Slow fashion in a fast world – Maggie Zhou Q&A

Maggie Zhou is a writer and content creator based in Melbourne. Having always had a passion for creating in multiple forms, Maggie interned at the hugely successful cultural magazine Broadsheet, while simultaneously using her online platform to gain an audience through her chic outfits. Today, Maggie is an advocate for sustainable fashion and greenwashing. We spoke to her about her work, how she got her start and where she sees herself in the future!

1. Tell us a bit about your background, where did you grow up?
I was born in Melbourne, and I’ve been lucky to have spent all my 22 years living here.

2. Have you always been passionate about fashion?
Nope! I spent the first half of my teenage years so unfazed about fashion, I really didn’t care about what I wore. I’d say I began to be more curious and experiment in the later half of my teen years.

3. You’re a slow fashion advocate, which is amazing! Can you tell us a bit about what this means?
Thank you! It’s a bit of a vague statement, but it’s in direct opposition to fast fashion and everything it stands for, which includes fast-paced and short-lived trends, bad quality, unsustainable fabrics, and terrible treatment of garment workers. To me, slow fashion is a combination of ethical and sustainable fashion. Fashion that’s conscious, pays its workers living wages, and is considerate about what materials it’s using.

4. How did you start building up your brand on social media?
It’s been a long time coming; I’ve been on Instagram for almost a decade! During this time, I’ve consistently posted about fashion, and in more recent years, have been outspoken about issues I’m passionate about, and have shared some of my writing.

5. You’re also an amazing writer, how did you start your writing career? Did someone inspire you to start writing?
Thank you! I’ve always loved reading and writing, but never thought that it could be my job! I’m still perplexed. From blogging as a teenager, to volunteering at local magazines, I’ve always been someone determined to learn more, and to get my writing out. I’m lucky to have had many teachers who supported me and believed in me in high school, which subconsciously helped me believe in myself.

6. What’s been your biggest achievement in your career to date?
I recently appeared in a campaign for the Islamaic Museum of Australia to help raise awareness for the space they have and the work they do in the cultural space. I’m really proud that I could use my voice for good, to help dismantle some pre-existing stereotypes about fellow Australians. It was also surreal seeing myself on billboards and on trams, and in train carriages!

7. Favourite thing to do when you have down time?
Hang out with my partner. Might sound sloppy and boring, but I’m feeling emotional after being away from him for quite a while because I was working interstate and have been quarantining!

8. What does a day in the life look like for you?
I’ve recently transitioned to full-time work, but I’ve still got freelancing in my blood. A typical weekend may look like getting brunch with a friend, shooting an outfit photo, planning an article, and doing some uni work (almost graduated!). I try to make sure I have enough down time and spend time with loved ones too.

9. What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Not sure, really! Hopefully still involved in the media industry, writing around, and oversharing my opinions online.

7. Favourite thing to do when you have down time?
Hang out with my partner. Might sound sloppy and boring, but I’m feeling emotional after being away from him for quite a while because I was working interstate and have been quarantining!

8. What does a day in the life look like for you?
I’ve recently transitioned to full-time work, but I’ve still got freelancing in my blood. A typical weekend may look like getting brunch with a friend, shooting an outfit photo, planning an article, and doing some uni work (almost graduated!). I try to make sure I have enough down time and spend time with loved ones too.

9. What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Not sure, really! Hopefully still involved in the media industry, writing around, and oversharing my opinions online.

10. Any words of advice for those trying to break it into the creative industry?
Seek a supportive friendship group who will help and challenge you along the way. It’s scary starting, but that’s always the worst bit. Approach each new opportunity with curiosity instead of fear.

11. Are there any challenges you’ve had to overcome?
So many! Particularly being a Chinese-Australian woman, I often have to leap through more hoops than my White counterparts. That means critically analysing whether I am being tokenised for a campaign, or having to have my voice and taken seriously in a room.

Ginny Barro