Billie Eilish’s #WhatWeDoNext Campaign Celebrates Digital Innovators

In partnership with Deutsche Telekom, the campaign shines a light on the inspiring ways in which young activists are harnessing technology to connect and create a better future. We speak to campaign star and founder of The Slow Label, Anna-Laura Kummer, about how technology has helped her advance her sustainable fashion future.

Maybe you’ve heard it from your parents, grandparents, school teachers or anti-tech friends, but I’m confident that we’ve all been criticised at least once for being on our phones too much. In fact, much like our supposed avocado obsession and job-hopping reputation, an over-reliance on technology has long been a favourite criticism of young people by the media (and our mums!). 

But in our current locked-down state, every generation has had to brush up on their tech-fluency as our ability to connect moves exclusively online. Over the course of these unpredictable, unprecedented last few months, young people have harnessed their ability to connect online and mobilise their actions into a unified message, be that civil rights protests in the US, LGBTQ+ online campaigns in Poland and climate strikes from home around the world.. 

That’s why today, on UN International Youth Day, five-time GRAMMY award winner and Gen-Z queen Billie Eilish has teamed up with Deutsche Telekom to launch #WhatWeDoNext, celebrating Gen-Z tech positivity and demonstrating the power and potential of youth in creating a better future. The campaign, which features Eilish surrounded by a group of young trailblazers, shines a light on the inspiring ways in which the world’s first true generation of digital natives are using connected technology to benefit not only their own generation, but society as a whole.

“How can a generation that lives online know anything about the real world,” Eilish remarks in the campaign video, amid shots of young people protesting, celebrating Pride and promoting sustainability.

We all have the potential to make a positive impact on our planet, and I’m hopeful our generation will use their platforms to collaborate and communicate, and make a difference.

Billie Eilish

One such digital innovator and member of the Gen-Z campaign is Anna-Laura Kummer. A true trailblazer, Anna first gained attention online within the golden age of Youtuber popularity when she was only 15, becoming one of Austria’s first Youtubers. Almost a decade later, Anna is now the founder of sustainable fashion brand The Slow Label, and uses her online platforms to share advice and promote her activism.

Anna-Laura Kummer, shot for the campaign.

We spoke to Anna about how innovations in technology have allowed her brand to flourish, and why we need to keep pushing for a sustainable fashion future.

Your fashion brand The Slow Label uses state of the art sustainable fabrics to create the designs, which we love! Can you tell me about a time that technology allowed you to further your sustainable brand?

We’re a direct-to-consumer brand with no retail locations (for now), which means we fully rely on online sales. Therefore, technology plays a huge role in our business. We make use of that by creating an easy-to-use and mobile-friendly online shop as well as a good post-purchase experience. Customers get regular updates on the whereabouts of their orders and are asked to fill out a survey after receiving their products. This helps us improve, it connects us with our customers and gives us the opportunity to listen and learn.

Technology also comes into play when creating the patterns for our garments. Our pattern maker in Berlin uses a software to determine the most sustainable way to arrange the patterns on the fabrics, leaving behind as little fabric waste as possible. We fully rely on technology to reach new and existing customers, for which we mostly use Instagram. We share restock and launch updates, re-post customer reviews and photos, answer frequently asked questions and generally connect with our customers in an authentic way.

The research released as part of this campaign by Deutsche Telekom shows that young Europeans aged 16-26 showed a high level of optimism for the potential of technology. What inspires you about the future of technology?

I’ve seen – and experienced first-hand – how technology has allowed so many new business models to emerge. It’s easier than ever to start your own business with the help of countless online tools and apps. You’re only one click away from acquiring knowledge in basically any area or learning new skills and eventually teaching those skills to other people. Movements and even protests have happened online, mobilizing millions of people to take action. And the best part: It’s mostly young people that are the ones initiating this.

Movements and even protests have happened online, mobilising millions of people to take action. And the best part: It’s mostly young people that are the ones initiating this.

Anna-Laura Kummer

Of course, everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt and tech should never replace real-life social contacts and experiences, but I think as long as we are mindful of that, technology can have a very positive impact on our lives.

What changes would you most like to see in the fashion industry, post-COVID, for the future?

Since starting my own sustainable clothing label, I have learned so much about the industry that I never knew before. I am shocked as to how intransparent supply chains are and how wasteful, destructive and unfair clothing production can be.

I hope that clothing labels don’t just use the term “sustainability” because it’s trendy. Hiring a sustainability consultant and switching to organic cotton is not enough. Producing ethically and sustainably needs to be a core value and mission for clothing labels going forward. Every decision needs to be based on those values. From choosing suppliers and materials to deciding on sustainable marketing strategies. Like I said, switching to organic cotton or recycled polyester doesn’t do the job. Brands need to redefine success and accept that the most sustainable business sells high-quality products to customers that really need them and cherish them for years to come.

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