Sonia Kessler of Native Styling wearing a sweater from Swap Society
For this edition of “Swappers We Love” we’re featuring eco stylist and sustainable fashion blogger Sonia Kessler. We have to warn you that we’re a little biased because Sonia is a close collaborator of ours, but we think you’ll see that she lives up to the hype! Sonia is a French girl living in Los Angeles. Her style reflects her eclectic story and is showcased greatly on her Instagram @nativestyling. After gathering attention for her personal style, Sonia dove headfirst into helping others find their true selves through clothes through her business Native Styling. From sustainable shopping tours to personal shopping with ethical production in mind, Sonia does it all in a completely accessible way. Enjoy learning more about her story below!
What was your style like growing up?
It was kind of all over the place. When I started making fashion choices, it was first trendy and very “nice” I would say, up until I was 14 years old or so. Then I went through an almost goth phase; then an emo phase with really bright hair. That’s when I started DIY-ing my clothes, transforming them when I didn’t want to wear them anymore. When I moved to Paris after high school, that’s where I really started experimenting with styles and clothes making and crafting something that screamed “me” I guess!
Who influenced your relationship with fashion the most?
Most definitely my mom. Still to this day, I think she has a huge influence on my style. Her aunt who lived in her family house growing up was a seamstress, she learned a lot from her and the rest by herself. She can sew, knit, crochet and would make all my costumes as a child. She would always mend clothes, make her own and make them last. I still wear things she made 30 years ago. She knows what looks good on her, what colors suit her. Most importantly, she made me realize what sustainability really was before I even realized it wasn’t the norm: when she was a young adult in the 70’s, she had a really small closet with a few very expensive, well-made designer pieces that she would wear to death. She didn’t have any money. The more I think about it now, the more I realize how shifting our closet habits is all in our mindset. Buying less & higher quality versus a lot of cheap items.
Do you have an early memory of shopping?
Gosh, I was probably 5 or 6 the first time I remember going shopping. Not sure, maybe younger. My mom would often take me to Paris (I grew up an hour away by train) and we would mostly walk around famous department stores like Le Printemps or Les Galeries Lafayette. More so during the Holiday season, as the windows all have different animations every year. It’s a true experience, especially for a kid!
How did you get involved with Swap Society?
I posted a message on one of the many Sustainable Fashion Facebook groups that I am a part of, mentioning I was looking for like-minded people and companies to collaborate with. Nicole messaged me, invited me to her house and the rest is history. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the opportunities, collabs, events and friends that resulted from that; and also for all the great clothes that I have gotten! I honestly get compliments all the time or brag about new pieces I get on the website to most people I meet.
What is your favorite thing about swapping instead of shopping?
My favorite thing is definitely giving a new life (or multiple ones!) to new items other people decided to discard. The fashion industry is such a huge waste enabler and Swap Society helps fight against that. Yes, so do thrift stores. But most pieces you sell at thrift stores end up in landfills because of how many they get. Imperfect pieces are still listed on Swap Society, items that can’t be posted on the website are donated to the Downtown Women’s Center, other charities or upcycled brands, nothing is wasted. If I’m ever done with a piece, I can always swap it back and get something else. Oh and obviously, I can swap online any day, at any time, not just during events or parties!
How has your style changed since you started swapping?
I don’t know that it has really changed, but I definitely make more of an effort to buy versatile pieces that I will be able to use multiple ways. And I might as well do it through swapping! I always ask myself: How many ways can I wear this? Does it fit in with the rest of my wardrobe? How does it travel (in a suitcase or in a bag)?
Audrey Stanton was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently based in Los Angeles. She has attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, London College of Fashion, and received a BFA in costume design from the California Institute of the Arts. Audrey is deeply passionate about conscious fashion and hopes to continue to spread awareness and love for ethical consumption. Visit her blog audstant.com and follow her on Instagram for lots of #slowfashion inspiration!