Getting Real About Sustainability with Hilliary Salamanca

Getting Real About Sustainability with Hilliary Salamanca

Hilliary Salamanca is the fashion girl to follow. Not only does she talk the talk, but she walks the walk on what it takes to have a sustainable closet. 

Her sustainability journey goes back to studying fashion merchandising in her undergraduate degree and pursuing a job in the industry where she felt part of a bigger purpose. Right around this takeoff in her career, she visited Latin America, where she witnessed firsthand the hard-working labor of women crafting clothes and jewelry. Even though consumerism wasn’t caught in this storm of fast fashion yet, she felt a need to share the stories and work of these women. 

She sourced directly from the women and sold their products online and in pop-up shops. “I started to have this larger realization of how what we are wearing is so closely tied to climate issues and touches every single resource,” she says. Most importantly, she showed her inner circle that there are more ethical ways to shop for amazing fashion and jewelry. 

Inspired to continue this journey, she returned to the Fashion Institute of Technology, studied sustainable fashion entrepreneurship, and did a certificate program. She then got her master’s in sustainability management at Columbia University. 

Salamanca and I spoke over the phone as she went to the airport for an international work trip. Despite her busy week filled with meetings, packing, and planning, she took the time to hop on a call to discuss her passion as a sustainability consultant sharing secondhand and eco-conscious styles. Even though this was the first time she and I were formally meeting, it felt like I was talking to an old friend. Specifically, an old friend who isn’t going to judge you for all the fashion talk and lingo you could go on and on about. “I'm the go-to friend for how to borrow and wear clothes more sustainably,” says Salamanca. 

Something borrowed, never new, is a closet mantra she found herself living by and preaching to her friends during the height of her wedding year. Not only was she getting married, but so were ten of her other friends. She says the desire for newness as a bride pressured by the wedding culture was evident among her and her friends. 

But her lifestyle devoted to sustainability couldn’t afford all the newness. “If I start talking about it, maybe people could begin to shift their mindset about how getting married and attending someone’s wedding doesn't mean you need new things,” she says. 

Out of this wedding excitement and realizations came Something Borrowed, Never New, Salamanca’s newsletter and Instagram pagefeaturing conscious content at the intersection of sustainability and style including second-hand scores, industry news, interviews, and other musings,” she writes.  

You may already have an inbox overflowing with emails daily and an Instagram feed you can never get to the bottom of. But trust me, you won’t regret following Salamanca’s journey with Something Borrowed, Never New. After all, it is one of the reasons her lifestyle and what Tulerie promotes intertwined perfectly to make a match made in heaven. 

She delivers the backstory of her relationship with Tulerie and says that Tulerie has seemed to be a part of her lifestyle forever. Salamanca is a Tulerie Ambassador and utilizes her platform to break the stigmas of peer-to-peer lending. She says she wants Something Borrowed, Never New to be where people can proudly share photos and moments of them wearing secondhand and borrowed fashion. 

She says social media is a “double-edged sword” and that, yes, it offers a platform where people can be educated, but it also is one of the main drivers for overconsumption. Salamanca is not shy to admit that she will post herself in an outfit more than once, and not everything she posts is entirely new. She follows Fashion Revolution, the not-for-profit global movement, and Venetia La Manna, a fair fashion campaigner, to keep her inspired on social media. “They do a great job at making a fun way to talk about social and environmental issues,” she says. 

As the car horns blare in the background and Salamanca sits in traffic, she says that travel is another area of her life where she recognizes sustainability but also an area where she is far from perfect. She took the initiative during her wedding by offsetting all the travel emissions from her guests but is still working towards better sustainable travel every day. She says author Anne-Marie Bonneau summed up her thoughts perfectly– “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

She says you don’t have to sacrifice style to be sustainable because it creates more style than if you are just buying what's trending. If I could sum up her fashion advice in three steps, it would be research, time, and care. First, research brands you can rent from or with strong ethical values. Then take time to decide what item will last in your closet, and if you don’t want to own it, take the time to be a part of a community you can borrow from. Lastly, show care towards your clothes and accessories because, with the proper care, your wardrobe will withstand a sustainable life. If you have been looking for that fashion friend to lean on to get this journey started, Salamanca has the expertise and passion for preaching something borrowed, never new.

-As always, elevate your wardrobe with respected fashion and embrace the shift in style