Hilary Swank Talks Best Red Carpet Moments, Clothes Made To Last, And Why She’s Joining Forces With Ecofashion

by Freya Drohan

When one thinks of Hilary Swank’s body of work, the idea of style and substance comes to mind. The Oscar winning actress is proof that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive—after all, even when she has been unrecognizable while playing a character on our screens, there’s always a sense of elegance about her performance. And so it would make sense that the Hollywood heavyweight views her clothes in the same manner. That’s why she launched her brand Mission Statement to begin with; to debunk the idea that considerate, conscious fashion that’s created properly can’t be gorgeous too. Now, she’s joined forces with pioneering entrepreneur and thought-leader Marci Zaroff, who’s been nicknamed the ‘godmother of sustainable fashion’ having originally coined the term “eco fashion” way back in 1995. Ecofashion, the company, has not only acquired Mission Statement, it’s partnered with Swank (and ANTM favorite Nigel Barker!) in a larger way, making her the co-creative director of another one of its brands, YesAnd, too. Here’s how she’s settling into her new role as an industry influencer! 

We’re excited to chat about this new venture, but let’s start by talking about your brand, Mission Statement. What was the impetus for launching it in 2016?
I was really into the idea of creating sustainable clothing before that was the zeitgeist. It was about making things that were multifunctional and unparalleled in quality, while also ethically and responsibly made. This was something that I was looking for in my own life: clothing that I could wear pretty much anywhere that stood the test of time, so that I didn’t have to continue to buy another cashmere sweater because the one that I bought inexpensively or that had plastic in it (and wasn’t really cashmere!) was pilling. I didn’t want to be a part of this crazy [consumerism]. I love to create, and I love to collaborate, so for me it was really a fun venture into a new space that parallels the film industry in that you have a goal—and then you bring artisans and experts in to see it through.

Ecofashion is a ‘greenhouse’ or a stable of sustainable brands. Can you expand on what this partnership will mean now that Ecofashion has acquired Mission Statement?
The partnership between Mission Statement and Ecofashion stemmed from Marci’s and my belief that affordable fashion doesn’t need to be cheaply or irresponsibly made. Which is what a majority of what’s hanging on the racks is. And Ecofashion is a vertical sustainability network, where everything is ethically and responsibly made from factory to the end user. It’s what’s best for the planet first, period.

How did you first meet Marci or come across Ecofashion?
Someone introduced us and we got talking about having these like-minded goals. I was talking about wanting to make Mission Statement more sustainable and affordable. And she was talking about how Ecofashion actually offers a private label service where any apparel company can use its infrastructure to create their clothing more sustainably. I loved this idea. And I thought, ‘Well, this is a no-brainer; to come together and we can also sign up many more companies that want to be more sustainable but don’t know how to do it.’ That was really how it all kind of came together. The fun thing is that Mission Statement already had beautiful, high performance, stylish clothing, and Marci has this incredible sustainable infrastructure, so now we can take both of our [plans] to a whole new level.

Hilary Swank for YesAnd

What do you hope and envision the near future for Mission Statement looking like?
Going forward, Marci’s design team and Mission Statement’s design team are going to be introducing new lines of clothing together. It will merge Mission Statement’s beautiful lines with Marci’s sustainable wizardry. I call her a sustainable wizard because she was doing this long before anyone was even talking about it!

As part of the partnership with Ecofashion, you’ll also be co-creative director of the brand YesAnd. Tell us more about what that will entail?
Continuing to design clothing that I find is multi-faceted and hopefully beautiful!

What is important to you when it comes to the backstory of how your clothes are made?
The clothes [with Mission Statement] originally were made in heritage factories in Italy and Portugal. Factories that had made [clothes for] Prada, Moncler, and Chanel, to name a few. I was trying to make very beautiful clothing that was also at [a more attainable] price point, while having that same quality. I’d still like to make clothing that is even more reachable for a wider audience and that’s what we’re going to start doing through this partnership. It’s so wonderful that I have found Marci. She has created sustainable fashion brands in a legitimate way. A lot of people throw the word around, but she has been building this for many, many years, before it became [a bigger priority].

You have a really large platform as an actress and someone who can influence habits. What do you hope to inspire in people and their consumer habits?
That’s a great question. I hope that people realize what is truly happening to our planet with this mass consumption. I mean, not just clothing but everything. Now that I’m a new mom, [I’m thinking more about] toys and goods in general. Our mass consumerism is depleting the resources of this planet and hurting it greatly. I remember learning that the average consumer will wear something they bought [from a fast fashion label] one and a half times before throwing it in the garbage. They don’t even pass it down because it’s not worth it and no one wants it. And so we are really doing harm in a terrible way, and it’s something that needs to be talked about further so people really understand what they’re doing when they over consume [fashion] and when you buy something you don’t need. So, I think what we’d like to do is just continue to educate people through realizing that you don’t need to spend a ton of money to actually buy a nice piece of clothing that is going to stand the test of time and that you can pass on to someone. And that you can get all your needs met while buying less. Kind of the way the Parisians do it! I lived in France for three years and they have such a minimalist wardrobe. It was so effortless, fashionable, cool, and hip. I think we need to get back to that.

Hilary Swank for YesAnd

Did living abroad influence your style, and in what ways does being an actress and someone in the public eye influence how you dress?
I think that my style has been influenced because at a very young age I was traveling the world. I got to explore different cultures that do things differently than mine. It was such a gift, because it influenced who I am in my home, how I eat, how I dress, and my outlook on life too. The culturally rich diversity that made up who I am by traveling since I was 15-years-old has been one of the greatest gifts. When I started in the industry you always dressed up to go to an event, which is nice. It’s nice to be festive. But I also think what has led to more consumerism is the idea of not wearing something twice on a red carpet or in press. We need young people to see people who are of influence doing something that they want to emulate. If they don’t see someone wearing something twice, they don’t want to either. And it can be as simple as that, which sounds crazy. I like to wear vintage. I just did a big press tour for Ordinary Angels, which opened on Friday. I don’t always have the time with two babies and a busy life to find vintage, and I equally can’t wear Mission Statement to every event, so I need to work with designers to help me get dressed for the day. But I try to find new up-and-coming designers, and support them and their art, while also try to be responsible about it and wearing and re-wearing different types of clothing.

Has becoming a mom changed both your fashion habits and overall thoughts when it comes to buying things?
Right now, it’s all about comfort and the ability to have things get thrown up on and pooped on and made a mess of, and be able to easily go in the washing machine! Which is what Mission Statement is. Even our cashmere, by the way, can go in the machine! For me, that’s a big thing. People don’t want to use chemicals that pollute the Earth further and it’s also expensive to go to the dry cleaner. So creating things, like cashmere that can get more beautiful as you wash it, is a priority. It’s just about ease. I don’t really want to think about what I’m putting on. I just want a nice, rounded closet that is easy for this moment in time in my life.

Hilary Swank for YesAnd

Is there any character in fashion history that you would ever like to take on in a movie role?
I can’t really think of anyone at this exact time, but I would definitely say someone with a character of their own. Not overly styled. Someone diverse!

And we would obviously have to ask you what your favorite ever red carpet moment is, especially with the Oscars coming up so soon!
I would have to say the dress for the Oscars [the year of] Million Dollar Baby [in 2005]. It was a Guy Laroche dress that I found at a photoshoot the week before the ceremony. I just felt like I put it on, and gasped! It felt good. And that’s what we want our clothes to make us feel. We want to put them on and feel good, we want to feel like our best selves. When you dress a certain way, it represents how you feel; it just gives you confidence and makes you feel most alive.

Editor’s note: Hilary Swank’s first capsule collection, a limited-edition edit of little black dresses, for YesAnd with DailyLook is available now. 


Images: Nigel Barker/Courtesy of Ecofashion

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