Circular Fashion With Jessica Steuart-Hoyler

Circular Fashion With Jessica Steuart-Hoyler

Image: Jessica Steuart-Hoyler wearing pre-loved Issey Miyake
Tell us about yourself.  

Hi ST. ROSE, thanks for having me. I’m Jessica Steuart-Hoyler. I’m Chinese/British/Australian. Born in London, I grew up in Singapore, moved to Sydney, relocated to London and am now back in Sydney. Moving has played a big part in shaping my outlook and who I am.

 I work as a fashion brand consultant in Sydney. My son, Fox was three months old when my husband, Fox and I arrived in Sydney last year to visit family. The pandemic hit and we never left. We had been living in London where I was working as Director of Styling at Burberry, and prior to that as Global Styling Editor at Net-A-Porter. 

Working in the fashion industry for both big powerhouses and smaller brands, I feel a responsibility to keep learning about how I can be more conscious in my consumption choices. I’m working on a circular fashion platform, Reciety launching soon.

You've had an incredible career rising high and fast within luxury fashion. Can you share a bit about your career and what it's been like working for such big names within the industry.

My love affair with fashion began when I was at university. At the time, a friend’s mum was fashion editor at Madison magazine and was looking for interns. I was lucky enough to begin interning at Madison and RUSSH magazine. From that moment, I knew fashion was exactly where I wanted to be. I was inspired and wanted to learn everything I could about the industry and put my hand up for every opportunity. I landed a job in fashion PR, while also freelance styling and writing. I didn’t know exactly which area of fashion was right for me, so I immersed myself in any opportunity. Having dual citizenship, I always had my sight set on London. I made the move and pretty much started in the industry again, being in a new city, assisting at Harper’s Bazaar UK and Mywardrobe.com and from there, worked my way up.

In the nine years that followed, my time working in London and at Burberry and Net-A-Porter taught me a lot – about myself and about how you experience fashion, the importance of a strong team and a collaborative environment. At Burberry, I learned a lot working with Katy England, Joe McKenna and Carlos Nazario. They create magic in their work in different ways. I loved the huge scale and fast pace. The strong friendships built. The pinch me moments. There were lots of highs and lows, I believe every experience teaches us something. I’m so grateful for that time.

Now back in Australia, I’m excited to put my international experience to use here with local as well as international brands. I recently joined the Australian Fashion Council Advisory Panel, working on a project to define, celebrate and promote Australian fashion. It’s been great to see the recognition and interest in Australian fashion grow in the last few years.

What inspired the Reciety journey?

There are so many great consignment and vintage stores in London, and I loved visiting Portobello markets on the weekends. For me, the thrill of finding special, unique pieces that tell a story is addictive. Many of my friends in fashion have beautiful wardrobes, often with many things they don’t wear anymore. I saw an opportunity to start a platform, an edited, curated consignment store with a specific minimal and monochromatic aesthetic. I am passionate about circular fashion and how it can be presented in an elevated way. Reciety is a creative outlet where I can contribute towards the circular economy and share timeless stories from people working in different industries, learning as I go about doing better with what we have. Reciety, (formerly Retold) is re-launching soon.

Sustainability and circularity are becoming such big buzz words especially within fashion. What advice would you give to someone looking to create a more conscious wardrobe? How should we be approaching or rethinking the way we consume fashion?
  1. Repairing or altering items in your wardrobe can be transformative and exciting.
  2. Before buying something new, go through your own wardrobe to see what might need to be taken in, adjusted or fixed and you may not need to buy something new.
  3. Existing clothes you already own can also be reimagined. Moving a button on a shirt to a different position can turn it into something a little more avant-garde for example.
  4. Fit is so important. Avoid buying things that are too small hoping they will fit one day. It’s better to buy slightly bigger and have it altered. There is a repair service in the UK accessed via their app called Sojo. It’s the ‘Deliveroo’ of clothing alterations, such a fantastic idea and a great platform for discussion and education on extending the lifespan of your clothes.
  5. Shop circular, consider fashion rental or sharing pieces from your wardrobe with friends. Donate clothes and accessories to charity that you no longer wear.
  6. Buy less and invest in high quality items. If you are buying something new, take the time to research brands you buy from and understand their environmental impact. There are incredible brands making strides in social and environmental practices, and public transparency, like bassike, Esse Studios, Maggie Marilyn and Caes to mention a few.
  7. I love fashion. I get as much joy from something pre-loved as I do something new, maybe even more. I still buy new pieces, but am much more selective about what I buy and where it comes from. I think the key is to slow down and make conscious purchasing decisions.
Favourite pre-loved or vintage item that you could never part with?

A vintage Giorgio Armani black label tuxedo, a dream find from a charity shop in London. It fits me  perfectly and didn’t need altering. It has the most divine velvet lapel and waistband. I adore it.

Do you have a style icon?

Not so much a style icon, but more a time period and silhouettes. I’m drawn to 90’s minimalism and the timelessness of designers like Jil Sander, Calvin Klein and Margiela. I’m inspired by people who are authentic and true to their own style.

In three words how would you describe your own personal style?

 Minimal. Pared back. Monochromatic. (almost three…)

The aesthetic you've defined already with Reciety is unreal, what are some of your biggest sources of creative inspiration?

I like to revisit old magazines as well as discover independent publications. A favourite is Display Copy, a fashion publication that doesn’t feature a single new fashion item. I am inspired by timeless, archival fashion imagery, like anything by Mark Borthwick for Margiela.

 I miss London’s galleries and exhibitions, but now lockdown is over in Sydney I’m looking forward to exploring the Australian art scene. Visiting the Mona in Tasmania is on the bucket list.

Conversations about the way people shop inspire me. Understanding the world around me and my Chinese heritage inspire me to think globally. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

You just recently moved from London back to Sydney. What has that move been like returning from across the pond? Favourite thing about being home/what are you missing most about London?

 Relocating our lives to Sydney wasn’t the plan when we came to visit last year. Like many, the pandemic has brought unexpected changes for us. I feel so lucky with our timing, being so close to family and having that support around us.

Home has made me realise how important connection to nature is for me and how much I love the reassuring presence of water. I’m really enjoying working closely with inspiring Australian brands and creative minds here.

I miss London a lot - Mainly friends and family, the energy of the city, being at the centre of change, and of course Sunday roast at the pub! Not missing the tube one bit.

 You have such a gorgeous family and are a mama to a beautiful little bub, what is your daily routine like and how do you find balance as a busy mum, global fashion consultant and founder? 

Fox is our alarm; most days starts around 6am. Marc and I have our first of many coffees while Fox has his milk. The morning chaos begins, breakfast, toddler bargaining, getting ready and getting out of the house for day care drop off. Every day is different depending on which client I’m working with. Luckily freelancing allows me flexibility to spend days with Fox too. Working days could consist of brand workshops, consulting on a project, researching, styling a shoot, on Zoom meetings, hosting an event or working on Reciety. I love the variety. I collect Fox around 5pm before we have his dinner, playtime and the bedtime routine. Once Fox is in bed, Marc and I have dinner together, quite often I’ll continue working. We are both night owls and find it easy to work late into the night, although I think we need to break out of this habit.

 Some days are more balanced than others. Being super organised the night before helps the next day run a little smoother. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy the night before to get everything sorted, so I mentally prepare all the things I need to tackle in the morning, Marc and I work really well as a team, which is the biggest support.

I am learning to be better at reaching out to my support network to ask for help when I need it, allowing me to balance motherhood, career and personal life. It feels so normal to try to take everything on myself, but I realise that asking for help can be empowering and I need to make sure my own needs are met too. It takes a village.

Favourite self-care rituals?

Still working on it.. does coffee count?? Carving out time for Pilates or a workout helps me focus. Sitting with a coffee and reading the Sunday papers. Being by the water.