You may recognize those piercing eyes from a fashion campaign or magazine but upon first meeting Kyleigh, I can guarantee you’ll walk away feeling one thing: happy. That genuinely happy feeling that makes you think, “Wow, some people are pretty awesome.” Whether it’s a late night dance party where she’s breaking it down Cali-style or an event raising awareness for one of her philanthropic endeavors, Kyleigh is in a perpetual state of paying it forward. Her drive to do good is contagious. In a special edition of ’N’s Nomads, in honor of Kyleigh’s birthday, I caught up with her about her latest campaign, #87daysofvintage.
’N: Where are you from?
Kyleigh: Marin County, California –15 mins North of the Golden Gate. I also lived in Alaska for 3 years as a tot.
’N: What did you study at Berkley and how does it impact your work now?
Kyleigh: I studied Peace and Conflict Studies. We focused heavily on structure vs agency–identifying what systems and beliefs are held within society and imagining ways you can exercise your own capacity to invoke change. No matter what I do, I look at the bigger picture and try to connect my actions to a greater goal of bettering our world.
’N: I know your family was involved in United Nations Development Programme work during your childhood. How has that influenced how you use your platform as a model?
Kyleigh: In high school I raised money to build schools in Afghanistan with my family’s non-profit, Roots of Peace. Roots of Peace focuses on teaching farmers in post war countries how to reclaim their crops from minefields into bountiful vineyards and orchards. We work primarily in Vietnam and Afghanistan with over 100,000 farmers. Bruce Weber connected very deeply to our cause and introduced me into the fashion world. Any shoot that followed, I made sure to connect it to my work with Roots of Peace by either providing a donation or awareness.
’N: What does being a humanitarian mean?
Kyleigh: My definition of a humanitarian is anyone who prioritizes the well-being of the planet, it’s creatures or it’s people.
’N: So tell me about your latest project, #87DaysofVintage? What inspired you in this push towards conservation.
Kyleigh: #87DaysofVintage feels like it’s been simmering in me for a long time. The idea and the website I built all came to fruition within 24 hours. I was clearing out my closet for what felt like the 10th time this year. It’s always hard for me to believe how many bags of clothes I end up donating. After reading Maya Singer’s break down of the fashion value chain on Style.com I felt like something shifted in me… I felt like a hypocrite! No good! So I decided to make it fun and challenge my friends and anyone else I can inspire as a little gift for my birthday on May 1st, 1987. It’s like a fashion cleanse… by removing ourselves from the realm of fast fashion for 3 months we can reevaluate what we already own, reassess our our cravings to consume and explore vintage clothing as an option to be green consumers.
’N: In your opinion, what city has the best vintage shopping? What are you favorite stores?
Kyleigh: San Francisco, LA and NY have great curated vintage spots, but they are quite pricey. If you go just outside the cities, you’ll find amazing pieces for a fraction of the price. My all time favorite vintage spot is Aubergine in Sebastopol, CA, an hour North of SF. It’s a giant barn filled with vintage! And best of all, it’s organized by kind so you can go in there looking for something specific like overall shorts and easily find a half dozen to choose from.
’N: As a fashion industry insider, you see a lot of the waste #behindthescenes. In call to actions, people sometimes have a hard time imagining their impact when hit with facts and numbers like “Fashion uses 60 billion kilograms of fabrics a year. And over 90 million items of clothing end up in land fill sites globally each year.” Do you have any advice / suggestions about your ways to counteract the waste you come across every day?
Kyleigh: Yes, the problem is completely overwhelming. But as they say in Afghanistan, qatra, qatra, darya — drip, drip, ocean. By engaging the amazing folks I’ve met within the industry, I think we can affect some change from within. If we tout our vintage fashion sense and ability to utilize the garments we already own to interpret ever-shifting fashion trends, we take away the need for this endless consumption. I’ve done a lot of work focusing on developing countries and wanted to do something that engaged the fashion community to bring about change in a way that felt accessible. This project popped up authentically over night, so we’ll see where it goes!
’N: Who are your favorite eco or sustainable brands and platforms out there right now?
Kyleigh: I mean Stella McCartney does a beautiful job of not sacrificing style for sustainability. I also love SUNO, Anndra Neen, Amour Vert and Freedom from Animals. But most of all… I love VINTAGE! All of my favorite fashion pieces have been vintage.
Join the movement! Post a photo wearing your favorite vintage outfit and tag, #87daysofvintage with a little story about why you love the piece, love vintage, or your thoughts on fashion’s impact on the environment. Go to 87daysofvintage.com for more details.