L.A.-Based Designer Phoebe Dahl On The Future Of Sustainable Style

by Elly Ayres

If Phoebe Dahl wasn’t running (fully clothed) through Malibu Beach’s crashing waves right now, she’d probably be at Little Dune Beach with friends, watching the sunset’s last rays break through the hazy Marine Layer. Instead, a ten-person photo crew is bobbing alongside her, mirroring every move.

The photoshoot isn’t exactly an out-of-the-norm occurrence for the 30-year-old designer and humanitarian, whose life — personal and professional — has fascinated followers across the world for years (just scroll through Instagram fandom account @phoebedahlings, for starters). The granddaughter of literary great Roald Dahl takes it all in stride, though, and it’s her passion for philanthropic work that shines brightest out of everything shimmering around her.

So it makes sense, then, that this golden-hour moment finds her fearlessly confronting the rising tides with AG Jeans. As part of the iconic denim line’s #AGOODKARMA campaign, the brand is continuing to build on ten years of eco-friendly designs. From using ozone technology to ensure fewer chemicals make it into the denim wash process to the new water filtration system that keeps dirty run-off out of waterways, this eco-conscious brand is celebrating the relationship between people and the ocean that sustains them.

Dahl’s at ease along the shore, spending her free moments swimming in the surf or taking in the view along the Pacific Coast Highway.

“My favorite place in the world is the beach and by the ocean,” she says.

“I feel like one of the benefits of living in Southern California is being able to access the ocean so easily and drive along the PCH. Every time I do that it’s just a reminder of how amazing California and Los Angeles are.”

While she calls L.A. home, other corners of the world have called Dahl to them. From Nepal to Africa, Dahl actively works to improve the lives of both the people and the wildlife in her global community.

As the founder of Faircloth Supply, a sustainable linen casual wear line inspired by heritage textiles and utilitarian workwear, Dahl donates proceeds from every purchase to fund school supplies, scholarships, and uniforms for girls in Nepal.

“When I was starting, I knew I wanted to have a clothing company but didn’t want to contribute to all the negativity and the waste that comes with that,” says Dahl.

This outlook is shared with the eco-conscious minds at AG Jeans, who in addition to reducing their factory water consumption, are partnering with Water For People® to provide accessible sanitation and clean drinking water to people in need across nine countries. If you're shopping in store, you'll notice their partnership with Boxed Water, too — another effort AG has made to reduce plastic water bottle waste in retail spaces.

Dahl’s understanding that fashion has the ability to better the world started right when Faircloth did — but her design training began much earlier, at age 13. “I was grounded!” says Dahl, looking back on the serendipitous timing. “My mom took away my computer, phone, everything, and she was like, ‘We need to find you something to do.’” A family friend soon arrived with a sewing machine in tow, and the rest was history.

“I was actually one of the only people in my graduating high school class who knew exactly — exactly — what I wanted to do,” she says.

In October, Dahl will follow her dedication for wildlife conservation to Kenya, where she’ll be working with elephants for an as-yet-to-be-determined amount of time. “I’m booking a one-way flight there,” says Dahl excitedly, “and then I’ll spend — no idea — one, two months there.”

When not embarking on philanthropic adventures around the world, Dahl’s home in L.A., likely in a tee and high-waisted cropped jeans, but most definitely hanging with her dog and five cats. A love of animals has been part of Dahl’s life since childhood, when her family housed pigs, frogs, snakes, and parrots. If she wasn’t designing clothes, Dahl says her dream would be to buy land, where she’d house and care for rescue dogs. If her past success rate is any indication of the future, Malibu may find itself with a sprawling dog rescue resort in the future.

“It is really true that we as consumers get to choose where our dollar goes,” says Dahl. “And where our dollar goes is what we care about — and what’s going to prevail.”

Photography: Benjo Arwas; Hair and Makeup: Kristin Hilton; Wardrobe Styling: Jenna Wexler/BDG; Art Direction: Diana Weisman/BDG; Branded Fashion Leads: Jenna Wexler and Elly Ayres/BDG; Production: Lucy Haller/BDG