Jennifer Atilémile Gets Passionate About Sustainability, Labor Rights in the Fashion Industry

The model, writer and advocate talks fair wages, vintage finds and more.
Jennifer Atilemile

Jennifer Atilémile was photographed by Derek Kettela in Puerto Rico.

A rookie in the 2023 SI Swimsuit Issue, Jennifer Atilémile has been in the modeling industry for years, but the 32-year-old chose to pursue her education before jumping into it full-time. Since then, she’s worked with brands like Victoria’s Secret, MERIT and Clarins. Atilémile graduated from Monash University in Melbourne, where she obtained a double masters in international relations and journalism. While in school, she wrote her thesis on the ethical rights of women garment workers in the fashion industry, a topic she continues to speak passionately about today.

We recently caught up with Atilémile during magazine launch week events at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Hollywood, Fla., where she shared more about her stance on ethical fashion and labor rights.

“I speak up so much about ethical labor treatments and like workers’ rights, fair wages, and I think it kind of transcends into everything that’s happening right now, especially even in Hollywood and the writers strike,” she explains. “Everyone's just asking for a fair wage. Why can’t the people that make our clothes also get a fair wage, specifically when they are women of color and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds?”

Jennifer Atilémile was photographed by Derek Kettela in Puerto Rico. Swimsuit by Denimcratic.

Jennifer Atilémile was photographed by Derek Kettela in Puerto Rico. Swimsuit by Denimcratic.

View Jennifer Atilémile’s full 2023 SI Swimsuit gallery here.

Atilémile admits that as a model, she’s part of a polluting industry—the fashion sector does in fact contribute up to 10% of global carbon emissions each year. With that awareness in mind, she loves shopping vintage in order to avoid fast fashion, which often involves poor working and environmental conditions. Depop and Vestiaire Collective are two of her favorites—but again, Atilémile knows that shopping vintage isn’t viable a solution for everyone.

“Being able to shop vintage is not a luxury [that’s affordable] to everybody. If you are from a lower socioeconomic background, you kind of have to go to fast fashion because that’s all you can afford,” she says. “If you’re a plus-size woman, you can only go to fast fashion because a lot of stores still don’t stock [an inclusive range of] sizes. It’s this weird ethical question of, well, we need to include everyone, but also not everyone can access the privilege of shopping sustainably.”

One of Atilémile’s personal favorite vintage fashion finds is a 1991 Versace dress once worn on the runway by Claudia Schiffer, which she says perfectly sums up her “mermaid princess” vibe.

“That’s also why I love vintage fashion because there’s very much a unique style that comes with being a vintage shopper because not everyone has [that item],” she says. “You’re not like part of the mainstream, you’re very unique and your own person.”

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.