At only 27 years old, Aditi Mayer has spoken at the United Nations, Vogue’s Business Fashion Environment Summit, and Harvard about environmental and social justice through the lens of fashion—a niche she discovered after learning about the infamous Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,134 garment workers in 2013. “That was a very big moment for the fashion industry at large because so many brands were implicated,” she says. And it was a turning point for her, too.
Mayer spent the next decade working as a labor organizer in LA’s garment district and as a content creator, partnering with brands to champion sustainability—not as a buzzword or a marketing ploy but as a state of being. “I always caveat this: Although we can buy more sustainably by considering the ethics or the environmental impact of how something is made, sustainability at its best is about challenging the ethos of constant consumption,” she says. It’s why she encourages her followers to think twice before making an impulse purchase. To educate themselves about the longevity of natural textiles over cheap synthetic ones that won’t last more than a few washes. And to learn to repair what they already own.
Still, Mayer acknowledges there are larger forces at play. “I don’t want to put all the onus on just the consumer buying better. It’s about the industry as well,” she says. “That’s why I’m always saying that we can’t necessarily buy our way out of this. It’s going to require a whole shift as a collective, as an industry.”
That shift occurs, she argues, when brands commit to doing things better. Take Lightbox: The Portland-based lab grows diamonds using 100 percent renewable wind power. Each one is traceable back to its reactor run and batch number and priced simply, by quality. They’re set in a range of styles, including classic studs, tennis bracelets, and drop earrings. Lightbox even offers loose stones, should you want to design something custom.
Below, Mayer shares how she’s wearing her favorite Lightbox pieces this season, along with her thoughts on personal style, greenwashing, and more.
I love strong silhouettes and sculptural elements. Those are some of the things that inform my approach to dressing—and jewelry, by extension.
Oftentimes in personal style conversations, when we talk about timelessness, we tend to make it about certain pieces—the classic black turtleneck or something like that. And sure, there’s space for that, but I think identifying your aesthetic is one of the most important steps to buying in a way that ensures that you’ll be wearing those pieces time and time again.
My paternal family were jewelry makers; the last generation that did that was my great-grandfather. In the South Asian culture in general, there is a big love of jewelry and gold and things being passed down.
We can make these labels, like carbon-neutral and this and that, but having brands that really do the work to explain what sustainability means in practice is incredibly important.