Sunday, December 30, 2012


Origami dress made (by me!) from an Anthropologie magazine page with instructions from ideasmag

For the most part, flavor-filled concoctions and mouth-watering desserts made with eye catching artistry can be more appealing than a handful of unsweetened fiber cereal or dirt-encrusted fruit. Given the choice, what style-minded maiden would opt to reach in the dirt for a raw root vegetable over being served the mesclun medley at a Michelin-star restaurant… just because it’s “better” (for the body and the environment)? Welcome to the world of sustainable fashion...

Icons exemplifying the idea of "going green." Image via Ian Barnard design 

While “faux” fur, leather or wood may be friendlier for Earth, there’s something about indulging in pure, unadulterated luxury that outshines the benefits of reducing the carbon footprint in the eyes of the average consumer. Maybe it’s the detailed refinement of a garment, the unparalleled comfort of chemically treated and mechanically refined material or just the idea that a sustainable supply chain is supported by tree-hugging off-brands, not the fashionably elite.

NYFW sketches from Huffpost and recycling image from 3200stories blog

Thus, eco-friendly fashion often carries the stigma of the legendary red-headed stepchild. Even when hints of environmental awareness cross a designer's mind, do the "organic" materials, added effort and stylistic compromises fit into a company's business plan or brand image? Where does fashionable inspiration end and environmental responsibility begin? Is it possible to have both without settling on aspects of either?

H&M dress made from organic cotton // Gucci sunglasses made from liquid wood // Issey Miyake 132 5 outfit made with minimal waste**

In terms of a consistent collaboration between high fashion and Mother Earth, I've certainly had my doubts. Sustainable style doesn't often look or fit better (think tofurkey instead of turkey). However, over the last year or so, I've witnessed an evolution of sustainable style within the realm of corporate fashion--most of it has been surprisingly successful. A few highlights include:

 w PPR Group, owner of luxury brands Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Puma and others, has made a commitment to reduce waste generation, water use and sourcing of chemicals and hazardous materials starting in 2012 and progressing over the next 5 years. (News story here)

 w Gucci has turned to "liquid wood", a biodegradable combination of wood, fiber and wax, as a substitute for plastic in the production of its sunglasses in 2012. (Read more here)

 w Issey Miyake introduced its 132 5 brand which employs recycled fibers and unique methods of production relying on mathematical algorithms, origami and heat press. (More here) 

w Known for her vegetarian styles, Stella McCartney started selling pumps in fall of 2012 with soles made with plant derived plastic and launched a lingerie line that incorporates organic cotton and recycled metal hardware. (More here)  

 w In the world of fast fashion, H&M released its trend-savvy Conscious line in 2011 and has developed a full program around environmental responsibility in addition to producing clothes made from Tencel, hemp, organic linen and recycled materials. (Details on H&M's site)

From instituting a “slow fashion” approach, to using less water or minimizing waste in manufacturing, to incorporating organic and recycled materials in the supply chain, there are many opportunities where a slight shift in methodology can be significantly valuable for Mother Earth over a period of years. It's promising to see fashionable brands step up and make waves in sustainability, without sacrificing style in the meantime. 
**Images from H&M, Urban Times and Issey Miyake websites


  1. Great post - It's really encouraging to see larger organizations making commitments to improving their operations to support sustainability. I think that over the next 5 years we'll see a lot more firms joining that group - but I'm curious as to how many will be sharing their results!


    1. Thanks! I look forward to featuring a few NYC designers in 2013 that make stylish and sustainable go together quite well!

  2. This is great! Since the fashion industry is such force in the world I think they really need to stand up and take notice of what's going on around them! Love your creation!

    1. Thanks! Stay tuned for more in 2013!

  3. Hi!
    I found your post through Links A La Mode as I was also nominated for 3rd Jan!
    This post is so inspiring - wish there were more like this!

    Holly x


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