Project StopShop | Elizabeth Illing

I stumbled across Elizabeth Illing's vision one day on instagram when her project stopshop profile had little over 200 followers. I was instantly captivated by the genius approach to communicate the issues of fast fashion, and found myself almost re-converted to the world I already campaigned for. A week or so later after I had re-grammed her iconic tongue-in-cheek label so had many, many others - including the reputable Fashion Revolution account, viral success became imminent.

Now clocking 2441 followers and counting, I caught up with Elizabeth to pick her brains on such an innovative approach.

Tell me about Elizabeth before Project Stopshop?
My name is Elizabeth, I’m 23 and I’ve recently graduated from studying Fashion Promotion and Imaging at the University for the Creative Arts (Epsom). 

What made you choose FPI as a discipline? 
Before going to University I did an Art Foundation in Bristol, my hometown. That year allowed me to explore so many different creative disciplines and lead to me discovering graphics, model making, film, animation, print making etc. I chose FPI as a degree because it provided me with the opportunity to develop these new skills further and then apply them in a fashion promotion context. People don’t realise how many other jobs there are in the fashion industry other than just Fashion Design roles!

Where did your interest in sustainable fashion stem from? When did it begin?
I enjoy buying new clothes and developing my style however I have conflicting feelings towards some brands and their questionable manufacturing processes.. As a fast fashion consumer I knew that I was part of the problem and this is something I wanted to address.

Stopshop developed as my final major project for my degree, I liked the idea of doing an ‘anti fashion’ project for my fashion promotion degree! But it’s really more ‘anti fast fashion’ in particular.

I myself attended UCA Epsom, graduating in 2015 from the BA Fashion course - and often talk about the lack of sustainable education, has this changed in recent years? 
I feel like sustainability is becoming a more mainstream topic and is often mentioned lectures and brought up as an element to consider during live briefs and projects. But it is definitely something which is still sometimes viewed as being ‘unfashionable’ as some people struggle to see it as an interesting topic. Which is what I wanted to tackle with Stopshop and change peoples misconceptions.

What was it like being shortlisted for the Dame Vivienne Westwood Sustainable and Ethical Award at GFW? 
It’s so cool that I was shortlisted! I wasn’t expecting to go through to that stage at all, because I thought that the award was aimed more at Fashion Design students and their ethical products/collections. I am really grateful that I was able to show my work to the judging panel, I received some great feedback and they were very positive about Stopshop being one of the only communication projects to be nominated for this award. 

What words of encouragement/advice would you give to young creatives?
I always feel like some people don’t understand how much time and effort creative people put into their work, especially when you’re doing a creative degree. Don’t let the opinions of other people distract you from doing what you want! The long nights of sketchbook work may feel soul destroying at times but when the project gets off the ground it’s so worth it and really satisfying. 

What have you learnt and overcome on your Project StopShop journey so far? Would you have done anything different?
I have learnt that sharing my work on social media was an amazing idea - I wan’t expecting such a strong and positive response! But I love that people are appreciating and connecting with my work. It is hard work though and I have learnt that I need to plan and schedule more carefully, graduate life is busy! 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I aim to be still living and working in London, I want to be creating visual communication work whether that be independently or for a company/brand. I don’t have specific plans because I have learnt that it’s less stressful to just go with the flow and see where it leads you, first on the list is to get as much industry experience as I can within set design/viscom/prop styling/graphics/print.

What do you think is the most effective way to spread the message of destructive fast fashion and begin to convert consumers to a different way of thinking? 
Going purely on the reaction of my audience I would say that my Value Labels have been most effective, using real life quotes from consumers has a shock factor. I think people read the quotes and then question whether they are the same in their fast fashion habits, because it seems more shocking when you isolate these opinions and see them there in black and white. The humorous angle works well because nobody likes being preached to about sustainability! It needs to be lighthearted but also hits home. 

Which item in your personal wardrobe is your favourite and why?
I love anything striped! I can’t choose one item but I’m trying to refine my wardrobe so that I’m left with the items that I wear the most.

How have your own views changed/evolved during your Project StopShop journey? Have the views of those close to you also changed?
Surveying my wardrobe and looking at the amount of wasted garments I own has encouraged me to only buy what I need and invest in better quality garments that I will get more use from. Researching ethical fashion brands to promote on the website has also given me better options. My friends - in particular the ones who took part in Stopshop have been surprised by the following the project is building up and this has helped to demonstrate the importance of the campaign.

What’s next for Elizabeth and Project StopShop?

After the recent positive feedback and attention Stopshop is receiving on Instagram I have felt encouraged to continue the project and to make more creative content highlighting the issues of fast fashion consumption! There are also a few possible collaboration opportunities in the pipeline and I would love to work with more like minded people on this topic.

Follow the Project Stopshop journey via instagram or pay a visit to the website to find out more.