February is a month delicately peppered with Football fanaticism, gratitude for love, Aquarian self-discovery and Presidential appreciation. However, ask any culture craving fashionista and it’s oh-la-la Fashion Week on native soil, then an abundance of sweet and savory stylings sprinkled across the globe: flirty femme skirt suits by Moschino, coats flavored from the 60s by Alberta Ferretti, and vibrantly patterned dresses rounded off with Russian fur flare by Oscar de la Renta. The memory of New York City and London Fashion Week is faint but not faded, and the five-star carte du jour of Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks is still turning heads and trends. One of the lifestyle trends of 2011 that’s calling for alternative wear in the fashion industry is Veganism (maybe a reaction to Oprah’s Vegan Challenge, aka the Oprah-Effect?). With consumer consciousness on the rise, and not limited to what sustains you, in the case of ‘Green’ and ‘Eco’ fashion, it’s about what sustainably accentuates your divine beauty!
First impressions of sustainable fashion may illicit concerns: whether savvy design and aesthetics must be sacrificed in favor of recycled materials – but don’t worry, Cardboard Couture is SO not the norm in this school of thought. Noteworthy designers are engaging in the availability and consumer demand for organic and cruelty-free fabrics and fair/ethical trade. Twenty-two eco-conscious designers from around the world appeared at Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week, with collections that upheld eco-initiatives outlined by the Green Advisory Board. Below are examples of the ‘Eco-Criteria’ that express the quality and philosophy of featured designers:
ORGANIC/NATURAL TEXTILES AND MATERIALS: Woven/fabric from natural sources like bamboo, SeaCell® (seaweed) Ingeo™ (corn), milk fiber , hemp, nettle, wool, peace silk, soy silk, wood, rubber, cork, cupro and other exotic sustaining plants. Natural fibers are grown without any pesticides and other toxic materials.
FAIR/ETHICAL TRADE: Responsibility towards human rights, reasonable work hours, no child labor, the right to unionize, a fair living wage, higher environmental and social standards. No direct environmental influences that impact on people in the workplace in the form of vapours, gases, dust particles, noise, temperature, etc.
Before dkkevents, I worked for 10 years as a clothing manufacturer for ____. I believe there’s a great responsibility to produce a result with respect for all those involved, which is also true for sustainable event planning. The manner in which a garment is made, translates onto the final appearance and impression it has once off the hanger.
Some designers have been quick to receive criticism for their efforts at marketing a collection as eco-friendly. Discerning eco-ists were not too impressed by recycled couture by Gary Harvey, expressing disdain that the quantity of items used to construct his pieces had wasted scraps that overall could have gone to better use, were they “made to fit under privileged children who needed sports apparel”. Harvey, while operating within the niche of sustainable contemporary high fashion, isn’t disconnected from the “dramatic display designed to change people’s perception of second-hand clothing and creating fashion with a conscience.” His stunning Newspaper Dress, made from 30 copies of the ‘Financial Times’ to create a mock tulle skirt, suggests his willingness to push the envelope beyond mere titles.
Not all designers look to an Eco-Certification to denote the sustainability of their collection. As is most prevalent in the fashion industry, a ‘look’ is just that: a fleeting glance, yet when exceptional, something worth staring at as it trails off into the distance of time. Just examine this exquisitely playful Reusable Bag Dress, and you’ll note there are varied interpretations and presentations for the title of “green” fashion. The philosophy behind a designer’s look is not always outlined in black and white, as with Olsen Haus’ Pure Vegan, who’s aesthetic “is anchored in the universal truth, respect for all beings, with a dedication to the expression of truth in the material world.” Cruelty-free footwear and accessories by Cri de Coeur (translated is cry from the heart) seeks to redefine style with a “growing awareness on the increase of pollution, deforestation, global warming, and resource depletion that is rapidly destroying the planet.” They uphold a vegan lifestyle, both on and off the table, as “the simplest way to help reverse these devastating statistics.”
Some of the world’s top designers hot on the movement and connected to cause, are teaming up for this month’s upcoming Runway to Green. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent to Manolo Blahnik will each create an exclusive item for sale at international retailers, proceeds will go towards the Alliance for Climate Protection, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the United Nation’s Environment Program’s Billion Tree Campaign. All participating designers will follow sustainable manufacturing practices set forth by the NRDC’s Clean By Design initiative.
Has all this sparked your interest or made you eager to donate your outdated looks in favor of some eco-fashion hot off the runway? Thanks to websites like Pure Citizen consumers can enjoy up to 90% discounts on some of their favorite organic, fair trade, biodynamic, natural, sustainable, recycled, handmade garments. Sales every 72 hours on the site, allow for a percentage of your savings to be donated to a non-profit organization of the featured brand’s choice. Another great online resource is Eco Fashion World, where you can search for clothing based on brand, store, category and eco-criteria. If online shopping or couture wear isn’t your cup of tea, H&M recently unveiled their Conscious Collection for release in April; a minimalist, tailored look in shades of white, made from organic cotton and recycled polyester.
Whether the fashion industry will undergo a head to toe makeover at the hands of sustainability remains to be seen. As the terminology remains diverse, you can count on ‘eco-conscious’ as a palette for future style stewards to pull from – and oh! what brilliant hues of Green we have to look forward to!
Alberta Ferretti- http://fashiongonerogue.com/alberta-ferretti-fall-2011-milan-fashion-week/
Oscar de la Renta- http://www.oscardelarenta.com/?folderId=/collections/runway/fall2011
Carboard Coutoure- http://www.greenmuze.com/green-your/fashion/3563-sexy-cardboard-couture-.html
Eco Fashion Week Vancouver- http://www.ecofashion-week.com/designers/eco_criteria/
Reusable Bag Dress – http://www.greenmuze.com/green-your/fashion/3555-reusable-bag-dress-.html
Newspaper Dress- http://www.garyharveycreative.com/
Olsen Haus- https://www.olsenhaus.com/
Cri de Coeur- http://cri-de-coeur.com/
Runway to Green- http://www.runwaytogreen.com/
Yves Saint Laurent- http://www.ysl.com/
Manolo Blahnik- http://www.manoloblahnik.com/
NRDC’s Clean By Design- http://www.nrdc.org/international/cleanbydesign/
Pure Citizen- http://www.purecitizen.com
Eco Fashion World- http://www.ecofashionworld.com/
Conscious Collection- http://www.hm.com/us/investorrelations/pressreleases/__prfashion.nhtml?pressreleaseid=1184