Meet Emma Elwin: Ethical Fashion Trailblazer and Creative Director
By her mid 20s Emma Elwin had already become ELLE Sweden’s fashion editor – blazing a career in the fashion industry that was nothing short of impressive. But it’s what the talented Swedish stylist has done in the last decade that will have a ripple effect for years to come.
Emma first honed her skills at design school, before getting some hands-on experience assisting Swedish designer Elin Kling, part of the duo behind the elegant minimalist clothing brand Totême. By the time she was 20 she’d landed a coveted spot on ELLE’s team as a fashion assistant.
“It was a lovely place to learn the business, to learn how to communicate through pictures, and to tell a story visually,” recalls Emma.
Over the course of the next few years she worked in editorial roles at ELLE, shaping how each story was told. At that time the industry was dominated by male photographers and Emma helped create more space for female photographers to bring their energy, ideas and viewpoint into the narrative.
In 2014, after several years caught up in the dynamism of the industry, the fashion-lover felt that she was losing her own point of view. She started to examine her beliefs around her connection to clothing and what was truly important to her. It was time for a pivot.
“I began to question things deeper and through that process things started to shift. I went vegetarian. I went organic. These changes all didn’t happen overnight. It was more like rings on the surface that ripple out. With each change I realized how much richer my life became.”
Enter “Make It Last,” a style and sustainability platform that Emma co-founded alongside Lisa Corneliusson back in 2014 — at the same time she was making a lot of personal shifts towards embodying a more sustainable way of living. More than just a site where the founders could share content about timeless, premium brands creating clothing that was “made to last,” it was a brand consultancy where Emma was able to flex her writing skills as well as shape stories through her work as a creative director and photographer for brands looking towards a more eco-minded future. Her new endeavor aligned with her own personal resolve to be more mindful in all aspects of her life.
“I’ve become very careful with what I bring into my life. I’ve become selective and analytical when it comes to investing in everything from furniture and garments to beauty. I try to research as much as possible before making a decision.”
Like the timeless brands Emma has introduced through Make It Last, it was the quality, the longer-lasting nature of Beauty Disrupted’s shampoo and conditioner bars that first stood out to her.
“I love to buy mainly organic but if it’s a product that’s ‘good on paper’ but doesn’t actually work or doesn’t last a long time then I’d rather not buy it. I try to find really high quality products that last. Beauty Disrupted ticked all the boxes, especially their conditioner bar. I don’t even understand how it works. I mean, how can a bar of conditioner be this good!”
One of Emma’s other passions is surfing, which she lovingly refers to as a community rather than a hobby. The Swedish-native grew up on the ocean with a dad who was an avid sailor and summers were spent sailing, diving and windsurfing as far afield as Malaysia. It was this introduction to the beauty of the ocean from a young age that has led her to always want to preserve it.
“I started surfing in 2013 in Brazil. I fell in love with the adrenalin rush — that feeling like you’re on the top of the world — that you get while riding a wave. It’s just you and nature and for me it’s the closest I get to a meditative experience. I’m so in the present moment when I’m surfing and I’m the best version of myself after it.”
Her connection to the ocean has also informed her beauty choices.
“When you’re a surfer you want a product that you can wash out at the beach that doesn’t harm the natural environment. Beauty Disrupted’s products are so natural that I can use them without worrying about their impact.”
Emma is one who practices rather than preaches her approach to life. Choosing to live a life that inspires others rather than saying something is wrong and stopping opportunities for productive dialogue before they can even begin.
“I always try to remain humble when talking about sustainability with other people. It’s about inspiring and doing good yourself which will then hopefully encourage others.”
While Make It Last is currently on pause Emma is taking the extra space to work on sustainability and art direction for some of Stockholm’s most trendsetting fashion brands while also considering her next chapter. She’s taking the time to dream but is thinking it may involve going back to school and she definitely wants to do something with kids. She has a young son who constantly inspires her to keep doing better.
Whatever lies ahead, the thread of sustainability that is now so deeply woven into her life will be a part of it.
Karryn Miller is a native of Auckland, New Zealand, for whom “home” has also meant Tokyo, Hanoi, Mumbai, Seoul, and Washington, DC. As a hotel public relations consultant with a passion for travel, she has also published pieces in dozens of travel books, magazines, and newspapers around the world. Most recently, together with a global collective of mothers, she co-authored the book Mother Wild, and launched a series of wellness retreats. In 2021 Karryn relocated with her family to the second snowiest city in the world, Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan.