JOSHUA KIRKMAN

Environmentalist, Competitive bodyboarder

How old are you? 

36

 

Where were you born? 

Ha ha, the truth is Western Sydney, Blacktown… But thankfully, my parents moved us all up the coast to Forster-Tuncurry when I was 3 years old.

 

Tell us a bit about your career and what you’re working on at the moment…

My career is a funny one… I’ve been fortunate enough to have had many positive experiences in my working life, and a lot of diversity. In my younger years, I pursued a ‘career’ as a professional bodyboarder, competing in Australia and abroad on the international circuit. In that career I had a couple of Australian Titles, a close second place at Pipeline and a final ranking at one point of number 7 in the world. 

At some point in my early 20’s something didn’t feel right about bodyboarding as a job, so I walked away and saw the world for a bit. During that time I was introduced to yachting and became the full-time mate on an 80 foot sailing yacht. In that time I sailed much of the Lower Antilles (Caribbean) and much of the eastern Mediterranean region (Croatia, Montenegro, Greece and then across to France and Spain). While today the yachting world isn’t where my ‘career’ is, I do keep a connection there, very recently completing my third Atlantic crossing.

It was in my 30s that I finally got what I feel like was a ‘real-job’ as Communications Director for a stock-listed cleantech investment group called Loudspring (I managed to finish university before my 30’s which allowed me a chance at such a position…). I spent 4 years with Loudspring, living in Sweden and working for them at their headquarters in Helsinki, while also venturing to places like Beijing, Chicago, New York, Santiago and LA for work. It was thrilling, impactful and the first time in my life that my creativity was truly allowed to be unleashed you could say.

Very recently I made a return to competitive bodyboarding, after ten years out of the sport. My world ranking for 2019 was 17, which I was immensely proud of and hope to improve on when the world gets past COVID-19… More importantly, I have just joined the small team at Ocean Impact Organisation as Strategic Communications Director. I had known Tim Silverwood for a very long time and was thrilled to see an opportunity present itself to be involved. The co-founder Nick Chiarelli is also a bloody awesome bloke and the rest of the team are just legends.

Ocean Impact Organisation has a big mission ahead, to facilitate the growth of 100 ocean impact startups in the coming 5 years, and I could not feel more at home or thrilled by the challenge and opportunities ahead.

 

What does the concept of ethical fashion mean to you? 

Well, it’s a tough concept to unpack. I do consume ethically whenever I learn of something new to replace something I already use regularly (such as Mighty Good) with great ease. I can afford to pay more if necessary and I relish the opportunity.

Having said that, I know that in many cases, ‘ethical’ means of production are often aspirational and contextual. Am I truly content with a ‘living wage’ being delivered through initiatives like Fair Trade to people in developing countries? No, but I damn happy that it is happening and improving all the time. 

I will only be content when standards of income and working conditions are high across the globe. What a day that would be.

 

What do you think should be done to promote ethical fashion?

Anything and everything should be done to promote and improve the quality and impact of ethical fashion initiatives. I don’t have all the answers, but really what is necessary is for people to truly value the story behind their clothes, and ultimately consume fewer of them that are made to a high standard.

 

What areas do you think fashion brands should be focusing on to create more socially and environmentally responsible business?

The wonderful silver-lining of the COVID-19 crisis we find ourselves in is that many businesses that lack innovation capacity are going to fade away. Great. The businesses lacking innovative ‘bones’ were probably the least likely to give a damn about ethical, environmental and social considerations. So, I think what brands are being forced to do now in this context is look at how to do things better and get moving on initiatives that will help them ‘win the market’ when things get back to something like what we could call ‘normal’.

This crisis has laid bare some of the downsides of complicated and globalized supply chains, so it’s my uneducated guess that we might see a return to more localized production of many goods and also the realization of some truly sustainable approaches driven by the newly-enlightened consumer.

 

What role will smaller independent brands play in shaping the future of ethical fashion?

I think I just answered it in the previous question. There is a clean-slate now and people will consume things again. Brands with authenticity, straightforward and low-risk supply chains, coupled with a compelling story that legitimately cares for people and planet are going to win the day.

 

Given that 77% of UK retailers believe there is a likelihood of Modern Slavery in their supply chain, what do you think the fashion industry should be doing to prevent this?

They ought to be auditing every link in their supply chains and making the easy decision, which is zero tolerance. Any company that turns a blind-eye to such things ought to be named, and subsequently shamed.

 

What are your favourite sustainable fashion brands?

I’m a big fan of Patagonia. I think they are in many ways the benchmark. What I love most about them isn’t just their story, or the quality of their products, but the fact that they are more than willing to share supply chain data with competitors to enable the growth in Fair Trade certified products being made, as well as products much lower environmental impacts.

 

Who is your style icon?

Ha ha. I’ve never been asked this question, but the first person who came to mind was Bill Murray. I’ve always that he was the coolest human to ever live on this planet, and I love his style of not seeming to give a fuck about much at all and just be himself. His casual and humorous approach to life is something to emulate, I think.

 

What is your favourite item in your wardrobe and why? Tell us the story.

This red beanie on my head has been with me for nearly 20 years. It has traveled across oceans and traversed seas. It’s warm, and before I had the pleasure of wearing it EVERYWHERE, it belonged to a dear woman who passed away many years ago. She’s never far from my thoughts.

 

What’s your favourite Mighty Good Basics style and why?

I’m pretty basic when it comes to underwear. These Black Boxer Trunks have never failed me yet.

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