After an unusually cold and snowy winter here in NYC the first sign of spring calls for some soul searching and spring cleaning…of the wardrobe that is. As you’re staring blankly into your “so last year” closet full of uninteresting clothing that you just can’t bear to put on again this spring, why not make some wardrobe changes that will make both you and the earth look good?
Did you know that women spend eighty-five cents of every dollar in the marketplace? Imagine how much power that gives us. That organic shirt we buy today can convince a grower to switch to organic cotton tomorrow. So before we run off to indulge in some thoughtless impulse buys let’s pause for a second and think twice what message we want to send out to the clothing industry. Will we support the corporate consumerism of mass produced stuff made in China, under questionable work ethics, or invest in eco-friendly quality brands that will stand the test of time and not pollute the environment?
But what exactly is Eco Fashion?
The simple answer is that eco fashion is used to describe clothing, and accessories that are made of environmentally responsible fabrics and materials by using ecologically responsible ways of production.
This type of clothing is usually made with organic raw materials like organic cotton that has had no chemicals or pesticides used on it, hemp, organic wool, recycled materials like plastic from old soda bottles, and others.
With the green revolution causing a giant overhaul in the fashion world there are some amazing designers across the world that have been using organic and sustainable materials for years, proving that it is possible to be eco-friendly and fashionable resulting in a lighter impact on the environment.
I asked some of my favorite movers and shakers in the green fashion industry to share their forecast for what 2011 may mean for sustainable fashion design, the natural and social environment, and to share their favorite trends for Spring/Summer 2011. And here’s what they had to say.
So, where is fashion taking us: to a new era of sustainability or the old era of consumerism?
Designer Alex Trimmer of Sosume, a Melbourne-based brand leading the way in socially responsible fashion, strongly believes that the “trend is shifting and consumers are much more conscious of their shopping decisions, more so now than ever. I believe it will take more than a year to show a strong shift, but a look back in another few years time will prove that a new era is building stronger and stronger every year!”, says Alex.
This Spring/Summer he suggests to go for “eco-friendly garments that don’t look it- so,… a smart button-up vest or some super soft jersey that is breathable. Nothing feels better that a buttery soft tee. It’s a wardrobe must-have! I’m also a sucker for a maxi-dress. Classics are always a safe bet.”
Here’s from Sosume’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection.
The PJ Short is made out of 100% cupro. It features an elastic waist band with a paper bag top and big side pockets. Super simple, super easy, great for summer.
The Anorak Jacket is made from 100% cupro, a natural fabrics derived from bark. It is made locally in Melbourne, Australia and features drawstrings, pockets and a high, floppy collar with arm sleeves tabs to roll the sleeves up.
Jada-lee Watson, designer behind Nixxi, a Vancouver based contemporary line, believes that must haves for 2011 should consist of “pieces that are easy to wear, simple cuts such as leggings and a flowy top or a light sundress.”
So what is our eco future like: sustainability or the era of consumerism? “Thinking positively, I would have to say a new era of sustainability. But there is no escaping consumerism, just that we can all make more conscientious choices in how we consume.”
Jada-lee reminds us that eco-friendly fashion isn’t just about the products, it is about the way in which you shop for them. “To me, sustainable fashion is thoughtful purchasing of each piece of clothing that you bring in to your wardrobe. To consider where it is made, to really look at the quality of the fabric and the stitching so that it can last throughout the seasons. Choosing pieces that are classic and versatile that work well with your existing wardrobe and lifestyle.”
Here are few amazing pieces from her 2011 Spring/Summer collection.
The Empress Dress and Raglan Scoop are comfortable pieces that work for many different styles and occasions.
Amy Hall from amykathryn handbags, one of the fastest growing brands on the market whose celebrity clients include Pink, Hillary Duff, Selma Blair, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, says that the Spring 2011 eco-friendly must have is a shopper tote to take to the market or grocery.
“Fashion is where our eco-consciousness starts..” , she continues. “When we get up in the morning and make everyday decisions like what am I going to wear, and which bag am I going to use- that is making a statement and doing a little something to help heal our planet.”
And her absolutely stunning bags are definitely making a statement.
These bags are oversized and perfect for professional and busy women with a lot to carry. The vintage denim look is really popular and perfect for the spring season. They are colorful bags that actually match with a lot because of the vintage denim look of the faux leather.
Arlene Nilsson, designer behind another accessories brand The Hemptress, believes that as we slowly emerge from the recession, “eco fashion will begin to become more prominent. Because eco friendly materials often cost more, price points are generally higher than their non eco friendly alternatives so many eco manufacturers either went under or struggled during the recession. I am now getting lots of calls from new “eco” fashion boutiques around the country.”
Arlene says that “texture is very big with handbags and accessories, and overall in fashion. Raw hemp has a lovely texture and lends itself well to handbags as it is strong, durable and heavyweight.”
See some of the gorgeous sustainable pieces from her 2011 collection:
The Hemptress’s Mercedes Carryall is new and a different take on their popular Mercedes Satchel. It comes in black, raw hemp and terracotta.
The Pompidou Collection (available in May) is vegan and it is inspired by the Pompidou modern art museum in Paris. It is made by using laminated hemp and organic cotton, with a vegan leather trim.
It has big plastic zippers (made from recycled plastic), and the checkered lining is made from hemp and recycled plastic bottles. The tote has an iPAD pocket in back, and inside the large wristlet you find credit card holders, cell phone pocket, patch pocket and zippered pocket. No wallet needed!
Designer Elizabeth Olsen from Olsen House – pure vegan, a shoe brand that is not only animal friendly, but also planet friendly, believes that must haves this season are shoes that successfully combine eco-friendly and sustainable/recycled materials with “beauty, art and style.” Her 2011 spring collection is made from natural cork, wood, recycled plastic bottles, and recycled television film waste made into ultra-suede material.
So, I asked Ms. Olsen where we are heading in 2011: to a new era of sustainability or the old era of consumerism?
Elizabeth believes that “awareness is the new cool as the whole world transitions to a consciousness that is less self absorbed and more of a global conscious, repaired collective consciousness.”
She reminds us that “there is nothing wrong with material ‘things’, but it is all the damage created in the process of, and ego attachment to things” that are problematic. We are creating “cheaper, faster goods, the quality is lower, and the items have no meaning. The damage occurs to people, animals and the environment. And the actual cost of the damage done is too high and not sustainable,” says Elizabeth. She concludes that in 2011 “we are moving away from things, so much as becoming aware of everything and changing what things we take in and why.”
So, as you’re staring blankly into your “so last year” closet, remember that whatever you do, it can start with a small step that really helps the environment!
So go girls, walk the talk and wear it well.
Olsen House shoes are simple and modern, flattering yet comfortable, with color that pops and sustainability that lasts.