fabrics.
Get a great haircut. Looking updated and polished requires a great hairstyle.
Finally, keep it simple. You don’t need to do a lot or buy a lot. You want your personality to shine and not be overpowered by your fashion choices.
Q. What other services do you offer to augment someone’s style persona?
A. I offer one on one style coaching both in-person and virtually. With my female clients, I have begun a new group-style coaching. As women, i find that we like to learn along with others and get to have a community experience.
I offer custom clothing services for my male clients working with J. Hilburn custom clothiers. This client is usually a busy professional that does not have time to shop and wants quality pieces. I get to assist them in putting together a wardrobe that works for them in every aspect of their lifestyle.
Q. In your expert eye, what are some trends you see coming online for men and women in terms of look and lifestyle?
I think as a society we are still trying to figure out our “new normal.” I cannot exactly predict the future of fashion, but, I created a presentation on post-pandemic trends for a major tradeshow organization and here are some of the key fashion and lifestyle trends I found:
The work-from-home trend is here to stay. Going forward 55% of employees will be working from home in some form.
Tops remain a key item, because virtual conferences and remote working are here to stay.
Since comfort has become an important concentration, all bottoms for both men and women are made of comfortable fabrics with fewer buttons and zippers. Pull-on pants and skirts are here again
Women are buying dresses more because of their ease and ability to make you look polished
Happy colors and soothing colors are also on-trend. These colors reflect our mood, we are happy to be out, but still need to feel comfortable and soothed.
Knit tops for both men and women. The ease and comfort of a knit are designed to be more fitted and stylized
Fabrics are softer, relaxed but still luxurious
Masks are in. We will still be wearing them for protection against disease and pollution
The addition of pockets to both garments and accessories to accommodate for hand sanitizers and phones
Q. What would you say to someone who considers this service out of reach?
A. I would encourage them to take advantage of my complimentary 15-minute consultation, because this offers the client and me the opportunity to get to know each other and to assess whether the service would be a good fit and worth an investment in enhancing their look and style. I would also encourage them, if they have the means, to consider consulting a professional with whom they can work collaboratively on a vision for their future look and style.
Because I understand working one on one may be out of reach, I have been putting together group coaching classes and working on an online course. These are options that can help a client reach style transformation at their own pace and at great price points.
Q. Is post-pandemic going to be an an exciting time for a Style Coach?
A. The world has changed and hopefully for the better. We are coming out of lockdown and are ready to embrace life and dress up again. Some are calling it the roaring 20’s again. The optimist in me sees post-pandemic as an exciting time for all of us.
When it comes to my business as a style coach I see my services are needed now more than ever. One of the major reasons is work attire as we knew it has shifted. The lines are even more blurred on what is too casual for work. Clients are focused on sustainability.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we were all new at video conferencing and showing up in at-home attire aka sweats. But as the months past, expectations shifted and now required to show up in more work-appropriate attire. The problem was no one was clear exactly what that meant. So it was dressing from the waist up, but that is not going to cut it anymore.
Now that we are returning to the offices, a new casual that looks well put together, elegant and comfortable is “in vogue.” This is where I coach individual clients or conduct corporate seminars on the best wardrobe solutions to look current, appropriate and comfortable in our post-pandemic world.
About Monica Diaz
While advancing a vision of helping clients chase sustainable goals, as a style coach Diaz is working to help clients discover how the right image can ignite invaluable changes in their self-confidence, career and relationships.
For the past 20 years, Monica Diaz has been “creating and curating au courant images for her clients.” She has served as a fashion correspondent and featured guest for networks such as MBFW, Univision and Ehow. Diaz counts Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Carolina Herrera, JCrew, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Bergdorf Goodman and the St. Regis Hotel among brands and Fortune 500 companies with which she has partnered and led projects. Monica is an alumni of Fashion Institute of Technology, with certifications in image consulting and sustainable fashion from The London Image Institute, London College of Fashion and Copenhagen Business School.
Monica Diaz is an advocate for causes she deeply cares for, such as Fashion Fights Cancer, NY Cares and has served on the committee for St. Jude Children’s Hospital Gala Por La Vida events.