Sunday, November 22, 2009

FASHION FOR ALL

Written by Abigail Doan

n the ongoing quest to refine the materials and methods of sustainable style and the underpinnings of eco fashion, one must not overlook another persistent force fueling the democratization of contemporary fashion – DIY fashion. For some, the DIY realm rather frightfully necessitates that one be super crafty and adept with sewing kits and bolts of fabric in order to excel, but for others the DIY spirit is merely a matter of learning how to be clever, resourceful and often ritual-like in one’s examination of how to wear and don things more sustainably.
HandmadeNationGraphic.jpg
Handmade Nation Graphic

I am reminded of the early days of DIY fashion and the brilliant, groundbreaking blog, fiftyRX3 created in 2005 by Jill Danyelle. For anyone who does not know about Jill’s creative foray into the depths of sustainability and sartorial innovation, this is a primer for all fashion blogging that followed. Created as a 365-day project ‘documenting (Jill’s) goal to average fifty-percent sustainability in the clothing that (she) wore for a year’, the reuse, reduce, recycle mantra was further personalized by the author’s clever and artistic interpretations of ‘the true substance of style’. The Uniform Project of 2009 further plays with this admirable goal, adding an element of theatricality to the multitude of ways that accessories can add mileage to the most basic, covetable garment.

JillDanyelle_fiftyRX3.jpg
Jill Danyelle fiftyRX3

Perhaps one of the most empowering elements of the DIY fashion movement, particularly in regards to eco fashion, is the practice of thriftiness and trash-to-treasure wizardry. With prospects like e-bay, the increasingly popular swapping and swishing parties, and local flea markets to comb through, a resuscitated “objet d'art”, lovingly rescued from the bin or some one else’s closet, becomes a rewarding gem of a find. Closing the loop on ownership and the possibilities of fashion resuscitation seems to bring us closer to the materiality of our lives and our relationship to the life and death of our garments.

SublimeStitchingTemplates.jpg
Sublime Stitching Templates

One of my favorite fashion/design blogs to address our day-to-day consumption habits and the upcycling possibilities that might be crafted in our domestic sphere is Swyyne. Founded by the savvy fashion editor and writer Yuka Yoneda, Swynne (pronounced ‘swine’), dishes up the ‘true confessions of a recovering gluttonness’ via an examination of the clothing flotsam and fashion cravings of contemporary life, smartly satiated by Yuka’s DIY recycling projects, ‘freecycle Fridays’, and some refreshing tongue-in-cheek humor.

YY: It seems like there are always haterade-drinkers trying equate eco-fashion with something that is price-prohibitive or only for the bourgeoisie. To that, I just want to respond by saying "Hey, I just ripped apart this old mumu and sewed it into a supercute A-line minidress for the mere $10 it cost me to buy it at a thrift shop and about $20 worth of elbow grease. Isn't that eco-fashion that is both cheap and green?" And I think there are plenty of other DIYers out there who will back me up - just check out Etsy.com.

TheUniformProject.jpg
The Uniform Project

In many ways, the DIY movement is eco-fashion at its realest. It's the gritty underbelly of eco-fashion that neither flaunts its organic fabrics nor boasts about its lack of sweatshop labor, because it doesn't need those things to make it environmentally friendly. My "organic fabrics" are old stockings and ripped sweaters and my "fair trade labor" is my own foot on the pedal of my sewing machine in my bedroom. Fashion that you make with your own two hands is proof that you don't need money to participate in the eco-fashion movement.

One of the best ways to get someone to recognize the value of an object is to have them create it with their own two hands. I deconstructed a fabulous floral print dress the other day, figuring it would be simple to put it back together, but it wasn't. It took time, consideration and effort to make it look the way that I wanted it to. And I realized that the construction of the dress was really only one tiny step in producing it from start to finish. What if I had to grow the fibers the cloth was woven from and then paint on the intricate pattern? What if I had to mold the golden button that clasps the collar together or carry the final piece to Asia? All of these thoughts flowed through my mind as I stitched. For me, the act of fabrication bonds me to my creation and infuses me with an appreciation for it and the materials it is made of. Hopefully, that is true for other DIYers, too.” - YY

There is no doubt that the rise of online DIY retailing venues like etsy has fueled a revolution in the handmade aesthetic of handcrafted, hands-on fashion. At perhaps no other time in history have artisans, designers, and new fashion labels been able to create, share, and sell their latest designs as a one-person enterprise via the vast open market of the Internet. The rise of handicraft, fueled in part by Faythe Levine’s hugely popular film, Handmade Nation has also been a grassroots way of reaching out to the community, while also becoming more grounded when times are tough. DIY projects and the communities that support them often soften the blow of challenging times.

EkovaruhusetCrochet.jpg
Ekovaruhuset Crochet

It is not so much how DIY projects liberate us but perhaps how they bring us together that should be the point of fascination for us all. I am reminded of Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching initiative, where embroidery patterns can be easily acquired online, to embellish and humor one’s day and flouncy apron. Threadbanger DIY projects are fun to watch on video, but I for one, am not able to follow their rather complex instructions conveyed at lightening speed. The idea of stitching a cute bumblebee on my lapel, though, somehow seems so fashion-forward in ways that surely have nothing to do with the trendier preoccupations of eco fashion.

My uber-talented friends at The House of Organic and Eko-Lab spend long afternoons conversing together - collaborating, sharing, and discussing - the pros and cons of crafting sustainably for the fashion realm. It’s an attitude that seems to permeate all that they create and market, from free-form crochet collars to the hand-dyed ecouture dresses that they send down the runway. In this instance, DIY becomes DIO (do-it-ourselves) as a new way to bolster the independent labels of fashion craftivity as well as models for sourcing, producing, and marketing one’s unique collections and designs. With more and more venues like The Ethical Fashion Forum’s social networking site as well as open source blogs like Hiphonest popping up , it seems as if DIY strategies are taking on even more democratic dimensions in the effort to cross-pollinate fashion knowledge and skills for all.

Read more ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FASHION FOR ALL

Written by Abigail Doan

n the ongoing quest to refine the materials and methods of sustainable style and the underpinnings of eco fashion, one must not overlook another persistent force fueling the democratization of contemporary fashion – DIY fashion. For some, the DIY realm rather frightfully necessitates that one be super crafty and adept with sewing kits and bolts of fabric in order to excel, but for others the DIY spirit is merely a matter of learning how to be clever, resourceful and often ritual-like in one’s examination of how to wear and don things more sustainably.
HandmadeNationGraphic.jpg
Handmade Nation Graphic

I am reminded of the early days of DIY fashion and the brilliant, groundbreaking blog, fiftyRX3 created in 2005 by Jill Danyelle. For anyone who does not know about Jill’s creative foray into the depths of sustainability and sartorial innovation, this is a primer for all fashion blogging that followed. Created as a 365-day project ‘documenting (Jill’s) goal to average fifty-percent sustainability in the clothing that (she) wore for a year’, the reuse, reduce, recycle mantra was further personalized by the author’s clever and artistic interpretations of ‘the true substance of style’. The Uniform Project of 2009 further plays with this admirable goal, adding an element of theatricality to the multitude of ways that accessories can add mileage to the most basic, covetable garment.

JillDanyelle_fiftyRX3.jpg
Jill Danyelle fiftyRX3

Perhaps one of the most empowering elements of the DIY fashion movement, particularly in regards to eco fashion, is the practice of thriftiness and trash-to-treasure wizardry. With prospects like e-bay, the increasingly popular swapping and swishing parties, and local flea markets to comb through, a resuscitated “objet d'art”, lovingly rescued from the bin or some one else’s closet, becomes a rewarding gem of a find. Closing the loop on ownership and the possibilities of fashion resuscitation seems to bring us closer to the materiality of our lives and our relationship to the life and death of our garments.

SublimeStitchingTemplates.jpg
Sublime Stitching Templates

One of my favorite fashion/design blogs to address our day-to-day consumption habits and the upcycling possibilities that might be crafted in our domestic sphere is Swyyne. Founded by the savvy fashion editor and writer Yuka Yoneda, Swynne (pronounced ‘swine’), dishes up the ‘true confessions of a recovering gluttonness’ via an examination of the clothing flotsam and fashion cravings of contemporary life, smartly satiated by Yuka’s DIY recycling projects, ‘freecycle Fridays’, and some refreshing tongue-in-cheek humor.

YY: It seems like there are always haterade-drinkers trying equate eco-fashion with something that is price-prohibitive or only for the bourgeoisie. To that, I just want to respond by saying "Hey, I just ripped apart this old mumu and sewed it into a supercute A-line minidress for the mere $10 it cost me to buy it at a thrift shop and about $20 worth of elbow grease. Isn't that eco-fashion that is both cheap and green?" And I think there are plenty of other DIYers out there who will back me up - just check out Etsy.com.

TheUniformProject.jpg
The Uniform Project

In many ways, the DIY movement is eco-fashion at its realest. It's the gritty underbelly of eco-fashion that neither flaunts its organic fabrics nor boasts about its lack of sweatshop labor, because it doesn't need those things to make it environmentally friendly. My "organic fabrics" are old stockings and ripped sweaters and my "fair trade labor" is my own foot on the pedal of my sewing machine in my bedroom. Fashion that you make with your own two hands is proof that you don't need money to participate in the eco-fashion movement.

One of the best ways to get someone to recognize the value of an object is to have them create it with their own two hands. I deconstructed a fabulous floral print dress the other day, figuring it would be simple to put it back together, but it wasn't. It took time, consideration and effort to make it look the way that I wanted it to. And I realized that the construction of the dress was really only one tiny step in producing it from start to finish. What if I had to grow the fibers the cloth was woven from and then paint on the intricate pattern? What if I had to mold the golden button that clasps the collar together or carry the final piece to Asia? All of these thoughts flowed through my mind as I stitched. For me, the act of fabrication bonds me to my creation and infuses me with an appreciation for it and the materials it is made of. Hopefully, that is true for other DIYers, too.” - YY

There is no doubt that the rise of online DIY retailing venues like etsy has fueled a revolution in the handmade aesthetic of handcrafted, hands-on fashion. At perhaps no other time in history have artisans, designers, and new fashion labels been able to create, share, and sell their latest designs as a one-person enterprise via the vast open market of the Internet. The rise of handicraft, fueled in part by Faythe Levine’s hugely popular film, Handmade Nation has also been a grassroots way of reaching out to the community, while also becoming more grounded when times are tough. DIY projects and the communities that support them often soften the blow of challenging times.

EkovaruhusetCrochet.jpg
Ekovaruhuset Crochet

It is not so much how DIY projects liberate us but perhaps how they bring us together that should be the point of fascination for us all. I am reminded of Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching initiative, where embroidery patterns can be easily acquired online, to embellish and humor one’s day and flouncy apron. Threadbanger DIY projects are fun to watch on video, but I for one, am not able to follow their rather complex instructions conveyed at lightening speed. The idea of stitching a cute bumblebee on my lapel, though, somehow seems so fashion-forward in ways that surely have nothing to do with the trendier preoccupations of eco fashion.

My uber-talented friends at The House of Organic and Eko-Lab spend long afternoons conversing together - collaborating, sharing, and discussing - the pros and cons of crafting sustainably for the fashion realm. It’s an attitude that seems to permeate all that they create and market, from free-form crochet collars to the hand-dyed ecouture dresses that they send down the runway. In this instance, DIY becomes DIO (do-it-ourselves) as a new way to bolster the independent labels of fashion craftivity as well as models for sourcing, producing, and marketing one’s unique collections and designs. With more and more venues like The Ethical Fashion Forum’s social networking site as well as open source blogs like Hiphonest popping up , it seems as if DIY strategies are taking on even more democratic dimensions in the effort to cross-pollinate fashion knowledge and skills for all.

Read more ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

GUESS GOES ORGANIC FOR INVISIBLE CHILDREN

Written by Vanessa Voltolina

Celebrities have always been on the cutting edge of what’s new and fashion forward, particularly when it comes to going green. Back in the day, hip New York designs from Doucette Duvall developed a following with Sadie Frost, Rihanna and in the Sex and the City movie; and as of late, more and more celebrities have been launching their own sustainable fashion lines.

GUESSInvisibleChildrenTeecloseup.jpgThis trend continues with nonprofit Invisible Children, which combines celebrities, a big-name designer and organic materials to create a buzz. It all began when the Invisible Children partnered with denim label GUESS back in 2006. It was the daughters of GUESS CEO Maurice Marciano, Caroline, 18, and Olivia, 16, who first convinced their father—and the mega-brand--to design for the cause. Ever since, GUESS has been a part of a number of initiatives for the organization.

This year, GUESS and Vanity Fair magazine unveiled the 2009 designs at an October 21 Invisible Children event in Beverly Hills, California. Hosts were actresses Kristen Bell and Rachel Bilson, as well as Fall Out Boy musician Pete Wentz, with celebrity appearances by AnnaLynne McCord, Shenae Grimes, Ben McKenzie, Rick Foxx, Chris Lowell and others.

KristenBellhostsInvisibleChildren.pngGUESS’ 2009 designs benefiting underprivileged youth are both homespun and organic, made from Edun Organic Cotton grown and harvested in Uganda. The men’s designs are short sleeve crewneck tees with an Africa graphic on front and a charity logo on the back; the women’s racerback tanks include a floral graphic that reads “LOVE.” Both sets of apparel will benefit education and economic rebuilding in the war-ravaged country.

Beginning this past Monday, the t-shirts and tanks will be available on Guess.com www.guess.com and in every Guess store across the United States with 100% of the sale price going to Invisible Children.

Read more ...

Friday, November 13, 2009

ORGANIC ADVENTURES

Written by Magaly Fuentes

Whether it’s a long hike, boarding down a mountain, fishing on a lake or camping in the woods - there’s no better way to enjoy the bountiful gifts of Mother Nature than to experience the thrill of the outdoors.

Performance clothing for the active lover of the outdoors has to cover a lot of bases, protecting you from the potential harshness of different climates and allowing you the flexibility to play. Clothing for outdoor activities should be water resistant, breathable, durable, reliable, comfortable and versatile. Add fashionable and eco-friendly to the mix and it’s no short order but many dedicated companies are investing money and time into the research, testing, and development of new fabrics and techniques to bring customers exactly what they need and want.

Nau2.jpg
Nau

The outdoor gear industry has stepped up in the mission to lighten the fashion industry’s carbon footprint with the use of materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled nylon, soy, hemp, corn fibers, and bamboo. Technological advances continue to allow room for improvement as the spotlight moves from the typical synthetics of the past toward sustainable plant-based fabrics that successfully resist moisture, control odor and shield the wearer from ultraviolet radiation. Although the future just keeps looking brighter, there’s already quite an impressive selection of eco-gear for the outdoor adventurer.

Superstar outdoor apparel companies helping us to brave the elements while brilliantly blending performance with aesthetic appeal include:

prAna – Prana is the sanskrit word for “breath.” Breathing their green production values into the world, this company creates yoga and climbing gear, a product line that is diverse and truly demonstrative of their eco-focus. www.prana.com

Patagonia.jpg
PATAGONIA

Patagonia – Radical views, unconventionally run, passion for the outdoors – all things representative of this successful and inspiring 30+ year old company that provides a full range of outdoor gear and accessories. www.patagonia.com

Nau – Beauty, Performance, Sustainability – these words encompass this company’s mantra as they continue to develop a multitude of new eco-fabrications offered in stunning styles while consistently encouraging industry peers to do the same. www.nau.com

Nau.jpg
NAU

Hemp Hoodlamb – As the company name suggests, they believe in the wonders of hemp. This amazing material is worked into a very strong fiber which protects from the winter cold. Their product line is proof positive of the endless possibilities of hemp. www.hoodlamb.com

Howies - It’s all about the journey! This company believes in making high quality, low impact products for sports and every day life and they have managed to add “super cool-looking” to their already extraordinary bag of sustainable goodness. www.howies.co.uk

Read more ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TRENDS IN SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING

With Black Friday quickly approaching, be inspired by these innovative ways to shop!

We have previously reported about companies that let consumers rent expensive clothes instead of buying them. The latest to join the herd is New York-based Rent the Runway, which allows women to rent designer dresses. The concept is simple: you browse through RTR´s collection, order your dress and receive it the next day. The cost is around 10% of the retail price and ranges from USD 50-100. RTR offers customer friendly extra services like the same dress in a second size to ensure it fits and another dress as back-up style for just 25 USD. Brands currently on offer include Just Cavalli, Helmut Lang and HervĂ© Leger.

Another trend that appeals to transumers is to be part of the creation process of a product. Online indie clothing retailer ModCloth asks its customers to help choose which items to take into production. As the company explains: "Sometimes there are designs that we absolutely adore, but the designer can only put them into production if they make a large quantity. As a small company, it’s difficult for us to make these big inventory commitments without knowing if you will love the designs as much as we do." ModCloth launched the Be The Buyer initiative two weeks ago and encourages its fans to add comments on each design, and to share their voting decisions on Facebook and Twitter, turning the voting process into a useful marketing tool for the company. If a design is taken into production, customers who voted for it receive an email notification as soon as it's available, allowing them to be the first to buy and wear it.

hubshop.jpgThe last trend worth mentioning is shopping in multi designer stores like The Hub Shop. The Hub Shop recently opened in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and rents out empty cube-like boxes under attractive conditions. Any product or service with a sustainable or social touch can be sold at The Hubshop. The concept is not only perfect for small brands and designers who can´t afford a retail space, for customers it´s ideal to find so many ethically made products in one location. We look forward to shops opening at the other 50 Hub locations around the world. Happy shopping!


Read more ...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Emma Watson to launch ethical fashion label

EMMA Watson is set to branch out from her Hollywood career - by launching her own ethical fashion label,
according to reports. The star is close to securing a deal with Fairtrade company People Tree to create a
teenage clothing line, which she hopes to launch later this year. Emma - who was recently unveiled as the face of
British fashion house Burbery - has previously said she is not a fan of celebrities cashing in on their names.

But a source close to the young star told Britain’s Daily Mail, “She’s a big supporter of ethical concepts so liked
the idea of this.
“There’s also a lot of interest from other influential brands since her success as the face of Burberry. “Acting is
always going to take priority, but she’s keen to branch out.”
A spokesperson for the actress said, “Emma supports many Fairtrade organisations but has no formal
relationship with any company.”
Read more ...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Industry adapts to changing trends-make way for ethical fashion!

Last week was the largest Spring/Summer Pure show ever staged, with over 900 exhibitors from 35 countries. Even better news was that this year, brands were no longer categorised by their ethics but integrated with other stands: a significant and symbolic move forward, allowing buyers to appreciate the high standards of design first, with their ethics being the added bonus.

In the current economic climate, retailers increasingly need to find great products that give consumers that little bit extra of an incentive to spend their pennies, which may be why there was such an increase in attendees this season.

This boded well for the 106 ethical fashion brands exhibiting, whose designs are not only unique and innovative in their own right, but also happen to be fair trade, organic or sustainable.

At the ethical fashion seminars hosted by the EFF, some of the most exciting emerging designers were selected by speakers Jules Hau and Alex Smith. These included (amongst others), Nancy Dee, Terra Plana, Komodo, Pachacuti and Monkee Genes, as well as INNOVATION design winners, Mia and Lalesso, all from a variety price points, luxury and street-wear.

Max RogersD&G model Max Rogers shows his support at the ethical fashion seminar on 3rd August

The consensus was that ethical designers are successfully competing and integrating with other fashion brands in the way they communicate, market and sell themselves, demonstrating how the industry has embraced changes so far.

We’d love to hear what you think so please let is know your thoughts…How do you see ethical fashion progressing? What can be done to further engage and integrate with mainstream and designer brands? And the Biggie: how long will it take for “ethical fashion” to break out of its niche and become synonymous with “fashion”?

Further detail here
Read more ...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

* Environment * Ethical living The Observer Ethical Awards 2009: Natural selection

Welcome to the launch of the Observer Ethical Awards 2009, in association with Ecover. Ethical issues have been variously pitched as cool, transformed, rebranded and even normal (praise indeed given their former tie-dye/wind-chime hugging roots). This is all absolutely valid, but for our fourth awards, I'd like to pitch the ethical outlook as being simply vital.

Inevitably, given the current fiscal climate (politely described as "challenging"), some leaders and big businesses will try to weasel out of environmental and social justice commitment or scale back previously "ambitious" plans to become low carbon. If you like, this is the opposite of greenwashing but just as pernicious.

The best defence against such weaseling, when commitment to a better planet is more important than ever, is mass engagement and enthusiasm for new and better ideas, campaigners and their projects. And the Observer Ethical Awards are all about enthusiasm. Each year this is reflected in the fact that you vote in your thousands for the people and ideas you think make a real difference.

The judging panel is made up of the UK's top environmental and sustainability experts and some extremely well-known faces. Even when our judges are primarily famous for something else - say, acting in Hollywood blockbusters or writing the Booker prize winner - they are well versed in and passionate about a range of ethical issues from fairtrade and organic farming to low-carbon technologies. This is necessary because, going on previous years, victories are hard won and debate is fierce.

This is part of the reason why past award winners continue to set a new ethical agenda across the country, and even across the world. In June at the Awards party in central London, Annie Lennox presented the award for Conservation Project of the Year to a group of retired islanders who had set up the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (Coast). By September this same group had persuaded the Scottish government to create Scotland's first-ever No-Take Zone in Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran - decisive action that positively changes the outlook for future generations of fish and islanders. Vital action, you might say.

Read more ...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

5 Cheap & Easy Ways to Green Your Wardrobe

Written by Yuka Yoneda

As Inhabitat’s fashion editor, I spend a lot of time (yes, a tad bit little longer than is required for my job) perusing through seriously crave-worthy fashions, from the frilly and ethereal, to the haunting and hardcore. That being said, looking at all of these beautiful clothes can be very bittersweet when you’re working with a less than rockstar budget. In fact, one of the biggest complaints I hear about ethical and eco-conscious fashion is that it is just too expensive! I definitely acknowledge the fact that buying a lot of these labels is not cheap, but you have to admit that it makes sense that clothing using the latest and most innovative fabrics and paying fair wages to local people would be more pricey. I try my best to save up and buy my favorite eco-chic pieces when they go on sale to support the cause, but who says you need to spend big bucks to rock a look that is both green and cutting edge? Here are 5 easy and supercheap ways to green your wardrobe by using your noggin instead of your benjamins.
5. Flip It and Reverse It

Instead of buying two separate garments, diversify your wardrobe by looking for clothes that are reversible or double duty in some way. Dresses with cute patterns on both the inside and out (like the supercute baby blue number below) are a great example of getting two dresses for the price of one!
4. Call In the Swap Team

Swap meetups are a simple way to score fresh pieces for the new season without actually having to spend money on them. And since you’re basically trading clothing with other people instead of purchasing new, the whole process is very sustainable. If you’re looking for a swap meetup in your area, Meetup.com is a great place to find one (I recommend the Five Borough Clothing Swap Meetup if you are in NYC), or you can always host your own swap party with your friends! Real Simple has a wonderful guide with everything from how to organize your swap party to what to serve.
3. No One Has to Know That It’s the Same Dress!

In the past, fashion has been all about buying new clothes to keep your look fresh and discarding old ones. But why not revamp what you already have by accessorizing wisely? Take a cue from The Uniform Project, a clever and inspirational website that follows the daily fashion adventures of one girl as she recycles the same little black dress into a new creation everyday for a whole year, and use your imagination to make your own wardrobes staples sparkle again.
2. Threadbangers Unite!

This one is a no-brainer. Sewing your own outfits (especially out of reclaimed fabric from clothing you already have) means that you’re saving energy, materials and avoiding unethical labor. We love Threadbanger for ideas about everything from making a stylish slouchy dress out of old t-shirts to crafting a Balenciaga jumper out of scrap fabric. Need patterns? SANS has some simple and elegant ones for as little as $6.
1. Repurpose What You Already Have

Wait - don’t throw that away! Before you discard old clothes or accessories, consider what other ways you may be able to use them. From transforming tank tops that no longer fit into handy grocery bags to repurposing padded bra inserts as shoe insoles, chances are there are some pretty ingenious ways that you can turn your old junk into something you really need and save some cash while you’re at it!
Read more ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Primark protestors urge us to choose ethical fashion NOT fast-fashion

By Bertie Bowen

More than 30 supporters of ethical fashion were at the opening of Primark’s new super store but with 250 crazed shoppers to contend with we hope their message did not fall on deaf ears. The group ‘Labour Behind The Label’ organised the demonstration and their aim was to educate consumers who buy into fast fashion culture and make them stop and think about who may be really paying the price. Affordable clothes are vital but most Primark shoppers are buying more than they need. According to Labour Behind The Label, high street stores such as Primark are exploiting workers and damaging the environment. Workers based in Bangladesh are reportedly paid the equivalent of seven pence an hour for hard labour. With emotive banners, leaflets and songs, protesters urged shoppers to choose ethical fashion instead.

You can buy fashion every week if you wish, but to be environmentally and ethically aware try to buy from second hand shops, vintage markets and, of course ethical fashion brands. Shopping in this way, you can make a long-lasting difference whilst ensuring you are individual and stylish.
Read more ...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So cool, and so ethical

Not long ago, ethical fashion had an image problem. No one wanted to wear baggy-bottomed Thai fisherman's trousers or an ecru smock top. Unflattering and unappealing, eco-fashion was best left to eco-warriors.
But there has been a definite swing over the past year. Ethical consumerism – from buying products made from recycled or renewable sources to supporting companies that adhere to fair trade principles – is on the rise. It is now cool to care.

So cool in fact, that the latest edition of Vogue has devoted 10 pages to ethical clothing. And London Fashion Week, which starts next week, will include an exhibition space dedicated to 13 ethical labels.

But it's the celebrities behind the movement who are really making a difference. They've made ethical consumerism sexy. One is Bono. Last year, along with his wife, Ali Hewson, and designer Rogan Gregory, he launched Edun, a socially conscious fashion label.

Its clothes are made in locally run factories in Africa, South America and India and the company promotes trade rather than aid. The range is brilliantly designed: this autumn there are beautiful Art Nouveau printed silk dresses, elegant tie-neck chiffon blouses, urban skinny jeans and denim trench coats.

This year Bono also launched Project Red, a collaboration between Armani, Amex, Converse, Motorola and Gap. Each brand markets covetable and ecologically sound products under the Red banner; profits are donated to a fund fighting Aids, malaria and TB in Africa.

Project RED's unofficial face is Scarlett Johansson, who appears in October's issue of Vogue wearing Armani's designs for the charity. The actress told the magazine: "We don't have to live in a teepee and wear a hemp skirt to be conscious about what's going on. Maybe somebody thinks, 'It's cool that she's wearing the Red T-shirt, I'll hop over to Gap and pick one up'."

Gap, which launched the T-shirts in the spring ( parkas, hoodies and jeans will follow) isn't the only store turning out fashionable and ethically produced clothes. Last week saw the launch of Adili, a website devoted to the top 25 ethical fashion labels, including Ciel, Patagonia, HUG and People Tree, which has a concession in Topshop, Oxford Circus.

People Tree has given the movement a boost with Trudie Styler as its new face. It has designed T-shirts in conjunction with Action Aid; 10 per cent of profits will go to help raise Fair Trade awareness in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Small, independent fashion labels have also furrowed the green path. Brighton-based Enamore sells everything from pretty hand-made kimono tops to delicate hemp knickers ( far more appealing than they sound).

Chic shoes can be found at ethical boutiques such as Terra Plana, which designs shoes with recycled materials. And rather than squeezing into jeans made from cotton cultivated with pesticides, consumers can now choose brands such as Loomstate, whose eco-friendly designer jeans are sold at Harvey Nichols and Urban Outfitters.

Larger companies are catching on. Timberland, which sells eco-friendly footwear made with vegetable tanned leather and recycled rubber soles, is launching a reforestation project – it will plant one tree for each pair of boots sold.

And Marks & Spencer, which recently commissioned a survey that found that 78 per cent of shoppers wanted to know more about the way products were made, has just launched its own Fair Trade line.

Tesco, meanwhile, is to sell a range of organic clothing designed by Katherine Hamnett, a long-time crusader for ethical fashion.

Of course, it can be argued that eco-fashion is an oxymoron. How can eco-friendliness fit with so ephemeral an industry? The most significant progress should perhaps come from consumers: buying less, and more ethically, could be the most ecologically sound way to shop.

Further read the article here
Read more ...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ethical fashion design competition launches

The Ethical Fashion Forum has launched a design competition called Innovation, aimed at young ethical fashion designers or businesses.

The competition, supported by the London Development Agency, is open to young designers, or businesses, which have been in the industry for less than three years. Winners will be chosen on the basis of outstanding design and product standards, as well as innovation in relation to social and environmental sustainability.

Entrants have to submit two designs via an application form, which can be downloaded from www.ethicalfashionforum.com. The winning six entrants will receive business support from industry experts and be given the opportunity to showcase their collections at either trade show Pure or London Fashion Week.

The entries will be judged by a panel of industry experts including, Anna Orsini, head of international relations at The British Fashion Council, Yasmin Sewell, chief creative consultant at Liberty of London, and Dr Francis Corner, professor of Art and Design Education at The London College of Fashion.

Corner said: “Innovation is a great opportunity for new and emerging fashion designers and businesses who are committed to great design and to a sustainable and ethical industry. It will showcase their work, give them business support and generally assist the cause of creating a totally sustainable fashion industry.”

The application deadline is May 29, winners will be announced at the end of August.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ORGANIC & FAIRTRADE FASHION DOING JUST FINE

Have you been looking over your shoulder wondering if that credit crunch has hit support for eco fashion? Then worry not. Good news comes in two forms from key opinion forming organizations.

A GlobeScan survey on Fairtrade support, commissioned by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and ahead of celebrations for World Fair Trade Day 2009 on 9 May suggests Fairtrade certified cotton clothing is far from doom and gloom. Among the sample surveyed across fifteen counties, three quarters of shoppers still feel that companies should be going that one step further and ‘actively support community development in developing countries’ with nine out of ten people trusting the labels of the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark or North American Fair Trade Certified™. Despite the economy, 2008 sales overall were on the increase too, from 10% in the US to a whopping 75% in Sweden.

Binod Mohan, Chairman of the Network of Asian Producers and member of the FLO Board says, ‘We in Asia have faith in the consumer and their loyalty to buying Fairtrade products. For the shopper these are staple products; for the farmer in the developing world the purchase of Fairtrade makes a big difference and we know consumers realize this.’

Recent organic market reports from the UK’s Soil Association showed that the sales of organic certified textiles are also softening the blow of the recession. Sales forecasts are suggested to rise three times over by 2012, and sales exceeded a monumental mark of £100 million in 2008, with high street retailers M&S and New Look alone selling 3.4 million organic items.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wearing the Talk about Ethical Fashion

After graduating from Duke in 2007, Rachel Weeks went to Sri Lanka on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her interest in ethical fashion, a subject she explored in her Women’s Studies senior honors thesis, “The Wonder Bra: Theorizing Globalization, Women’s Labor, and Consumption for Twenty-First Century Feminism,” a study of the intersections between fashion and academic feminism. But her interest in the topic wasn’t just academic.

While researching socially responsible apparel manufacturing in Sri Lanka, Rachel founded School House, LLC, a “people friendly” fashion collegiate apparel brand. The Fulbrighter joined forces with fashion designer Colleen McCann over the Internet, and together they are now launching a 54-product collection at a number of U.S. universities—beginning with Duke. School House’s factory partner, JK Apparel, is the first living wage factory initiative in Sri Lanka and is supported directly through the sale of School House products.

Rachel felt the first stirrings of what became School House when she and classmate Haley Hoffman were planning DukePlays: the Party, which the Duke Libraries hosted in February 2007. Rachel said, “…absolutely, the idea definitely came to me as a result of the DukePlays party.”

Working with the theme “tradition never looked so good,” Rachel and Haley mounted an exhibit for the party of iconic Duke images drawn from University Archives and created an array of party favors that also paid tribute to campus life through the decades. Even Rachel’s party dress was inspired by the “tradition” theme. She said,

The reaction to my vintage Duke t-shirt dress from both current students and alumni made me start thinking about the collegiate market and the opportunities there were to improve design, product range, etc. Our “Green House” collection dresses are inspired by that first dress—each one is crafted from “recycled” Duke t-shirts…

Models wearing School House clothesPhotos by C. Stephen Hurst

The School House line will be introduced at Duke in a trunk show on Reunions Weekend. The trunk show will give fashionistas—and anyone loyal to Duke—an opportunity to learn more about the factory in Sri Lanka and the women who work there and see and buy School House clothes.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

'Fair trade is a slow process'

Safia Minney

What is ethical fashion? It's a confusing term. Sometimes it's easier to define by what it isn't – and unfortunately that is most of what can be found on the high street. Unethical fashion means very very little transparency, accountability and knowledge of the supply chain. It means demands of very quick lead times and production turnaround. It means producers played off against each other. It means a wage that doesn't even afford the worker an adequate salary for two meals a day.

In spite of this, I'm a bit sceptical about the term ethical fashion. There's a tendency for people to include brands that are doing small initiatives but haven't necessarily embraced transparency or meeting genuine ethical standards and environment standards across their supply base. A company might be a member of the ETI – the Ethical Trading Initiative – but the ETI really lacks the teeth to ensure clothing for the high street is made in decent working conditions.

At People Tree we position ourselves as a fair trade fashion pioneer brand. I've always wanted to wear fair trade fashion, but when I started work at 17 everything was horrible! I used to buy pieces and try and make them beautiful on my sewing machine but it really was difficult. So I started working with a designer in Tokyo, and gradually built up skills from different women's organisations in Bangladesh, India, Zimbabwe, Nepal and Kenya.

It was when I started trying to produce clothing that was made in a 100% fair trade way that I started asking the question – what is fair trade fairer than? Through working with activists who were looking at labour rights issues for garment factory workers in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, we realized just how awful the working conditions really were. In India at the time child labour was still being used and often environmental pollution was completely undermining the basic human rights of the people who lived in these areas. Consequently we joined the activists in campaigning for change, looking for solutions and to trying to create a voice for those people whose rights were being undermined by the fashion industry.

It's a slow process. We work on building a supply chain through incredibly small disadvantaged groups. These are people with fantastic traditional skills like weaving or block printing, but no access to the market. They deserve that access, and they deserve a living wage. So we give them technical assistance and support to bring their products to the market.

Working in a truly fair trade way means no short turnarounds – it takes a minimum of six months to bring a product from design to market. In mainstream fashion, producers don't get paid until they deliver. Small groups just don't have the financial resources to work like this – and in larger factories the producers will be exploited, working at a lower wage to create the working capital for that particular factory. Paying a fair trade wage means paying half up front, and paying more for the product itself.

Fair trade production isn't easy. The biggest problem is cash flow – although we're held up as a very successful model it took us eight years to break even in Japan and we haven't yet in Britain. Because we make advance payments there is a huge financial burden on the company, and despite lots of talk, there just isn't yet the 'patient capital' (investors looking for a long-term return - both morally and financially) to invest in companies like People Tree. The technical assistance and training we provide is also a financial burden. It's an integral part of what we do, but we have to pay those people a salary!

One of our proudest projects is Swallows in North Bangladesh. This is a women's group of 200 artisans ranging from weavers to tailors. The last 18 months have seen an increase in their incomes by 50% due to expanded product development and design using their traditional skills. We've taken them to visit other tailoring units and even bought some of their producers over to the UK to meet customers. In rural Bangladesh it's hard for people to understand fully what the average 32 year old in London wants to wear, how she lives. They've learned why fitted clothes are important, and seen how fashion retail looks in London – quite different, obviously, to Bangladesh.

It has given them the tools to really become part of the fashion industry and to feel that they are very much in control of the traditional process. That is what's really important.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Lindsay Lohan's ethical fashion shoot


Lindsay Lohan has posed in a selection of vintage clothing, in her new role fronting ethical fashion campaign Visa Swap.

Making quite a departure from her previous advertising shoots for high-end designers such as Miu Miu and Donna Karan, Lohan only wore second-hand clothing during the shoot, proving you don't have to spend a fortune to look stylish.

Commenting on her appointment, the Mean Girls star said, 'The concept of swapping clothes, getting something for nothing and refreshing your wardrobe appeals to everyone. Ethical stories continue to dominate the news agenda and it's great when fashion projects benefit charities.'

The event takes place this month in London's Covent Garden, and encourages shoppers to swap unwanted clothing. It is in association with clothing charity TRAID.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Future of Fashion is Ethical

Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of advertising that touts fashion apparel as organic; moving forward, it will also be "ethical." By definition, ethical fashion is "fashion that has been made, worn and passed on in a way that looks after people, animals, and the environment."

And it seems that there are several big names out there that are championing the cause. BBC is one of them, recently rolling out an online ethical fashion magazine titled "Thread." Being produced by BBC Learning, the online magazine is aimed at the 16 to 30 year-old crowd, because, as designer Katherine Hemnett cites, "young people are really interested in these issues."

What exactly qualifies as an "ethical fashion" issue? Everything from the environmental footprint created by clothing manufacturing and the impact of the fashion industry on human and animal rights to educating shoppers on why choosing ethical and organic makes a difference in the world’s future.

And of course, the celebrity crowd is already on the bandwagon too with supporters like Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, and actress Lindsay Lohan who is reportedly collaborating with Visa to sing the praises of ethical fashion. In addition, the team will be launching a campaign that will give people an incentive for turning in unwanted designer fashions - the idea being that they can then go shopping for new, "ethical" fashion.

Speaking of shopping for ethical fashion, it does come with a sizable price tag in most cases. After all, we’re not talking about clothing that’s being pounded out by factory workers stuck under sewing machines for 14-hours a day, seven days a week. However, if you’re socially conscious, you’re probably going to be willing to open your wallet for it.

And it you need a little push in the right direction, even after watching the videos and reading about deplorable working conditions that are written about over at Thread, you can always shop offline at Oxfam.

The charity group, has just launched its first high-fashion boutique in Westbourne Grove, London to coincide with World Fair Trade Day. Selling a range of second hand designer items such as Prada and Gucci at bargain prices, it makes ethical fashion shopping easy on your budget.

Whether you’re in London or not, be sure to take advantage of BBC’s online fashion magazine. The site promises to "show you how to get the look you want in an eco-glam way through a unique mix of affordable fashion, exclusive videos, photo galleries, and thought-provoking features."

courtesy www.fashion-fox.com



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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ready To Wear: Ethical Fashion?

Fashion, we all know, is about rather more than just frocks. With this in mind, the strange juxtaposition of two events in the British capital last Thursday provided food for thought. On the one hand, a substantial part of London's Victoria was cordoned off to allow the hugely privileged creature that is the core Chanel customer to attend that label's first ever fashion show in this country without having to rub shoulders with anything so unsightly as a member of the general public, say. On the other, outside branches of Topshop countrywide, War On Want were encouraging students - probably that high street institution's core customer - to protest against what it describes as the store's "exploitation of workers" in the developing world. "The 1.2 billion dividend for Sir Philip Green, who owns UK retailer Topshop, was enough to double the salaries of Cambodia's whole garment workforce for eight years," read a press release issued by that pressure group.

Of course, the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, today the grandest couturier still practising his craft, is unlikely ever to be strapped for cash. His income too would presumably keep a large proportion of the developing world in a manner to which it is not accustomed. Having said that, the more obviously elitist concern is, debatably, more politically correct than the democratic one, particularly in this instance.

Lagerfeld was in London, of course, putting on his annual Maisons d'Art collection, an event specifically designed to show-case the work of the atelier which provide the finest hand-crafted embellishment to all the great names, the embroiderer Lesage, the boot maker Massaro and the feather specialist Lemarie among them. Chanel has what might best be described as a special relationship with these workshops, having bought them outright five years ago now in order to preserve them not to mention the strictly unionised jobs of the skilled craftspeople involved, at least some of whom supplied the late Coco herself.

More broadly, for those bored of the rapacious pace of even the designer fashion industry today, investing in Chanel may be a shrewd move. As the unprecedented number of extraordinarily well-dressed clients at last week's presentation went to prove the label remains quintessentially chic, classically elegant and may be adapted to suit extremely diverse tastes, ages and body sizes.

There must be a downside, surely? But of course. Chanel, by almost any standards, is hugely expensive and there are therefore only very few who can reasonably consider buying it. A single piece from this great Gallic institution may be more precious than an entire high street collection, however. The rest of the world might have to make do with less rarefied designs but that doesn't mean we can't dream or indeed be mindful that these also come at a price.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Ethical Wedding; I do: Tying the knot is getting greener

Economic woes may be causing the appetite for expensive white weddings to crash, but at least one form of wedding is blossoming: the green variety. In tune with a thriftier climate, today sees the doors open on the UK's first major wedding show dedicated to brides and grooms wanting to minimise the environmental impact of their big day, and is just one sign of the rising trend.

Billed as the Eco Chic Wedding & Home Show, the event in Birmingham follows a flurry of new books, suppliers and gift lists on the subject of green unions amid reports from churches and wedding planners of a growing interest in the concept.

Though there is no hard and fast definition of a green wedding, typical conscientious celebrations include a focus on low carbon transport — horse-pulled wagons to gas-powered Bentleys — and local produce — organic beers to British cider.

"A green wedding is one that truly reflects the values of the couple by being conscious of consumption — from the venue to the dress and the reception decorations — and being aware of your carbon footprint," said Rosie Ames, the founder of Green Union, a website that puts couples in contact with sustainably minded suppliers.

"The British public are becoming more environmentally conscious, so it makes sense that this awareness will trickle down to all areas of their life including their wedding day," said Kate Haines, the show's organiser.

Wedding venues have noticed the trend. The Church of England, which is running a two-year project to make its churches more enticing for weddings, reported that it has begun receiving requests for couples wanting a sustainable special day. One such couple was Jessica Randall and Joseph Carrick, who held their wedding in St. George's Church, London, to enable guests to travel via public transport. "We also honeymooned in the UK to reduce our carbon footprint and had a gift list with Oxfam Unwrapped," added Randall.

Organisers behind the National Wedding Show, the UK's biggest wedding event, said they had seen a move towards "ethical" gift lists akin to the advent of goats for Africa and other philanthropic gifts at Christmas. Charities including Cancer Research UK, Oxfam and NSPCC all exhibited for the first time at its Olympia show last month .

The past year has even seen four books published on the subject. "Almost every wedding magazine has had a green feature this season but, unlike previous years, it has lost its alternative 'druid' factor. It's now seen as very in vogue to have organic champagne," said Jen Marsden, author of the Green Guide to Weddings.

Websites catering for the rising interest have also enjoyed a boost in traffic, with the Ethical Weddings site reporting a six-fold increase in traffic between January 2007 and January 2009. An online poll by You And Your Wedding magazine suggested 22.6% of 745 respondents thought about green issues when planning their wedding.

With the credit crunch biting and the average cost of a wedding hovering just under £20,000, according to Confetti.co.uk, there are also signs that more newlyweds are opting for UK honeymoons. The eco travel site Responsibletravel.com said it experienced a 144% increase between 2007 and 2008 for honeymoons in the UK, a trend it attributed to cost-cutting and avoiding the carbon footprint created by traditional long-haul destinations.

But not everyone is convinced couples are always putting sustainability first in their planning. "I've noticed over the past two years that clients are asking about the provenance of food, questions such as: where do you source your meat and cheese?" said Kelly Chandler, a wedding planner for the Bespoke Wedding Company. "But it seems more out of curiosity and a desire for a 'feel-good' factor, because it hasn't ever been a deal-breaker when venues aren't sourcing locally."

The terms "green wedding" and "ethical wedding" appear to have originated in the UK. Data from Google's Insights for Search service shows that searches for "green wedding ideas" have mushroomed by over 5000% in the past five years, with the UK outstripping the US and Australia by a wide margin for queries on the subject.

Perhaps the surest sign green weddings are going mainstream is that TV companies are sniffing around green weddings. Dragon's Den researchers are reportedly scouting the Eco Chic Wedding & Homes Show today looking for exhibitors to go head-to-head with Peter Jones and company.

Read more ...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

London on parade to show that ethical clothes can cut it on the catwalk

London Fashion Week has a longstanding reputation for creative exuberance. But yesterday it became clear that the city was gunning for a more grown-up label too: that of the most ethical of the four leading fashion capitals.

The British Fashion Council, who organise the five days of shows, chose to open the event not with a high-energy extravaganza from a bright young thing, but with the launch of Estethica, its showcase of ethical designer fashion.

The ethical initiative, now in its sixth season, has gained such standing that it has won government backing. Yesterday, Defra chose the event to launch its Sustainable Clothing Action Plan - Scap as it is rather unglamorously known.

Drawn up by leading names in fashion manufacturing and retail, Scap outlines commitments to make fashion more sustainable throughout its lifecycle - from design, to manufacture, to retail, to disposal. Many of the actions pledged by those involved are already underway and aim to have a marked effect on the environmental impact of throwaway fashion which sees two million tonnes of clothing end up in landfill every year.

As part of the deal:

• Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury's have pledged to increase their ranges of Fairtrade and organic clothing, and support fabrics which can be recycled more easily.

• Tesco is banning cotton from countries which use child labour.

• Oxfam and other charities will open more sustainable clothing boutiques featuring high quality second-hand clothing and new designs made from recycled garments.

• The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion will be resourced to provide practical support to the clothing sector.

• The Fairtrade Foundation will aim for at least 10% of cotton clothing in the UK to be Fairtrade material by 2012.

Lord Hunt, the minister for sustainability at Defra, boomed that he was "fantastically excited" to be launching the action plan at fashion week. From a lectern on the catwalk and dressed in a crumpled suit, Hunt said: "I couldn't think of a better place to be launching the roadmap."

Estethica aims to bring together like-minded ethical designer labels. It was founded by the fashion council three years ago to raise the profile of eco-sustainable fashion, making its image more cutting-edge and less worthy. The 37 designers in the showcase must adhere to at least one of Estethica's three principles: organic, fair trade or recycled.

Peter Ingwersen, the founder of Esthetica's most high-end label, Noir, said: "We all look to inspire the industry and consumers that sexiness, luxury, fashion, corporate social responsibility and ethics can work in harmony together without compromising style."

Yesterday's Noir collection highlighted the point that ethical fashion needn't be dowdy. The look on the catwalk was elegant with an edge, with a restrained colour spectrum that ranged from black leather to navy silk. Antique gold sequins and exposed zips provided the details.

This year London Fashion Week is celebrating its 25th birthday, but in keeping with the economic climate no inappropriately lavish parties have been planned. Instead, organisers are stressing that even in a recession, fashion matters. Figures were released showing that the event is worth £20m to the capital's economy in direct spending - from hotel bookings to food and drink - and generates clothing orders worth £100m.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, gave support earlier in the week by pledging to spend £40,000 to make sure that the world's top buyers attend. It had been feared that international buyers from the US would tighten their purse strings by skipping the event altogether and flying straight from the New York shows to Milan. A fear made more palpable by the fact that London Fashion Week has, this season, been squeezed into fewer days with longer hours. Johnson said: "Fashion, like other creative industries, plays a vital role in London's economic success. It is essential that we do everything we can to support the fashion industry." The investment from the London Development Agency will be used to fund 30 key buyers' trips to the event.

Despite the serious focus and the tighter schedule, fashion week is not expected to be a dull affair. Hilary Riva, chief executive of the fashion council, said: "It would be trite to say that the recession won't affect us, but London's designers have never had big budgets, and creativity comes out of the conditions our designers work in anyway. We've always been poor."

Read more ...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ethical Fashion Tops the Bill in London

The British Fashion Council, who organise the five days of shows, chose to open the event not with a high-energy catwalk extravaganza from one of the city's bright young things, but with the launch of Estethica, its showcase of ethical designer fashion.

The ethical initiative, now in its sixth season, has gained such standing that it has now won government backing. Today, Defra chose the event to launch its Sustainable Clothing Action Plan - or Scap, as it is rather unglamorously known.

Drawn up by leading names in fashion manufacturing and retail, Scap outlines commitments to make fashion more sustainable throughout its lifecycle: from design, to manufacture, to retail, to disposal. Many of the actions pledged by those involved with Scap are already under way and aim to have a marked effect on the environmental impact of throwaway fashion.

Lord Hunt, minister for sustainability at Defra, boomed that he was "fantastically excited" to be launching the action plan at fashion week. From a lectern on the catwalk, dressed in a crumpled suit and with the air of an embarrassing uncle, Hunt enthused: "I couldn't think of a better place to be launching the roadmap."

Estethica aims to bring together like-minded ethical designer fashion labels. It was founded by the BFC three years ago with the aim of raising the profile of sustainable fashion, making its image more cutting-edge and less worthy. The 37 designers now involved in the showcase have to adhere to at least one of Estethica's three principles: organic, Fairtrade or recycled.

Peter Ingwersen is the founder of Esthetica's most high-end label, Noir, who showed its collection on the catwalk today. He commented: "We all look to inspire the industry and consumers that sexiness, luxury, fashion, corporate social responsibility and ethics can work in harmony together without compromising style."

Today's Noir collection highlighted the point that ethical fashion needn't be dowdy. The look was elegant with an edge, with a restrained colour spectrum that ranged from black leather to navy silk. Antique gold sequins and exposed zips provided the details.

This year London fashion week is celebrating its 25th birthday, but in a nod to the economic climate no inappropriately lavish parties have been planned. Instead, organisers are keen to stress that even in the depth of a recession, fashion matters. Figures released show that the event is worth £20m to the captial's economy from direct spending - from hotel bookings to food and drink - and generates clothing orders worth £100m.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added his support to the catwalks earlier in the week by pledging to spend £40,000 to make sure that the world's top buyers attend LFW. It had been feared that international buyers from the US would tighten their purse strings by skipping the event altogether and flying straight from the New York shows to Milan. This fear was made more palpable by the fact that the London event has, this season, been squeezed into fewer days with longer hours.

Johnson said: "Fashion like other creative industries plays a vital role in London's economic success. It is essential that we do everything we can to support the fashion industry." The investment comes from the London Development Agency and will be used to fund 30 key buyers' trips to the event.

Despite the serious focus and the edited schedule, fashion week is not expected to be a dull affair. Hilary Riva, chief executive of the BFC, commented: "It would be trite to say that the recession won't affect us, but London's designers have never had big budgets, and creativity comes out of the conditions our designers work in anyway. We've always been poor."

Read more ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Handbag With Environtment in Mind

It all started when Ken Kobrick, an ex-welder, and Angela Greene, an inventor who doesn't even carry a handbag, decided to dive headfirst into the incredibly competitive world of the accessories market.

The idea was born when, in 1999, Angela purchased a backpack made from inner tubes. Inspired to create their own collection, they decided to take on the creative challenge of using discarded tractor tire inner tubes and converting them into high-end, luxury accessories. Deciding to make a "green" impact on the accessories market was logical, because Kobrick and Greene are both committed to recycling, and they were passionate about creating products that were functional as well as unique and classic in design. Neither had any formal design background, but soon the couple was experimenting with hand sewn designs.

"We started making the bags in our 900-sq.-ft house, and had to throw away our old couch to make room for the industrial sewing machines that we purchased with our 401K,” explains Kobrick about the brand’s modest beginnings. “The only room that didn't have inner tubes or a sewing machine was the bathroom."

Passchal incorporates leather trim and sides to their rubber bags, keeping them lightweight and enabling the introduction of new colors and textures. In keeping with their eco-friendly beliefs, all leathers used are by-products, vegetable dyed and chrome free, and all bags are handcrafted using the highest quality hardware and materials available. The inner tubes are collected in VA, Ohio and GA, and undergo a rigorous but environmentally friendly, multi-day cleaning process. To date, Passchal has recycled approximately 20 tons of inner tubes!

The line launched in May of 2004, and through word of mouth, instantly caught the attention of both media and celebrities.
Passchal bags have been featured on The Today Show, and in Entrepreneur and Rolling Stone magazines, to name a few. They have also been featured at the Billboard Music Awards and at Olympus Fashion Week.

In early 2008, Angie and Ken rented the property next door, and converted the 1500-sq-ft house into a design studio. All of the inner tubes are still stored and processed on their property. But – for the record – they got a new couch.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

'Ethical fashion is about being creative'

eco friendly clothes

Jo Wood
, founder of Jo Wood Organic. She explains why now is the time to make a big change.

My understanding of ethical fashion started in my teens. My mother is a doll maker and so I was always surrounded by fabrics, buttons, Victorian petticoats and old dresses. I'd watch her turn old clothes into beautiful inventive outfits and it became clear to me from a young age that clothes can be used and reused.

I would mix, match and recycle clothes from those early times. In fact the day, or rather the night, I met my husband I was wearing my granny's old dress. Even though I've been lucky enough to have access to some of the world's best designers and their new collections, I find nothing more exciting than finding an old item of clothing and giving it a new lease of life.

For a while in the 80s I bought a lot of new clothes. I was living in America and got swept up in the sheer number of shops, designers and the gluttonous consumer attitude that was sweeping the globe. It was during my time in the States that my sister and I found some of Ronnie [Wood]'s old flares and dressed up in 70s style, accessories and all. Laughing, we strode into the room where Ronnie was. He took one look and announced: "Mark my words, that look will be back in fashion one day."

He was right and it raises an important point; you only have to pick up Vogue from the last few decades to see how looks come back around and something that seemed simply unwearable one year is top of the fashion class the next. I have kept everything that Ronnie and I have bought since that time in the 80s and regularly dip into the 'treasure trove' to unearth some classic number. If I'm not in there, my daughter Leah is. If it's not her then the parents of my grandchildren are in there sourcing stuff for the young ones.


I'm not saying I never buy new clothes because I certainly do. I still buy well-made dresses and tailored jackets but more and more I am conscious of where the clothes are from and the impact they have had both sociologically and environmentally on the planet.

I am a total organic, live a strict an organic lifestyle and am passionate about being aware of where food, cosmetics, and clothes have come from. The more I have explored the path that consumables have taken to reach their buyers, the more concerned I have become about the ethical state we find ourselves in.

Over 90 million items of clothing are thrown away each year in this country alone. It seems to have become a habitual pleasure to throw something away and go straight back to the shops for more. Part of the cause of this problem is with the major distributors battling to provide the cheapest possible price for their consumer.

Garment workers throughout the globe are traditionally paid the minimum wage and work long hours in substandard, environmentally hostile conditions in order to produce the clothes that we take for granted. In the developing world, countries such as Indonesia and China mass-produce enough clothes to reach to the moon and back every day. This routine production and exploitation in the name of fashion means we can buy a new T-shirt for 50p while retailers reap huge profits from these suffering workers.

Over two thirds of the world's cotton is grown in developing countries and the former Soviet Union. Valued at over $32 billion every year, global cotton production should be improving lives. But this "white gold" too often brings misery. Along with the poverty and appalling working conditions created, the impact environmentally is enormously detrimental due to the chemicals used and the vast distances these items have to travel to get to the future buyers.

The problems don't stop there.

Discarded clothing and shoes are typically sent to landfill. There, textiles present particular problems. Synthetic products do not decompose. Woollen garments do, but in doing so they produce methane, which contributes to global warming and climate change.

At a time when the issue of global waste is on the political lips of leaders all over the world it is time to decide how we can do our bit. In a very basic sense it means that we take into account worker's rights, social justice and environmental issues. Ethical fashion is about being creative and embracing eclectic style. It's about cutting up an old T-shirt, some old jeans or a dress that's been hiding for years to give it new life. Dusting off those belts and hats. It's about being cautious about what you throw away; it's about wearing fashion that respects our planet; it's about creating a demand for ethical products so big fashion houses rethink their strategy. Ethical fashion is about buying garments from suppliers you can trust. Ethical fashion has cool scribbled all over it.

The chance to make a big change is here; we just need to take it.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beauty Without Beastliness

Chilean Lip Panache
Looking good doesn't need to be bad news for the natural environment, provided you opt for brands with a sustainable approach. Try our five greener choices below and, naturally, dispose of them in a responsible fashion once you're done.

Eco concerns

• Palm oil deforestation. Many toiletries contain this near-ubiquitous ingredient which, as Fred Pearce explains, is having a huge impact on Borneo and elsewhere in south Asia.

• Chemicals. As Lucy Siegle notes, there are serious concerns over the toxicity of many cosmetic chemicals and the environmental impact of their supply chain.

• Animal testing. While UK law prevents animal testing for cosmetics, it doesn't stop companies selling beauty products here that were tested on guinea pigs elsewhere in the world, as our Lucy explains.

Top 5 green choices

1. Lush – massive range of Valentine's wares from bath-bombs to massage bars, produced to stringent ethical standards – as well as avoiding animal-tested ingredients, Lush won't deal with any supplier that's engaged in animal testing in any way.

2. Essential Care - the first firm to cook up an organic-certified shampoo, Essential Care has now branched out into organic makeup including everything from blusher, mascara and eyeliner to foundation, bronzer and lipstick.

3. Perfume – avoid synthetic fragrances with Lucy Siegle's guide to eco-perfumes.

4. Dr Hauschka – this highly-respected German natural beauty brand has a spread of gift boxes for Valentine's including, refreshingly, one for blokes too.

5. Babylis Eco Dry – this hair dryer uses just 1,000 watts, half the amount of an average one. It doesn't, however, take twice as long to dry your hair, says Babylis' "indepedent" tests.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Glitz and gongs as ethical fashion steals the limelight

Not so long ago, ethical fashion was perceived as the preserve of a tiny hemp-wearing, sandalled fringe. But further evidence that it is increasingly part of the glamorous fashion set came in London last night as models including Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof took to the catwalk wearing one-off creations by leading designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Zandra Rhodes at the finale of the world's first ethical fashion awards.

The Re: Fashion awards, judged by industry stalwarts including Katherine Hamnett and Jane Shepherdson, were designed to reward companies that have tackled headfirst issues like poverty, sustainability and the environmental impact of fashion. Many of these are small concerns, unfamiliar names to the high street shopper, but providing vital support and development in their areas.

Cristina Cisilino, who founded the jewellery company Made, won an award for the best practice in manufacturing in Africa. "I hope this award will mean that more people will place business there," she said.

"This time last year we were in the midst of the Kenyan uprising - but this just proves that even political unrest doesn't need to unsettle a solid business. Only this week we expanded the size of our workshop - and our workers are learning skills they can pass onto the next generation. They also have bank accounts for the first time, and can send their children to school."

Other winners included the website retailer Adili; the trainer brand Veja, for their consideration of the environmental impact of the production process; and the Fairtrade fashion company Pachacuti, who won awards both for their business model and their commitment to improving workers' lives. Marie Claire magazine won the award for consumer awareness of ethical fashion.

Ethical fashion has seen huge growth in the last few years. According to the Cooperative Bank's Ethical Consumer report, sales of Fairtrade and organic clothing grew by 70% to £52m in 2007, and this year is scheduled to see still further growth, despite the credit crunch.

The Ethical Fashion Forum also cite changing attitudes among consumers: in 2007 a survey by TNS Global found that 60% of under-25s said they bought what they wanted, regardless of where or how it had been made. This year that figure had dropped to 36%, suggesting that exposes and child labour scandals have made their mark.

Adding high-profile awards ceremonies to the mix may well help thriving but still vulnerable ethical fashion to weather the financial storm ahead.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eco and Fashion at the 2009 Golden Globes.









eco fashion handbag at golden globe awards

Justin Bruening, from Night Rider and Alexa Havins, All My Children star, pick out new Eco-Friendly handbags by Passchal at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards.


Eco and Fashion at the 2009 Access Hollywood TV Celebrity gift Lounge in celebration of the Golden Globes.


This year the fusion of fashion and eco friendly has taken a giant leap forward. The Passchal bag is being embraced by Hollywood's Fashion Elite.


Justin Bruening, with the Messenger Bag, and Alexa Havins, with a Yellow Scrunch, stop by the Access Hollywood Gifting Lounge at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood, California. They were admiring and picking out a new Eco-Friendly handbag by Passchal.


 


 




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Consumers’ ethical concerns over fashion hit record high

Nearly three quarters (72%) of British consumers think ethical production of the clothes they buy is important – up sharply from 59% last year, according to the latest Ethical Clothing Report from TNS Worldpanel Fashion. The most dramatic shift in attitudes occurred among young consumers: Last year 60% of under-25s said they bought the clothes they wanted and didn’t care how they were produced; this year only 36% say they do this.

At the same time people are more sceptical than ever of the ethical claims made by certain retailers and manufacturers: Over half (57%) express such reservations, a significant rise from last year’s 45%, and two thirds (67%) say retailers should use ethical practices across all their ranges, not just such marked as “ethical”.

When it comes to the factors that matter most, an overwhelming 72% of people say an end to child labour and sweat shops is very important, closely followed by offering producers a fair price (59%). While this is in line with last year’s results, consumers have become more concerned about the social impact of clothing production. In a list of criteria that are important to them when it comes to “ethical” clothing, respondents now rate “benefits to the producing community” higher than “no damage to the environment” (49% vs. 43% respectively), while “profits given to charity” and “organic fabric” remain the least important factors at 25% and 17% respectively.

An increasing number of consumers are also prepared to put their money where their mouth is: One third (33%) say they are willing to pay more for ethically produced clothing and footwear.

While one might think of young people as most concerned about ethical and environmental issues, the interest and the demand for ethical clothing is actually highest among consumers over 55. They make up one third (31%) of those who think ethical clothing is “very” or “quite” important, are more sceptical about ethical claims (63% of all 55+) and more willing to pay a bit extra (38% of all 55+) for ethical clothing.

Elaine Giles, Research Manager, TNS Worldpanel Fashion, said: “With the increasing attention brought to ethical issues by the media, awareness of the potential cost to humanity for ‘unethical clothing’ has reached unprecedented levels. Retailers must wake up to this significant consumer demand and increase their efforts to demonstrate their trustworthiness across all their ranges. Consumers will not be convinced by what they perceive to be tokenistic actions. There is a strong need for retailers to communicate their ethical practices more clearly and if they do this well, they can create a real point of difference for themselves that wins consumers’ trust.”

An executive summary of the report is available upon request.

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