Anastasia Vakula


October 22, 2021

Aida Toro

Tell us about your background before starting your career in modeling. What were you up to and where were you raised?

I am born and raised in Ukraine. My dad is a former military and we were traveling a lot around the country, I switched 3 kinder gardens and 4 schools. I went to college in Kyiv, where my family finally settled down. I am a the only child in the family. I have been always studying hard and being a good, well-behaved  daughter. I also grew up watching my mom acting at the local theater, following fashion shows and reading vintage Vogue magazine. I even tried to apply for a modeling school in Kyiv when I was 16 but my parents insisted that studying is more important than the beauty industry. I graduated from college and went to visit US in the age of 20. I came here as an exchange student, spent two summers working and traveling, I fall in love with America and decided that I want to try to live here. 

When it comes to fashion and lifestyle, does sustainability mean compromising luxury?

You would think that sustainability and luxury are two very different words and almost can be termed as oxymoron but lately I find it very controversial. Usually “luxury” means an undertone of excess and waste and is often associated with words like ‘couture’, ‘high life’. Sustainability is on another side, always comes as ‘environment’, ‘long term’, ‘economy’ or even ‘climate change’. But I am confident you can find ways to compromise those two words. Luxury has a long term, creative and extraordinary designs with sustainability. You can invest $2,000 worth Dior bag you will appreciate for qualities like uniqueness, elegance and long term! Similarly, sustainability is related to use of exceptional materials, classic designs and quality with a focus on the long-term – fewer is better. You just need to learn how to find the balance between these two terms. 

What are your tips/tricks to shopping for vintage pieces to add to your closet?

  1. Take your time while shopping. Vintage is a unique treasure, you don’t want to be rushing while looking for new items. Sometimes pieces find you on their own, you just have to give it a time.
  2. Know where to shop. To my opinion, independently owned vintage and thrift stores have the most unique pieces.
  3. Know what you can fix/alter/redesign. Some of thrifted finds can have a completely new life after a few easy alterations, like a new zipline or new hardware. But when it comes to completely altering a retro dress, take a minute to think of how feasible the fix is. I am not the best at it, I have tons of things in my closet that will never leave the house because I overestimated my sewing skills. 
  4. Don’t afraid to experiment with the size. Marilyn Monroe was NOT a size 14. She was a size 8. In 1960s sizing, Marilyn Monroe was a size 14, which would be a size 8 in modern ready–to-wear sizing. Today’s size 14 is more like size 20 in Marilyn’s day. So don’t mind the size and try it on before saying “no” to a piece. 
  5. Don’t do the “name game”. It doesn’t have to be Gucci or Valentino to fit you perfectly. Most of my vintage collection is “unknown” brands and I love them!

From a sustainability perspective, what is the most frustrating part of the fashion industry? How do you see that changing in the future?  

To me, wastewater pollution and plastic pollution that fashion causes is the worst. Approximately 60% of all materials used by the fashion industry are made from plastic and it mostly ends up back at landfill and essentially in the ocean. I just hope to see more investment into sustainable fashion, technology and culture dictate behavior. Let`s have more interviews like that! I find it a good investment into better sustainable future.

Who is your favorite sustainable brand in the fashion industry right now? 

I love Alternative Apparel, People Tree and Parade for clothes, Able for bags and accessories, and Toms has lots of fun choices if you are looking for a cute pair of shoes.

There are so many creative activists that use their vision to help change our societal perspective on sustainability and climate change. Do you have any favorites/ who should we be following?

Absolutely, happy to share! Dominique Drakeford, Céline Semaan, Arizona Museand my favorite Sophia Esperanza. 

In your personal day-to-day, what is the hardest part about being sustainable? What is the easiest part?

It is always easy for me: I always carry my water bottle, to-go coffee mug, snacks in jars etc, I walk whenever I can instead of driving. And I stay always cautious about the waste I produce during the day. The hardest part is to watch people not doing the same.

Give us some advice – what are some of your tips for moving towards a “less is more” lifestyle in the world of fashion and how we decide to fill our closets? 

 I am not necessarily a “less is more” girl, I like to have options and change/ combine outfits every day differently but I am definitely in for a deep research before you shop: where did it come from? Is the brand you are buying from sustainable? Do they care about the environment? Are you going to use your purchase for a long time? What is it made of and can you recycle it?

Is it possible to live 100% sustainable?

Sadly, no. But I do believe that 100% sustainable is an easier goal than 80% or 50%, because once you set your mind to an ambitious goal, everyone gets on board and does what needs to be done. Let`s always think of a 100 even if we are doing 50 only.

Are there any causes or charities you would like to direct us to?

Helping to clean up are the ones I actively follow. Love these organizations helping to clean up the hot-mess known as the fashion industry in a variety of ways.

 What are your go-to sustainable brands or creatives in the fashion, food, art, or design industries? 

I named my favorite fashion brands above. For food: Eat the Change, Beyond Meat, Thrive Marker. Design: Armadillo & Co, Threaded, Linen & Stripes.

What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to keep doing what I am doing but add more partnerships to it. I love to collaborate with other creative artist (photographers, models, producers, writers, artists, creative directors etc) who care for the environment and raise the issue of climate change in their work. In 5 years I want to see myself being by two sides of the camera and creating arts that matters. At some point I want my guitar to be involved, I have been enjoying it lately. 

Follow Anastasia @anastasia_vakula

Photography by Triston Cooper @tcooperphotos