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Hilary Swank Debuts Conscious Clothing Collaboration: ‘It’s About Wearing Your Values on Your Sleeve’

As a mom to 1-year-old twins, Hilary Swank admits she spends a lot of time “in my robe!”

But when the two-time Oscar winner, mom and entrepreneur goes to pull together an outfit from her closet, it’s always one she can feel good about. That’s because Swank prioritizes re-wearing pieces in her own wardrobe and shopping from sustainable brands.

Her latest project champions just that.

On April 22, Earth Day, Swank and conscious clothing brand YesAnd debuted their limited-edition capsule collection in partnership with the styling subscription service DailyLook.

The line features eight versatile little black dresses and cardigans made from the high-quality, super-soft, certified organic cotton that YesAnd has become known for.

“With this capsule, I want to invite people to make every dress a statement of purpose, championing the cause of sustainability with elegance and grace,” Swank tells PEOPLE. “This proves that fashion can be both affordable and responsibly luxurious. You don’t have to forsake one for the other.”

The collection, with an average retail of $90, is exclusively available on DailyLook, and subscribers can sign up to receive a curated box of sustainable wardrobe staples — pieces have been expertly picked out by pros.

“The DailyLook transcends a traditional styling service, and they’re becoming a pioneer in personalized eco-conscious fashion in choosing brands like YesAnd and others to help be that beacon for people who don’t have the ability to go do that research,” Swank shares.

This mark’s Swank’s first project as partner, brand ambassador and creative director of EcoFashion, a “greenhouse,” collective of sustainable brands led by Marci Zaroff (who also founded YesAnd). Earlier this year, EcoFashion acquired Swank’s apparel company, Mission Statement.

“It’s not just about wearing fashion, it’s about wearing your values on your sleeve and really joining a movement for a better world,” Swank shares of the passion behind her role. “That’s a big part of why Marci and I came together.”

According to Swank, the goal with the first capsule was all about a “buildable” collection that can easily be incorporated into your current wardrobe.

“I feel like black and neutrals are for sure the staples of our closet — those are interchangeable with anything,” she says. “These pieces are something you can slip on and you can go about easily in your day. You can take them from your day into your night, and change your shoes to make it work. That’s really key I think in sustainability ”

Swank champions a re-wear in her day-to-day life and says the limited-edition line really targets wearability and versatility.

“I wear my favorite things over and over and over,” she says. “Even with these dresses, I’ll just put a turtleneck under my dress and put a tight on with it when it’s cold. And then later in the spring, it starts to warm up, you just drop the turtleneck and tights. When you travel, you don’t have to bring tons of stuff. It’s the idea of being able to buy something that goes a distance for you.”

She adds that it was important for her to break away from the red carpet mentality of wearing a parade of new outfits.

“My fashion philosophy is just to be thoughtful,” she says. “I don’t think I was as thoughtful before with recognizing that a lot of young people see us on the red carpet and in the spotlight, and I don’t even know if it’s conscious or not, but the idea of, ‘oh, I don’t want to wear the same thing twice either,’ because we don’t ever wear the same thing twice on the red carpet. We go from event to event to event, and we’re always in something new. That’s just not the way life is in your daily wear. That’s a red carpet thing.”

Currently, Swank admits her style is “super casual,” as busy mom to 1-year-old twins, Aya and Ohm.

“It’s almost like what I take off is what I put back on the next morning because it’s so fast-paced with two being so young. It’s just got to be really easy right now. And I’m not lying when I say I wear my robe a lot.”


Categories Articles & Interviews

Hilary Swank on returning home as an Oscar winner: ‘I can take the high road on a lot of things, but not that’

It was the year 2000, and Hilary Swank was in a peculiar position. She had won her first Academy Award, for Boys Don’t Cry, having grasped the coveted statuette on stage in front of an audience that included Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, and Morgan Freeman. She was, by all accounts, a star – one that came crashing down to earth when she later went to pick up some medication only to be told: sorry, you don’t have health insurance.

The idea of an Oscar winner with no health insurance sounds ludicrous, I tell Swank over Zoom. The actor, now 49, nods emphatically. “It seems so obvious, right? I’m winning an Academy Award, I’m super famous, it’s all glamorous…” she says. “But I made $3,000 the year I did Boys Don’t Cry, and you had to make $5,000 in order to qualify for health insurance.” Her facialist, too, assumed life had changed overnight. “The next time I saw her, she asked if I had come in a limo! It’s a great reminder that you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

This is a mantra Swank lives by. She made her name playing people who defy expectations, and seeing her now, decades later, makeup-free in a white sweatshirt, glimpses of those characters still jump out at you without warning. In her generous smile, there are flashes of Brandon Teena, the young transgender man she portrayed to devastating perfection in Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry. And there in her eyes is Maggie, the Missouri waitress-turned-boxer of Million Dollar Baby – for which Swank won her second Oscar. (By then, thankfully, she had health insurance.)

Her new film is no different in this regard. Based on a true story, Ordinary Angels sees Swank step into the kitten-heel stilettos of Sharon Stevens, a Kentucky hairdresser who drops everything to help a young girl waiting for a liver transplant and a family unable to pay for it. (Warning: it’s a weepie, keep the tissues on hand.) Silver-tongued and single-minded, Sharon unexpectedly triumphs over the longest odds, rallying the community to help these strangers in need. Think Erin Brockovich but with bigger hair.

Continue reading Hilary Swank on returning home as an Oscar winner: ‘I can take the high road on a lot of things, but not that’

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Hilary Swank on purpose, parenthood and the importance of patience

Hilary Swank is unusual for a Hollywood actress. In more ways than one – we’ll get to that – but primarily because she is so brilliantly straight-talking. “By nature, I don’t really worry,” she says with an easy shrug. “I just like to say, ‘OK, this is what I’m going to do’. I don’t like to ‘what if’ the heck out of everything, you know?”

This remarkably relaxed life philosophy is one that has propelled Swank into a long career (three decades and counting) as one of the world’s most famous actresses. She is also clearly unfazed by the Hollywood circus (“I feel like this business probably has more than most, when it comes to people with egos!” she says with a laugh at one point).

For all her easy-goingness, however, Swank is not without mettle. She grew up in a trailer park in Washington, before moving to LA with her mother, where the pair lived in their car until they could pull together enough money for an apartment. Swank dropped out of South Pasadena High School, and began booking small parts: in TV series Camp Wilder, and the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film.

Her breakout role was as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry, a moving biography of an American trans man, for which she lived as male for a month and earned so little that she couldn’t even qualify for health insurance. It paid off, though: Swank won the Oscar for Best Actress for the film, and went on to score her second for Million Dollar Baby five years later. Continue reading Hilary Swank on purpose, parenthood and the importance of patience

Categories Articles & Interviews

Hilary Swank Says ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Would Be “Great Role For Trans Actor Today”

Hilary Swank has reflected on her role in Boys Don’t Cry two decades ago, saying changing awareness means she wouldn’t take the part today.

Swank won her first Oscar for the role of real-life transgender man Brandon Teena, murdered in a hate crime, in the movie which was released in 2000. She told The Times of London newspaper:

“Now for the most part, in most places, it’s accepted to be a trans person. [But] at that time, people weren’t even coming out as gay and lesbian, it was a career killer, or whatever. They weren’t ready to tell their family, or maybe they weren’t even ready to tell themselves. We’re in such different times — I feel like it would be a great opportunity for an actor who’s trans to play that role.”

Swank added: “But I also feel like actors are actors. We are supposed to play different people and I would like to hope trans people are getting the opportunity to play non-trans people as well.”

And she remains happy that the movie helped improve the public’s understanding of the challenges of trans people: “It was a jumping-off board to start a conversation that was needed, and we need this conversation to continue until everyone’s leading a safe life.”

Eddie Redmayne, who played real-life transgender woman artist Lili Elbe in the film The Danish Girl, has since said he wouldn’t take the part if it were offered today.

Swank won a second Oscar for her lead role in the 2004 movie Million Dollar Baby. She has made relatively few screen outings in the last few years, and tells The Times she continues to pick her roles with care:

“I like those transformative roles, the collaborative process of getting to that point, whether it’s with the hair and make-up people or a trainer, or whether it’s just walking in someone else’s shoes who is so different from me physically. It allows me to see the world in different ways. I’d be up for a role like that again, but they’re so few and far between.”


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Actress Hilary Swank Talks Red Carpet, Sustainability and Teaming Up With Ecofashion

Eight years after starting her sustainable clothing label Mission Statement, the Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank has sold the company to Ecofashion and is now part of that sustainability conglomerate’s executive team.

As a design director and brand ambassador, Swank will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with founder Marci Zaroff and creative director Nigel Barker, the fashion photographer who many know from his “America’s Next Top Model” days. Terms of the deal were not revealed.

Credited with coining the term “ecofashion” in 1995, Zaroff’s portfolio includes the contemporary sustainable brand YesAnd, Farm to Home bed and bath products and MetaWear, a business-to-business sustainable clothing and home decor manufacturing platform.

Swank models in the campaign for YesAnd Little Black Dresses, an eight-piece capsule collection with an average price of $90. The dresses and cardigans are being offered via the subscription service DailyLook by Adore Me. Swank will design her first capsule collection next season.

In between feeding her 11-month-old twins, Swank discussed her latest endeavor, the give-and-take of red carpet dressing and fast fashion’s impact on our consumption economy. Motherhood is only one of the reasons why she wanted to have a more far-reaching voice about environmentalism, she said. (Swank took on the role of chief innovation officer at HealthyBaby just last week.)

“We are a disposable culture — food, movies, toys and clothing. As a mother, I want to look at the future for my babies, who are waving at me [laughs] and smiling. I’m being conscientious about what they’re wearing, consuming and the toys they are playing with,” she said.

By being more vocal about environmentalism, Swank also aims to reel in more brands to use Ecofashion’s RESET farming — an acronym for “regenerate the environment, society and economies through textiles,” and MetaWear’s B2B manufacturing platform.

“We know that fast fashion is just so dangerous to the environment. It’s so dangerous to the people who are making it. Our bigger vision is to transform the [nearly] $2 trillion global fashion industry into a force for good. We have a love for people, the planet and purpose. Both Marci and I have a determination to make a real difference.”

A Junior Olympics swimmer who boxed and trained nearly five hours a day for her “Million Dollar Baby” Oscar win, Swank hopes to bolster conscientious spending and to steer more brands to Ecofashion for their turnkey capabilities. “’Sustainability’ is a word that is thrown around so much that people aren’t really responding to that. It’s what we know we should be doing. But a lot of people say they are and they aren’t,” Swank said.

The United Nations’ Environment Program said that throwaway fashion is up 36 percent from 15 years ago. Speculating that consumers “have just gotten away from understanding such proliferation,” Swank said, “They don’t even give it away. I don’t think they’re even aware of what’s happening and how that’s damaging our planet. That’s why the idea of being cleaner, greener, kinder and more responsible is so important. If we can really come together, we can talk about it in a bigger way.”

Interestingly, her just-released feature film, “Ordinary Angels,” is about a community coming together to help one another. “That’s something that has been lost in the world at this moment. Any time that we can remind people of that through movies, fashion or anything is good. Art is a good conduit to that,” she said.

Sustainability is not a new phenomenon for Swank, whose choice of a backless Guy Laroche gown caused an uproar at the 2005 Oscars. Sex appeal aside, celebrities had yet to warm up to vintage styles. In line with her “I’m-just-a-girl-from-a-trailer-park-that-had-a-dream” acceptance speech that night, Swank still values thriftiness. “Growing up, when we bought something, it had to go the distance. I had to wear it until it wore out completely, or I grew out of it,” she explained. “That’s just what has made my character. It was most likely due to being in a lower socioeconomic background that led us to that. But I’m so grateful for that. I’m glad that I didn’t have 10 pairs of tennis shoes. I had one pair and they went the distance. That infused who I am.”

Mission Statement’s ethos, for example, is meant to try to offset the practice of Americans wearing only 20 percent of their wardrobes 80 percent of the time — a statistic brought to light by “You Are What You Wear” author Jennifer Baumgartner. Allowing that sustainable options can be more costly, Swank advocates for spending a little more for items that stand up over time and can be passed down. Having heard firsthand from fans who feel sustainable options are a bit out of their price range, Swank said Ecofashion’s vertical operations means that she can offer them more affordable options.

Even for celebrities, she continued, “It is a business, right? I’m being lent a dress that is being made by a company that wants the publicity. We both benefit. I get a dress that’s not out yet and they get the press. Someone can say, ‘Oh, I really like that. I’d like to buy that to go to a wedding.’”

However, celebrities’ wear-it-once approach to fashion must register with young consumers subconsciously, if not consciously, Swank said. Along with being photographed in the same outfit a few times, as Swank has, she hopes to curb that one-and-done mentality by codesigning with Ecofashion. Partial to vintage, Swank said, if she could find the perfect vintage outfit for every event, that would be her course of action. “I love the way that things used to be made — even more so than now. I find the quality to be unparalleled and it’s harder to find. Nice fabrics like cashmere only get better with age,” she said.

The routine practice of not repeating an outfit for the red carpet or a key photo-op registers with young people, she said. In addition to vintage finds, Swank also said she likes to support new designers, and had her own visions for designs.

“Stepping into that world in that way has been really fun for me with Mission Statement. And as we move forward and I continue on here as codesigner, it will be as well,” she said.

Swank, who won an Oscar after her lead role in the 1999 film “Boys Don’t Cry,” about Brandon Teena, a trans man who was gang-raped and murdered in 1993, said she was well aware of the recent death of Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teen. “We’ve come a long way, but we certainly have a long way to go. I do talk about that a lot. If someone is still losing their life, or still being abused verbally, mentally or physically every day, which is happening every day in this country and around the world because of their gender, race or whatever it may be — this is an atrocity. It’s horrendous,” she said.