Madeleine Alizadeh is probably the most important blogger – in terms of reach – in German-speaking countries. But as for me, also because of her topics. Because instead of thin, ever-changing Fast Fashion trends and always the same insta-pics, Maddie has sustainable content. On the topic of fashion, beauty, travel. That was not always the case, because Madeleine Alizadeh founded her blog Daria Daria in 2010. First far from sustainable topics. People are changing as well as professions, she writes on her About page. She is right.
Bye-bye, fast Fashion – hello, Ethical Life![/su_quote]
And I am all the more pleased that she has traded conventional fashion for Fair Fashion, given her blog a new direction, and given her life a new meaning. And that without being unfaithful to oneself. She had to take a lot for that. But a) no one is 100 percent sustainable overnight b) almost no one is 100 percent sustainable and c) it is sustainable, if you sort out your entire wardrobe, just to make room for newly purchased fair fashion?
To all who points a finger on somebody: “How sustainable are you?”
Madeleine Alizadeh, whom everyone calls Maddie, is a role model. Even if she does not see herself that way. She is a normal person plagued by conscience, who has changed her life and now uses her own popularity to change something. To do good. To inspire. On Instagram and with podcasts. At talks and at the European Parliament. A young woman who has moved out of her comfort zone, says (and represents) her opinion, travels to the poorest neighborhoods of the world, has her own little label, and donates part of the proceeds to changing facilities, never losing her sense of humor.
I have a date with an icon – and I’m excited.
Of course, I follow Maddie on all channels. The more excited I was that I had the opportunity to speak with her in private. With a person who you supposedly know, because you got so much insight into her life, in reality to meet.
A conversation with Madeleine Alizadeh
my-GREENstyle: For some you are THE green-blogger, for the others a former Fast Fashion girl. What is your job title?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Difficult to answer because I have an identity crisis in this regard. Because I do everything at once and a lot of it. But I think it shows what I do. I earn a crust with Instagram, my collection, my podcast and incidentally I write and teach yoga. And yes, I suppose I am both: A former Fast Fashion girl and I maybe a green blogger. But at the end of the day I am human. (Laughs)
my-GREENstyle: Everyone has his key moment. When did you know that you want to do something different?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I studied Political Science and Ethnology. In other words, I always had an affinity for social, eco-friendly, and ethnic topics, but I never associated this with my clothes. In 2013, that somehow started to nag me. Again and again the topic has surfaced. These purchases at H&M with the huge bags. Ten pieces for 200 euros. Something does not fit. In the same year I saw the trailer of “The True Cost”. That was a few months after Rana Plaza. Since the film was not yet funded – they did so with crowdfunding. In October I saw the ZDF documentary “Poison on our skin”. That was then a complete emotional collapse. So I went to my closet and made the proverbial cut.
my-GREENstyle: You’ve just said what you’re doing: blog, podcast, lifestyle columns, speakers, fashion collections. You are a yoga addict, have a dog. When do you have leisure time?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I actually have a lot of leisure time because I’m very consistent. It always feels like I’m doing a hell of a lot. I do too, but I have the talent to do a lot in a short time. I am very efficient in my work. When I’m preparing for something, it usually does not take very long. I can manage time very well and take a lot of time for myself. I sleep eight to nine hours every night. I’m really very consistent. Also because I had a burnout in 2016 and learned that I can not juggle at five balls at the same time.
my-GREENstyle: How does your leisure time ideally looks like?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I hate recreational stress because my everyday life is already associated with so many appointments. In my free time, I usually do everything very spontaneously. Keep my weekend free and I’m also very spontaneous. I make sure that I’m outside much, but if I do not feel like it, it’s not. I do it all very intuitively. For a while I followed my routine very strictly. That’s very important, but still I do that very intuitively. Whatever is there is always plenty and good food and I read a lot. Very much regenerative, restorative activities.
my-GREENstyle: Sounds great!
Madeleine Alizadeh: Is it wonderful (laughs)
my-GREENstyle: Speaking of Fashion collections: Can you tell us a bit about it? Éthical is not in vain on your shirts, sweaters & Co. When did you have the idea, what was the implementation, what goals you have? Did everything work out as you imagined?
Madeleine Alizadeh: The topic was actually created last year from a cooperation with the German Ministry for Development and Cooperation. I made a T-shirt for myself and then everyone asked me where I got it from. That was at a time when I had decided to retire the blog and make the podcast. Then I can actually make a merch line, I thought. So I launched two T-shirts and one bag in September. That grew very fast.
The cuts for my collection come from Bangladesh – even if that’s a emotive word.
For my collection I work with white-label cuts. So finished cuts, which I get from a Dutch company that produces in Bangladesh in a GOTS-certified manufacturing facility that is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. You always have to say that, because Bangladesh is a emotive word. I have not been there so far, but they have sent everything to me and it looks 100% correct and good. Especially because the operation of the Fair Wear Foundation is very close.
my-GREENstyle: Yes. Unfortunately, more needs to be clarified.
Madeleine Alizadeh: Exactly. There it is produced and then printed and embroidered in Bavaria near Passau in a screen printing company that also makes distribution. Everything is unisex. I try to offer especially large sizes, because it is important to me that women with big breasts or even men can wear my stuff. Personally, I also like unisex stuff. Often I get something in the men’s department. Gender is very fluid for me.
Gender is very fluid for me.
I’ve looked to stay relatively cheap to compete with Urban Outfitters & Co. I wanted to have something affordable, which is easy to combine. Where someone says I may not buy Fair Fashion but I’ll combine it with my H&M jeans. And with every order I donate 50 cents. For this, I select a new organization every few months. Currently it is the child protection center Möwe, where maltreated children and children from violent families are cared for.
my-GREENstyle: You travel a lot – what do you do first when you’re back home in Vienna?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Wash my hands. (laughs) And then I usually put on a pair of pajamas or something cozy, a house suit. It depends on the time of day: In the evening I make myself something to eat, chill and read something or I work a bit. And of course I play with the dog. My everyday life is so irregular …
my-GREENstyle: What do you miss most when you’re on the road?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Most of all I miss the time for myself and the rest in my own home. Although I like traveling, I am also a very domestic person. My home is my temple. Being at home, grounding, coming down in my own home – that’s what I miss. That’s what I try to do with meditation. The job is very often very overstimulated. There are just too many stimuli …
my-GREENstyle: You said your home is your temple. You let many people look into your temple. Does it feel any different than if the door is closed?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I will not let any more film and photo teams come to my house. For the first time in two years, I made an exception and had a film crew filming at my home. Since then I was very strict and have stated exactly where recordings may be made. When so many people were in my apartment, it really felt like a violation of my privacy.
Many strangers in my apartment feel like a violation of privacy
Digital I have a great distance to it. I feel like I can control that better. That I am in the position of power and can control everything. That’s okay for me. But having someone physically with me is no longer possible. Home stories are taboo for me.
my-GREENstyle: And what does your personal favorite look looks like?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Always comfortable. Not too tight. No heels. I am very, very haptic. I even wash the insole of my shoes after wearing them because nothing should feel sticky. I’m incredibly sensitive. Probably my favorite look is a wide pants and a wide t-shirt with a belt. As I have it today. With sneakers. And I like things that you can combine well. All I have is Capsule-style so you can combine it well.
my-GREENstyle: Is there anything you do not like??
Madeleine Alizadeh: What I like is a long, wide dresses. I am relatively small and relatively curvy. This looks very funny with long dresses.
my-GREENstyle: What makes you especially happy?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Actually, I’m always happy when I’ve moved a lot. Exercise in every conceivable form: a walk or yoga, dancing or spinning. If I feel like I can release a bit, it always makes me very happy.
my-GREENstyle: And what makes you unhappy?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Too much. The most unfortunate thing is the world situation. Things that are currently up to date.
my-GREENstyle: Assuming that the day suddenly has 25 hours – what would you do with the extra time?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Probably the same thing I am doing now. A little more work and a little more leisure time. I would not change anything. Or maybe more sleep. The nine hours would probably be twelve hours – I can sleep very, very much.
my-GREENstyle: If you suddenly had the power, what would you change immediately?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I would change many things. That flights are no longer harmful to the environment. That all people love each other.
my-GREENstyle: Who was the hero of your youth?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I think the Spice Girls. Victoria Beckham was my idol. And the Rainbow Fish – my favorite book.
my-GREENstyle: Do you have other idols today – I assume that Viktoria Beckham is it not anymore.
Madeleine Alizadeh: There are many women that I find impressive. For example Jane Goodall. I was allowed to meet her. That was really wow, wow, wow. To meet such an old woman who bhas so much wisdom and experience. That was really great.
my-GREENstyle: Is there a person you really want to meet?
Madeleine Alizadeh: That’s a really bad answer: Leonardo di Caprio. But I would really like to meet him.
my-GREENstyle: What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Madeleine Alizadeh: A human. (Laughs)
my-GREENstyle: What kind of animal would you like to be?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Probably a sloth or an alpaca.
my-GREENstyle: And what can´t you do?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Fine motor things – everything that requires patience is not mine.
my-GREENstyle: Your magic place – where is it?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Bali and Iceland. These places are energetic. Whenever I am there, something changes in me and I feel that my life is changing. I feel a shift then. Can also be negative. The amplitude can also sink very low.
my-GREENstyle: Somewhere in Bali? Or a specific place?
Madeleine Alizadeh: For me it was longer Ubud, then it was more by the sea. I can not say it exactly, but the island somehow has something. It is also said that it has one of the chakras of the earth. It pisses me off that so many tourists are in Bali and all bloggers go there.
my-GREENstyle: They will find a new place where they will be happy again. They move on, these blogger nomads.
Madeleine Alizadeh: Yes, the Philippines should be the next hotspot.
my-GREENstyle: When was the last time you had an aha experience? And which was that?
Madeleine Alizadeh: That was during my yoga teacher training. Until then I have always been very missionary in my work. But I was not aware of that. If e.g. someone threw a cigarette on the floor, I pointedly picked it up in front of the person and threw it away. Or if someone has done something that was not right, then I have addressed the person to it. And then my philosophy teacher in yoga training said that you have an agenda for someone.
I was very missionary in my work. That has changed.
To tell someone how to live. That was the awesome experience for me. Who am I that I have an agenda for others. And since then I try to be less with an agenda in my everyday life. Even to myself. I also give myself a little more freedom. That changed a lot for me. Also in the interpersonal, with the partner, with friends, with all possible things.
my-GREENstyle: Things that anyone could do right away to make their lives more sustainable?
Madeleine Alizadeh: First, I think it’s important to avoid disposable products. Cloth bags and returnable bottles are uncomplicated, but maximally sustainable alternatives. Second, everything in half, so eat half as much meat, half as much shopping, half as much fly … Third: pick up garbage. This five-minute beach clean-up is the best example. If everyone on holiday would pick up five minutes of garbage – or even just a piece of garbage a day – then we would not have that plastic problem to that extent any more.
my-GREENstyle: Which book is currently on your bedside table?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I just finished the last book on the train. This was: “I called him necktie” by Milena Flašar and now I will be reading “Auerhaus” by Bov Bjerg and “Talking to my daughter about the economy.” This is an “economy simply explained” book by a Greek author called Yanius Varoufakis, who hates the business world because everything is explained so that nobody understands anything, so he wrote the book as if he were explaining it to his daughter.
my-GREENstyle: What should never be missing in your handbag?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I always have a pen and a notebook, my phone and something for my lips.
my-GREENstyle: In which restaurant in Vienna would we eat together when I visit you?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Well I do not know your preferences, but I would visit with you a Vietnamese, because there are good Vietnamese restaurants in Vienna. My favorite is the “Tata Restaurant”. It’s not “Fei Scho-Level, but it’s different and delicious …
my-GREENstyle: Green means for you …
Madeleine Alizadeh: Green has to do with harmony, dignity and respect. Respect for where we come from and to where we are going again.
my-GREENstyle: A question to the professional – I personally do not find the word “sustainability” very charming. What is the best from your point of view?
Madeleine Alizadeh: Sustainability can be interpreted in many ways. It has to do with respectful dealings. With resource conservation. For me it’s always the three components of human, animal and environment. A nonviolent, respectful togetherness. Mindfulness. I think mindfulness is good. But that’s very spiritual too. This is not very accessible to everyone. A better term has not come to me yet
my-GREENstyle: Could you finish the following sentence for me? I would like to spend a day as …
Madeleine Alizadeh: … a llama (laughs). Maybe I would like to be someone who makes important policy decisions.
my-GREENstyle: One last question: You continue diligently with your tattoos. Have you already planned something new?
Madeleine Alizadeh: I have not had any more for a long time now. But I plan a wheat vine. Or something like that. Definitely something traditional.
Thanks for the interview Maddie – and I hope to meet you again soon!
Published: 1 July 2018