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How Rowan Blanchard Balances Activism With a Love of Fashion

When you're a 15-year-old activist being embraced by an imperfect industry.
Rowan Blanchard at the H&M Conscious Exclusive launch in Los Angeles. Photo: BFA

Rowan Blanchard at the H&M Conscious Exclusive launch in Los Angeles. Photo: BFA

The fashion industry is far from perfect when it comes to ethical production and social responsibility, and it can feel like a frivolous thing to care about when you're also passionately invested in things like LGBTQ rights, feminism, fighting oppression and other, perhaps more important and consequential, political issues. But Rowan Blanchard — 15-year-old actress, Cool Teen™, activist and generally intelligent and lovely human — is here to tell you it's OK to care about both... she thinks.

"This is a question I'm trying to answer myself," said Blanchard Wednesday evening at a dinner in Los Angeles to celebrate H&M's latest "conscious exclusive" collection of pieces made from sustainable materials. The actress has no doubt been embraced by the fashion industry, having already shot a number of magazine editorials and covers and ad campaigns and been applauded for her own (excellent) red carpet style, but how does she balance that with being an activist? Her answer was refreshingly honest and relatable to anyone loves clothes so much they might buy them without considering how they were made as much as they maybe should. Read on for our interview. 

Why did you want to come support this collection and event?

It was really important for me to come tonight because I feel like ethical fashion definitely exists, but it's very expensive, and it's inaccessible. I think H&M incorporating it and making it very accessible and making it very wearable is so important.

This may be a tough or annoying question, but you're known for being an activist while you've also been embraced by the fashion industry, which has its problems. How do you balance the two things? Or do you even feel the need to?

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I do a lot of the time feel alienated by editorial things and fashion things, and I certainly try when I'm a part of these things to let people know that there was a lot that went into this image. There was a photographer and a whole lighting crew and a makeup artist and a hairstylist and we're trying things that are considered "fashion" that are not what I do every single day. So I guess I try to show that there's a clear line. I try to shoot things that I would kind of get behind. But it's a hard one, it's definitely something that I'm still trying to balance and answer.

Have you always been into fashion? Is it something you might want to pursue yourself at some point?

Fashion is something that I've definitely always loved from when I can remember. I don't know if I would ever do it myself because I just love what everybody else does, but I think there are such unique opportunities for fashion to create something that's a piece of art, and it never gets counted as art because it's feminine so people discount it. It can be art and it can be political just like this event.

When you shop for yourself, do you try and think about the story or the production methods behind what you're buying? 

I try my hardest, but it's hard. You have to be careful and some things I really like I know aren't ethical but I'm supporting a woman designer, so it's conflicting there are a lot of lines that have to uncross themselves first.

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