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Sinéad Burke on the changes she wants to see in the fashion industry

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Colin Crummy
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Sinead Burke

5 Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. What will broadcaster and disability advocate Sinéad Burke make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of style?

That clothes shouldn’t wear you. Whatever makes you confident and proud to exist as you are, you should wear.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

I’m really not sure, but I constantly ask the question, “What’s the purpose?” and that helps guide me.

Where is your happy place?

Surrounded by family and friends answering the simple question, “How are you?”

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Nature or nurture?

Nurture. If I’m a success, it’s because I’m a loved child. My parents are extraordinary people who taught me the importance of kindness, the value in being yourself.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

I’d like to be a person who brings out the best in other people and uses opportunities to amplify voices and create platforms for new voices.

Who or what is your greatest love?

I have a leather jacket that I wear every day. We’re in a committed relationship.

Does the supernatural exist?

The universe seems incalculable. I mean, if we are here then it’s unlikely we’re alone.

Victoria Beckham with Sinéad Burke.
Victoria Beckham guested on the first episode of Sinéad Burke's podcast, As Me With Sinéad.

If you could change one thing in fashion, what would it be?

Access for all. I want people who have always felt excluded from the system to be part of it, whether it’s wearing clothes, seeing themselves reflected in magazines or being part of the industry.

What is your greatest fear?

That change doesn’t happen.

Animals or babies?

I don’t yet have any nephews or nieces but I am eagerly waiting for them to arrive. I love the idea of getting to teach and play games with young children, but also returning them before bedtime.

Polka dots or tropical prints?

I’m Irish, I have no understanding of tropical prints. Polka dots every time.

What talent do you yearn for?

I wish I could speak more languages. I speak English, Irish and French and am trying to learn Italian on Duolingo.

London or Paris?

I spent a month in Paris learning French. One of the best things was waking up and being in the Jardin du Luxembourg at 7am, coffee in hand, watching the world go by. If I could do that every day, then Paris. But London’s diversity and acceptance of difference makes it so interesting, powerful and important. I can be myself there.

Do you like to be complimented?

Historically, I haven’t been good at accepting compliments. I’d wave them off or even make a joke as a rebuttal. I try not to do that any more and instead just say thank you.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

Absolutely not. I’m the worst.

What book do you recommend most to others?

Notes To Self by Emily Pine. It’s a collection of beautifully written but difficult-to-read essays that transformed how I view the world. I gift it to almost everyone.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

Being kind to myself. It’s probably the most important gift I’ve ever given myself.

What food sums up happiness?

A mushroom pasta dish I had in an Italian restaurant called Bice in Milan. I dream of it constantly.

What have you never understood?

I constantly wonder why architecture and accessibility can’t be more harmonious. I would love for the legislation surrounding historic buildings to change.

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What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

Is New Orleans as incredible as I imagine it is?

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I live every day with a voracious appetite to see and experience the world.

Neon or monochrome?

I don’t think at 29, as someone with a qualification in teaching, I can pull off neon.

Sinéad Burke’s podcast, As Me With Sinéad, is available to download now.

Images: @thesineadburke on Instagram

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Colin Crummy

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