gemma styles

Gemma Styles on activism, fast fashion and who you should be following on social media

27 Nov 2023 | |By Anna Solomon

The influencer, designer, and general jack of all trades proves that having a famous brother is the least interesting thing about her

‘No Harry-related questions, please,’ stipulates Gemma Styles’ agent as we’re organising this interview. And, once I’ve done my research on Styles the older (Harry is three years her junior at 29), I understand why: she is a powerhouse. Her list of engagements and accolades is as long as my arm: activist, podcaster, writer, mental health ambassador, ‘accidental’ influencer, sunglasses designer… She has so many strings to her bow that I don’t even know where to start. 

Let’s go with the podcast thing – Styles’s is called Good Influence, and over 900,000 people have tuned in to listen to her, as her website states, ‘[meeting] a guest, who’ll help us pay attention to something we should know about’. These issues have included climate change, stress management, and financial literacy, with guests such as Great British Bake Off finalist Laura Adlington, gender-nonconforming model Rain Dove, and media personality Laura Whitmore. 

Styles has written for publications including Glamour, Refinery29 and Teen Vogue on topics as varied as bullying, voting, and social media, and she has an archive of meaty sociopolitical articles on her website, ranging from an ‘open letter to Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps’ about #StopRosebank (the planned oil field off the coast of Shetland) to a meditation on ‘white feminism’. 

gemma styles

Styles is also outspoken on mental health, acting as an ambassador for non-profit organisation MQ Mental Health Research. She is big into fashion, and particularly sustainable fashion, declaring herself an ‘outfit repeater’ in her social media bio. She also designs her own Baxter & Bonny eyewear line and branched out into jewellery last summer, collaborating with designer Rachel Jackson for a collection to raise profits for refugee charity Choose Love. Styles’ uncensored opinions and willingness to speak out on the big stuff, despite her proximity to the A-list, has earned her an enthusiastic community of 10.4 million on Instagram and 3.7 million on X. 

So, you see, Gemma Styles’ starry sibling is almost the least interesting thing about her. Her beliefs are so strong that there’s no room for anything else. Here, we talk to Styles on all of the above, proving that she is the definition of a multi-hyphenate for the modern age. 

You discuss some super-important issues on your podcast – mental health, feminism, the climate crisis… What compelled you to start talking about these things?

Personal interest! I wouldn’t say I consciously made a decision to talk about ‘issues’, but these are all things that affect me (and a lot of us) that I find important and interesting, so it’s really fulfilling to be able to talk about them as part of my job, essentially, and get to have conversations with some really interesting people that hopefully help others at the same time.

Have you always been plugged into social issues?

I think it’s a knock-on effect of learning more over the years and then seeing how things connect. I always loved animals and nature shows as a kid, which made me interested in the environment, which made me interested in climate, which led to more climate justice issues, etc. Other interests like mental health care have come around through life experience, but these things do tend to connect together when you step back, with lots of us suffering from climate anxiety or changing pressures in society that contribute to those issues as well.

Who has been your favourite podcast guest so far?

Tough one! From the latest season, I really enjoyed talking to Lucy [Blakiston] who runs Shit You Should Care About (who you’ve more than likely come across on one social media platform or another). Most of us consume a lot of news through socials now, so it was really interesting to hear insights from someone who runs a massive sharing platform like that about how we’re interacting with hard news and soft news, what that says about us, and our capacity to care about all sorts of different things at the same time.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing people in the UK today?

I think cost of living is top of the list. So many of our issues are connected though. For example, one of the big rising expenses facing most people is energy bills – that’s mainly due to our use of fossil fuels, which is then, of course, important in tackling the climate crisis. The government is currently using the promise of lower bills to try and get people on their side over granting new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, but haven’t provided any evidence for it lowering bills (because it won’t).

gemma styles
Top three activists we should be following on social media?

Mikaela Loach for climate justice, Aja Barber  for sustainable fashion and Ellie Middleton on neurodivergence.

What’s one fashion item you couldn’t live without?

Well, I’m biassed as a sunglasses designer but… maybe sunglasses? They’re a year-round essential for me – if they’re not on my face there are usually some on my head. Which is why I designed Gemma Styles Eyewear glasses to not get tangled in your hair! Other than that I’d have to say jeans, and denim in general really.

You’ve spoken about your relationship with fast fashion in the past – how has this changed?

I’d say I went from unconsciously to consciously consuming. It’s really easy to shop and shop without thinking about what our clothes are made from, who makes them, or where they end up at the end of their life. Once you learn a bit more about those things, it’s hard not to care, in my experience, and so gaining more knowledge of the systems has been enough for me to radically change how I purchase clothing over the past several years. To be honest, I also think fast fashion is now so fast and so mammoth that it’s more of a statement and a challenge to go against that and figure out what your personal style really looks like, which I think is attracting more people to a slow fashion focus, too.

Favourite clothing brand(s)?

I love a good resale platform, like Brighton’s Curate & Rotate, and use Vinted and Depop a lot. I have a couple of made-to-order pieces from Faith Rowan Leaves and Walker & Walker. I like brands that focus on materials and the longevity of their pieces, so places like Baukjen, Beyond Nine, Stripe & Stare, and E.L.V. Denim.

Favourite place in London?

Beckenham Place Park.

What do you do on your days off?

Spend time with friends and family, get out of town for country walks, and I watch a lot of TV.

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