The New Fashion Initiative

Dana Thomas: The New Fashion Questionnaire

The New Fashion Initiative regularly invites a leading voice in the sustainable and ethical fashion revolution to answer 17 questions about themselves, both personal and professional. It’s our green and socially conscious spin on Vanity Fair‘s beloved Proust Questionnaire. This month, our interviewee is Dana Thomas, the author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano and the New York Times bestseller Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It Luster. She began her career writing for the Style section of The Washington Post, and for fifteen years she served as a cultural and fashion correspondent for Newsweek in Paris. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Style section and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and Architectural Digest.

What is your favorite article of clothing?

A cotton V-neck T-shirt from Alabama Chanin, as I describe in my book Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes. Made of cotton grown down the road fIt’s hard to pick just one, but my vintage dresses that have been in my closet for years are definitely my favorites. 

What is the most wonderful thing about the fashion industry right now?

The awareness  on sustainability, more designers are incorporating better products to their supply chain. Consumers are also more aware of buying with a conscious, and asking themselves where and by whom their clothes are coming from.


What do you think is the most shocking thing about fashion today?

The exploitation of the workers in manufactories, the poor conditions they face, and the low pay rates. Fashion is the second most polluting industry, causing problems in our environment, air pollution and water infested with denim dyes are just some of many. We are consuming clothes 400 % more than 20 years ago, which leads to more demand for production. 

“Fashion is the second most polluting industry, causing problems in our environment, air pollution and water infested with denim dyes are just some of many.”


What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

Bali and South of Italy.


What is your favorite indulgence?

A good, hour-long pedicure, with the scrub, the massage, tChocolate and red wine.


What makes you happiest?

Time spent with my family.


What environmental or social problem are we overlooking?

I don’t think we are overlooking anything—someone somewhere is shouting about every single one. But the worst one of all is plastic, in all forms. We need to stop Poverty, government transparency, public health, equal education, social inequality. 

“We need to stop Poverty, government transparency, public health, equal education, social inequality. “

Are you more introverted or extroverted?

Definitely an extrovert. 


What do you do first in the morning?

My mornings start with a grateful prayer, a stretch, and a cup of lemon-ginger-turmeric tea. 


What was the happiest moment of this past year?

A summer vacation in Majorca, Spain with my husband and kids. 


The best professional moment of your life thus far?

The launch of my book, El Manual del Estilista, from which I’m able to teach the new generation of Stylists using my own experiences of being in the industry for 25 years.


What was the last outfit you wore that made you feel amazing?

Amazing? Clothes don’t make me feel amazing. The love of My bikinis during Christmas vacation in Cartagena. I realized that hard work can pay off no matter what age you are. At 54 I finally started an exercise routine, and after a year of pilates I feel confident in my bikini!


Favorite movie?  

The movie, Breathe, a biographical drama, which tells the story of Robin Cavendish, who became paralyzed by polio at age 28 and decided to live a very courageous life.


How do you recharge?

By disconnecting in my hometown of Cartagena with family and friends. Walking the streets of the old Spanish Colonial city, listening to the music, eating the food, never gets old and always brings me back to my childhood. 

What three words describe you best?

Spontaneous, positive, and giving.


What makes you laugh the hardest? 

When I prank my kids or my husband.


Favorite book?

Any biography, especially the stories of unique women like Frida Kahlo, she was so ahead of her time. I find that very inspiring.