I’m so excited to share Charissa’s interview with you all! She’s truly SO stylish (I want literally everything I see her wearing), and has her Ph.D, so basically the babe has brains? The brain is a babe? We love a well-rounded icon, and Charissa is here to be it for us. Read on for inspiration!
Tell me a little about yourself? Who are you, where are you from / living, etc?
“Well, I’ve lived a few places in my life, but I’d have to say that San Diego definitely feels like home to me! I live in North Park, a diverse, creative, vibrant neighborhood slightly east of downtown SD’s cultural epicenter, Balboa Park. I am a career academic and earned a Ph.D. in musicology (basically means music history) and currently teach at San Diego State University and University of San Diego. Music has always been my passion, but I’m not as interested in learning to play every instrument or memorizing every band, every composer, every song. . . . What has always fascinated me about music is its ability to create subcultures that include fashion and style, geography and identity.
Music speaks to us as individuals, yet it also creates powerful narratives that connect our individual selves to broader culture. It cultivates communities who rally around these narratives and shared identities. I never get tired of exploring this function of music! I’ve tried on a gazillion different identities revolving around music and fashion since I was 12, and what’s interesting to me is, first, how music and fashion present opportunities to re-form/transform yourself and explore different facets of your identity, and, second, how these music-lifestyle communities revealed to me how much I shared in common with people who otherwise had totally different lives and backgrounds than me. It’s all really quite beautiful.”
How did you first get into ethical / sustainable fashion?
“Well, I’ve been thrifting since high school, partially because I had no money but also because I loved vintage fashion. All my style icons were from the past—Dianne Keaton in Annie Hall, Charlotte Gainsborough in La Petite Volouse, and photos of my parents from high school in all their bell-bottomed, Gunne Sax glory—so thrifting was the way to achieve that look. Moreover, my father is a preacher and instilled in me at a young age the importance of working for social justice and protecting the earth because we were the hands and feet of God; practices such as recycling, buying local, and sponsoring organizations that provided clean water, job training, and other empowering tools for people in developing nations were a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Fast-forward to graduate school when I (finally) got a smart phone and installed the Instagram app: I discovered this whole community of people who felt similarly about these issues and articulated their beliefs (in part) through their fashion choices. I still shopped at Urban Outfitters occasionally at first, not fully realizing that I needed to actually research companies and their practices—that part of my interest developed over time as the ethical fashion community piqued my interested and sparked a desire in me to be more fully conscious about my world and my choices.”
What’s something you really want other people to know about ethical / sustainable fashion?
“What I really want people to know is that it’s not only for wealthy white women with tons of time on their hands, nor is it about simply buying the “right” brands. It’s about changing our approach to consumption. When holding an item that you might buy (or looking at it on a screen, let’s be real), consider: Who made it? How many times did it change hands before it got to you? How far did this item have to travel before it got to you? What was the impact of its production on the earth? This might sound a little tongue-and-cheek, but sometimes when I think about all that and how difficult it can be to locate an ethically-produced item, I question whether I really need that item! Haha! But seriously, contemplating whether you need or want something is the surest way to slow down your consumption. Additionally, this practice breeds contentment and gratitude for what you already have, which also slows down you consumption. . . . it’s a beneficial cycle.”
Who are your inspirations (ethical fashion or otherwise)?
“Oh man, so many! In terms of ethical fashion, I can’t really pin down one person because so many people are now incorporating ethical practices, which is really incredible! I would say that, for just fashion in general, Sophia Coppola is my forever girl-crush. She’s just a model of effortless simplicity and laid-back style. Same goes for Joan Didion. I would say that within my IG ethical fashion community, I love every outfit that I’ve seen from Shannon Buckley of @shannydoots as well as Shermine Ghane of @sherminehghane. In terms of other sources of inspiration, I’d say my parent’s life-long commitment to learning and growth inspires me to continually explore and remain open to change. I am also incredibly inspired, on a personal level, by thinkers, artists, mystics, and romantics over the course of history such as Teresa of Avila, Johnny Cash, Dallas Willard, John Cage, Eva Hesse, Mary Course, Joan La Barbara. . . . The list goes on for quite awhile!”
Do you have any ethical brands you’d recommend or tips for how to find great thrifted pieces?
“Yes! I have a (sadly neglected at the moment) blog that discussed tips for thrifting and finding ethical brands at affordable prices. But I would say my main tips for thrifting would be to disregard sizing and to check out thrift stores in more suburban areas with an older population; urban thrift stores are usually just full of fast-fashion rather than unique vintage pieces. As far as ethical brands, I recommend Paloma Wool, Esby, Intentionally Blank, LoQ, Marais USA, Christy Dawn, and Lacausa. I find ethical brands usually by checking out shops that carry them, either in person or through Garmentory. I usually check out Poshmark and Depop first to see if I can get the item second-hand, but if it’s not on either of those platforms for a few months and I find myself still really wanting the piece, I’ll splurge because I know I am making a good choice with my money (on multiple fronts)!”
What is one of your current favorite items of clothing you own?
“My current favorite is probably my LoQ Xavi sandals. They were a big purchase, but I regret nothing!”
What are you reading, listening to and/or watching right now?
Listening: Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66, Francoise Hardy, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, Joywave, Alice Coltrane, Queens of the Stone Age
Watching: Stranger Things, Call the Midwife, The Chef Show (with Jon Favreau)”
Where can we find you? Share your blog, social media, interviews, etc!
Recent interview: http://sdvoyager.com/interview/meet-trailblazer-charissa-noble/
Do yourself a favor and check out Charissa on all her social media platforms!