Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda once said that “true fashion is about non-toxicity. If fashion pollutes, it should no longer be called fashion, it should be called pollution”. The eco-movement gained steady momentum back in 2006. Now, it seems that sustainable fashion is commonplace, with eco fashion weeks popping up all over the world (most notably in Vancouver and New York). The movement has introduced a new line of thinking when it comes to buying and wearing garments, a kind of fashion morality, in which we as buyers and wearers are urged to be conscious of our clothing’s origins. A garment no longer solely stands for a designer’s artistry or craftsmanship, but rather their ethics and in some cases, their view on the environment.
The pros of adapting to planet friendly aesthetic are obvious: green friendly clothes create a green friendly industry. It is our social responsibility to support a system of clothing environmentalism that reduces fashion’s carbon footprint. This is all is well and good, however, how many of us actually care? It’s easy to be a well read consumer and the information is particularly accessible when it comes to keeping up green appearances, but are we committed to an organic overhaul or is all of this just another means of raising eco awareness? The problem lies therein: is this a trend? Or, is it the way of fashions future?
An adaptation to greener fashion pastures is a notion in itself that seems all too hopeful, especially when we have magazines and designers calling out to us that ‘green is the new black’. How can we whole heartedly adapt to sustainable fashion when it sometimes seems that it’s still being sold to us as the new thing? Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Be politically correct but don’t go on about it.” These are the same issues that the organic food and organic skin care movement both face too: it’s hard not to see something as a trend when it’s being marketed as one.
Local heavyweights Gorman launched Gorman Organic back in 2007 to offer “a sustainable choice without compromising good design and quality”. That perceived compromise is one that consumers grabble with. In many cases, eco fashion is still viewed as long, dull coloured boho skirt that happens to have been woven with organic fibre. Less chic than the “real” stuff. Alex Trimmer, of Melbourne’s own Sosume acknowledged this instance for an article that appeared in The Age. He said, “People don’t always know that this more timeless, more expensive aesthetic comes with less pesticides, minimal water usage and certified organic standard and I don’t want them to,” he says. “They buy it because of how it looks and feels.”
Perhaps the only way for us to move forward is not to overhaul our wardrobes but instead to overhaul our thinking. If it’s possible that the movement may be less sustainable that the fashion itself, we have to change how we think about fashion. The problem we have with fashion now is that we’re all guilty of engaging in a little high street quick fix. We’re bombarded with multi season collections that ultimately results in a pith of ordinary clothing. Fashion editor Janice Breen Burns explores the idea of fast fashion in an article appearing in The Age, she says “our relationship with clothing, the most visible expression of who we are, has shrivelled to a near-loveless acquaintanceship best summed up as “Guess how much?” Fashion has become disposable by nature and therefore so are our feelings toward it.
The complexitites of green fashion may be more in depth than all consumers are ready for however there is no denying the importance of the shift, none the less the strong market. Of course there is a plethora of interest from eco activists and fashion enthusiasts alike. Fresh from being nominated in the Design Category for the Source Awards 2012, Tluxe will be holding a Sydney Pop UP sale on December 7 & 8. The sale will feature key season shapes such as breton tops, crisp cotton shirts, slouchy silk pants, sports-luxe track pants and sweats in the softest merino. Tluxe’s designs are made locally, using sustainable fabrics and sea safe dyes which in turn means their clothing will stick with you for the long haul.
Another (and probably more important) note to consider in our relationship with clothing is that a garment’s carbon footprint doesn’t end once we pick it up from the store or it gets delivered to our letterbox. It’s in the wearing phase of life where carbon emissions are most prevalent due to the water and energy use of washing and drying – a little something to think about if you’re one to just ‘chuck it in the wash’ after one wear.
If the whole concept of fashion is essentially dependent on the turnover of tastes, perhaps it’s time for us to assert some intelligence and be aware of the motives behind it. In an interview with The Ecologist, Stella McCartney affirmed the importance of the eco-shift. She said “Anything – this subject or in general – is in danger of becoming a trend or a one-off. The important thing is that everyone keeps an interest in it, and there is a vested interest because we live on this planet and we need to look after it, as without it, we have nothing.”