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Edie Campbell on style and sustainability

‘Being outside in the elements, you gain a respect and an awe for nature and its ways.’ The model and equestrian talks about style, sustainability, and her great love: horse riding.


Edie wears knitwear by COS.

Edie Campbell has grown up in front of the camera. Since shooting her first job at the age of 15, the British model has become one of the industry’s most beloved characters, bringing her spirited energy and singular charisma to the work she does with some of the most respected image-makers in the world.

But long before she began travelling the world to model, Edie was an avid equestrian. She had her first horse-riding lesson when she was just five years old, and, as she explains, ‘was just obsessed – I have been ever since’. Alongside her career in fashion, she leads an accomplished one as an award-winning event rider, competing from dressage arenas and show-jumping courses to cross-country tracks, and spending any spare time with her own four ‘beasties’.

Here, she talks about her life in fashion, her love of horses, and the importance of ‘treading lightly’.

‘My favourite thing about fashion is working with exciting, creative people who are the best in the world at what they do. It's a treat to be the last piece in the puzzle of what they're trying to achieve – to give their idea a physical form. I love that fashion can be so unexpected, too. You're flung into incredibly surprising and unexpected situations, from one moment to the next.’

‘Sustainability, for me, is about stewardship. We’re all looking after the world for the people who will come after us.’

‘I started modelling when I was 15, on and off, and then properly when I was 20, 21. I was an extremely awkward teenager; I would rather have not had a body at all. Then, to end up in this career which is so physical! As a model, you're expected to take up space – you get on set, and you perform, and as I learned more about it that made me very confident in my skin. Growing up in the industry gave me an amazing confidence. I'm really grateful to have that, now.’

‘My mum signed me up for ballet lessons when I was five years old, and I had absolutely no rhythm, I bounced up and down like an elephant. So she asked if I wanted to have a riding lesson, instead, and I said yes. I was just obsessed – I have been ever since. Four-legged creatures are my great love. You can't think of anything else when you're on a horse. It's soul food, really.’


Edie wears dress and shoes by COS.

‘I have four horses. One, Dolly, is retired, and the other three are Ed, Bruno and Tinker – shiny, posh, big-muscled beasties. My favourite thing about riding is learning what makes them tick. I compete, so I train horses to do what I want them to, and in order to do that successfully you have to get inside their head, see the world through their eyes. It's incredibly rewarding, to create a very close partnership with this big, hairy beast. They trust you, and that’s very special. Riding has made me more in tune with the natural world, too; You gain a respect and an awe for nature and its ways.’

Sustainability, for me, is about stewardship. We’re all looking after the world for the people who will come after us. How to live a life that does not have a negative impact? It's difficult, because it’s so complex. It’s not possible to simply create a set of rules to live by that will remedy the climate crisis. Instead, I think it's about trying to be mindful. Treading lightly, and leaving a minimal trace.’

‘For me, reading and learning and trying to understand the magnitude of the problem has been very motivating. The people who are least responsible for the crisis we face are the ones who will bear the heaviest burden, and that is clearly unethical. Reading – a lot – opened my eyes. It's not about being puritanical, or making meaningless gestures. Instead, it's about doing better tomorrow than you did today.’

‘I'm in the business of selling clothes to people, but I would hope that the fashion industry would slow down a little and bear more responsibility, focus more on quality over quantity.’

‘My style is quite androgynous. I like good clothes, but I'm not particularly interested in trends. I'm very interested in people who are extremely well dressed, whatever that is for them. When I'm riding, I dress like a complete slob. Especially in winter, when it's many layers of thermals, and big, smelly coats with horse slobber on. But in competition, I do quite enjoy going for it, shining my boots. There’s a culture, in riding, of wearing things that will last. It's not about the shiny and new, it’s about the quality of make.’

Words by Maisie Skidmore

Edie Campbell (@ediebcampbell) wears the SS21 collection for COS. Photography by Karim Sadli. Styling by Aleksandra Woroniecka. Special thanks to Viva London.

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