When the majority are given the words green, eco or sustainable, they think boring, plain and completely deprived of style or statement. What I’m bringing to you today is the side of this unofficial eco-fashion debate which can happily state that sustainable clothing can be gorgeous, understated or not, and it does not need style fixing at all. You can keep your much loved image and for less than half of the environmental damage (in fact there will be no damage at all when investing in an eco piece!).
So what is eco-fashion?
It’s another way of saying sustainable fashion – clothes making factoring in the environment, the animals, the consumers and the conditions of the workers.
As I’ve already mentioned they are predominantly made of raw materials (organic cotton – grown without pesticides, silk made by organically fed worms), they are also recycled materials and reused textiles – in some cases they are second hand clothes or made from recycled plastic bottles (this would work for a higher quality garment).
Eco-clothes making procedures do not involve the use of harmful chemicals or bleaches (to colour fabrics) that regular production methods feature, meaning not only tremendously less damage (irreversible damage I might add!) to the environment, but to animals and peoples vitality too.
The eco-method enables the reduction of waste, saving of energy and a way to minimise our carbon footprints. And when it comes to the people making the garments, with eco you can be rest assured they are working in good healthy conditions and are paid fairly (the fair trade movement is something most of us are familiar with). Speaking of fair, the process in which eco clothes are made means that you get long lasting products of a high quality – so you’ll be spending money very wisely, investing in your wardrobe.
I recently took a trip to the London Science Museum and a pleasant surprise for me was noticing mannequins with dresses and so forth on them, ‘hurray an area dedicated to fashion’ I thought!. However the real surprise was yet to be revealed. Upon getting closer (speed walking away from my partner over to my haven) I read the descriptions and realised the eye catching pieces were made from raw materials! My favourite piece, an evening dress entitled ‘daily fashion’, featuring a captivating almost bustier style front, a low back and a skirt that begins short at the front but flows out, establishing a length much longer (more train like) at the back – was made out of newspaper!
Artist, Yuliya Kyrpo – DAILY FASHION – Ever worn something once and then thrown it away? This fabulous frock is made of old metro newspapers carefully folded into a thousand origami cranes. Consider it a headline hitting comment on throw away fashion.
I couldn’t believe it, that these items were made from things such as newspaper, green tea and candyfloss.
Artist, David Anderson – SUGAR RUSH – The transparent layers in the skirt are little more than candy floss. They are fashioned from Ingeo, a ‘bio plastic’ produced from plant sugar. /the rest of the dress is made from organic cotton. Unlike oil, the source of most synthetic materials, Ingeo is fully compostable and will break down rightly in the right conditions.
I’m an honest person, so I will not hold back from saying that yes there were pieces that I thought should be not on a mannequin let alone a person due to their complete lack of positive complimentary style, but we get that even with items of clothing that are not eco-friendly. So the beauties I saw such as the metro dress, candyfloss dress and green tea jacket told me that it is possible to create some real gems using raw sustainable materials in a responsible and fair production environment.
Artist, Suzanne Lee – BIO-COUTURE – Is this jacket just your cup of tea? It’s fashioned from sheets of sugary ‘biofilm’ produced by the microbes that ferment green tea. The fabric was grown in a bathtubs, moulded to fit and then dried. When it wears out it can go straight on the compost heap.
It was actually this spontaneous trip that inspired me to look into this conscious fashion movement and share with you this fascinating aspect to the industry of today, along with some very interesting pieces. Pieces that demonstrate what imagination, care and untouched environmentally sensitive materials mixed together can achieve. ‘Ecological’ living other wise known as ‘Green’ living is definitely on the rise, and I believe Green fashion will be the way of the future, especially with more and more designers getting in on the new testament to fashion design and clothes making (current designers aboard the eco-ship are Stella McCartney, Peter Ingwersen and U2 front man Bono’s wife Ali Hewson). With modern clothes design and sustainable methods, we could have our green world and be happy to wear it too!
I must say, I’m now quite tempted to experiment with an ecological fashion piece. Perhaps you could try and create a work of wearable and sustainable art yourself, anything’s possible and this is a rather viable though challenging task to play with.
By Luisa Savino
Descriptions of items are the words as written on the display within the science museum.
Photographs by Luisa Savino