Meet The Incredible Women Who Spent A Year Walking Across Asia To Promote Ethical Fashion
Walk so huh? If you haven’t heard of this kick-ass duo, you’re in for a treat.
Walk Sew Good are making leaps and bounds in the ethical fashion world; literally. Megan and Gab, who make up the WSG tribe, set out last November to walk for a year through South East Asia, promoting positive fashion stories and brands along the way.
Yes… I did say walk. No need to fret, they made it!
Megan and Gab’s positive take on the ethical fashion industry has stripped away the ‘helpless’ feeling we so often get when hearing of the destructive effects of the fashion industry.
They celebrate the wins and have added a fresh perspective on how we can realistically change this issue.
Over the past year I’ve had the privilege of being associated with the Walk Sew Good team as a volunteer, and I thought it was about time I asked them a few questions.
Describe in one sentence: what is Walk Sew Good?
Megan: Walk Sew Good is about empowering people to support and engage with a positive kind of fashion industry through stories and adventure. Yeah that sounds right. I’m surprised I finished that one so quickly. It’s late and I have clouds in my head. Go me.
Tell us one thing you saw or experienced that you have not shared with anyone yet.
Megan: Well I was going to share my fascination with roadkill, but that makes me sound super weird and creepy, so I had to think of something else.
This is hard because we shared so much on social media all the time. Oh, I know. We were in Thailand and the good folks at Y Development kindly drove us to one of their brilliant producer groups about 3 hours outside of Chiang Mai. On this day, the heavens opened and it was the first major rain of the wet season. It was madness.
The roads were flooded and it didn’t seem to let up the entire day. Gab and I kept on looking at each other with grimaces on our faces, wondering how we were ever possibly going to walk in weather like this. I’m not quite sure how we pulled it off in the end. My bag still smells like rot because getting anything dry was a bit of a nightmare there for a while. I think we shared that on social media. But maybe not in such detail.
The thing you missed most:
Gab: I wouldn’t consider myself to be that taken by material things, I enjoy them, but I don’t need them. I didn’t miss any “thing”, but I did miss my partner, my family and my close friends. It was hard not having that face to face time with my loved ones.
What day, week, or month was the hardest to keep on walking? Why do you think that was?
Megan: There were a couple of stretches in Laos that were really hard. The roads were in a total state, there was flooding and landslides and we didn’t have access to a great deal of food. It was some of the hardest, muddiest walking we did and we were doing it basically on one meal of sticky rice a day. I’m writing this now from the comfort of my own home and it almost feels like it was all a dream.
The best snippet of wisdom you’ve ever given someone:
Gab: I can’t say that I think I’ve ever given someone any wisdom, although it would be nice if I had. I’ve received plenty of great wisdom from people, all of which evade me at this current time. One that I’ve been trying lately is to be happy in the moment, to take in the exact moment I’m happy and acknowledge my happiness, rather than look back on it later. It’s actually really hard for me to do, so now I vocalise it.
If I’m laughing and having a great time, or even something mundane like reading a book, I will say “I’m really happy right now.” It feels great to say it out loud. Acknowledging sadness is good too, although I think it’s harder for most people to share that with others. Admitting sadness to yourself can be really healthy. Just being in tune with yourself helps a great deal. We’re so cut off from the whole world, how do you expect to make changes to the planet if you don’t know what’s happening in your own body?
Favorite snack to nibble on your walk:
Megan: Confession: despite being a vegetarian I am a terribly unhealthy eater. The worst. It’s something I really need to work on. When we were walking through all these farms I realised how much I don’t know about how food is grown and where it comes from. Gab was like a facto file, constantly teaching me things about it all. I eat crap. So, my answer to that question is Oreos. I’m not even kidding when I say they kept me alive. Although I’m still having stomach issues so maybe that’s not entirely true.
Post walking, what is the one thing you regret not taking with you on your trip?
Gab: I can’t think of anything right now that comes to mind. I think I took the right gear so that I was never in a situation where I was missing something. I regret not taking better notes day-to-day. I regret not having a neater filing system on the computer.
Be honest, do you think ethical fashion is just a fad?
Gab: I definitely think ethical fashion is here to stay. I’ve been in this space for about 4 or 5 years now and the number of brands, bloggers and organisations focused on creating change has exploded. It’s really quite amazing and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. More and more people are realising that they want to wear clothing that better aligns with their values and are taking the time to think about where it all comes from.
Are you a morning or evening shower goer?
Gab: Whilst Megan and I were on the walk I was definitely an afternoon shower goer, we’d always need to shower straight after our walking, because we’d be covered in sweat and grime. Now I shower when I feel the need, either the morning or evening. Whilst walking I definitely showered every day, but usually I don’t really see the need to shower every day. I think we actually over-wash in Australia. Water is such a precious resource; you don’t need to wash every single day. You also don’t need to wash your clothes after wearing them only once. Obviously if you’ve been exercising or doing gardening that’s a different case.
Which people or books have had the most influence on your journey with WSG?
Megan: Jane Goodall is probably the number one influence in my life right now. She’s a kick ass lady that did kick ass things and paved the way for other kick ass ladies. I went and saw her speak about 4 years ago and was overwhelmingly inspired. She is a living breathing example that you can do anything if you put in the work. Ms Goodall is still fighting for the planet in a major way at over 80 years old and she shows no sign of slowing down. I named my backpack after her so that every time I was having a bad day I could reflect and think of the work she’s done. Satish Kumar was another big influence. He walked across the world in the 1960s to promote peace and nuclear disarmament. If you get a chance to read his book No Destination, I wholeheartedly recommend it. He’s another octogenarian still fighting the good fight. So there really is no excuse.
You are back in Melbourne now, what does your week generally look like?
Megan: My week looks like a blur. I don’t have anything even close to a consistent schedule, but at this point I fill my time with editing videos, transcribing interviews, writing blog posts, articles and a book, working with different fashion labels on different ideas, working as a teacher’s aide, family, friends and sometimes sleep. I’d love to fit in more walking if I could because my body and mind miss it.
When times were tough, what made you keep on walking?
Gab: Megan was a huge support, she kept me going. Also, we are both incredibly stubborn, so some days we got through pain and exhaustion just by sheer determination. Podcasts were a great way to occupy time and to keep us both entertained, they made the walk quicker some days. The people we met along the way and the stories we heard, this was all for them. There are so many people in the fashion industry in crappy situations who don’t have a voice. This walk was for them. It was to say “Hey I’m not ignoring you, I see you, I care and I want others to care too”. It’s pretty easy to walk when you are doing it for someone else.
Most surprising lessons you learnt in the past year?
Gab: Just how much work goes into making clothes and the many different ways that clothes can be made. Spending time with ethnic minority groups and watching them harvest hemp from raw plant fibers to striping it, and twisting and beating it into thread, then dying it with indigo and weaving the material into usable fabric is just crazy. It’s seriously incredible. Weaving is a complex skill, that results in wearable art. Weaving looms are like the original computers, they have horizontal threads and vertical threads intertwining, over and under. It’s like binary. And the weavers are professional coders, writing exact cipher for a handmade piece. I think the whole process was so surprising because I just assumed that all textiles are made from machines now.
What does a successful day look like for you?
Gab: That depends on how you measure success I guess. For me it would be getting outdoors, having some exercise and spending time with people I love. If I can do any of those things, then I think that’s pretty successful. I’m a very fortunate human.
What words do you want engraved on your gravestone? – how do you want to be remembered?
Megan: I’m actually planning on being cryogenically frozen and then living forever once they solve the death conundrum. Jokes. I don’t think I need to be remembered. I’ll be dead. I just want to fill my life up with as many meaningful experiences as I can and hope that somewhere along the way some of these experiences have meaning and value for other people.
Read more about the Walk Sew Good story and Megan and Gab’s inspiring (and hilarious) adventures here.