Wind-up phone chargers, solar-powered laptops, handbags made from recycled juice-boxes – hang on, what? You heard us – caring about the environment isn’t just a case of shoving rechargeable batteries into your radio or biking to work: it’s now time for your wardrobe to join the green league!
Eco-aware designers, creative upcyclers, and retailers with a conscience are each part of the growing movement towards environmentally-friendly fashion. It’s all about building a sustainable chain, where social responsibility and the environment are key elements in the creation of the catwalk-ready products. And before you even think it – no, we’re not talking hemp!
Clothes from the fashion tip
From locally-made hand-knits and recycled vintage garb to re-purposed industrial materials, eco-friendly clothing is made of diverse stuff. British designer Lu Flux has taken home the Innovation Award in conjunction with the Ethical Fashion Forum at London’s eco-conscious trade show, Estethica (now, there’s a mouthful) – her clothes are made from salvaged materials from textile recycling plants.
Just knit it
Gudrun and Gudrun, based in the Faroe Islands, hand-make and sell a range of knitwear made from entirely untreated and un-dyed Faroese wool from local sheep who live year-round on unfertilized grass. Plus, they work with waste-products from local food-production processes (lambskin and fish leather) and have links with a women’s empowerment project in Jordan. Organic, thrifty and political!
Then there’s Anke Domaske, a German designer and microbiologist – a quirky combo that’s allowed her to develop a pretty idiosyncratic line in milk fibre. She isn’t the first to use it – it was a WWII innovation, a refinement of casein, a product used in the industrial production of plastics and glues – but Domaske has perfected a chemical-free production-method, meaning that it’s entirely natural, and, like all milk fibre, totally biodegradable. It’s a kind of silky jersey-knit, in case you’re curious.
As you’ve probably gathered, a common factor in eco-living, whether it’s cooking or clothing, is a No Waste policy – and American designers 100% NY are devoted to this. Their patterns completely eliminate textile waste (15% waste is the industry norm) and they make sure each piece of fabric is responsibly sourced.
Right up your high street
If all this sounds too haute couture for your wallet, don’t worry – the High Street has also got a rather green tint. Shops like Debenhams, John Lewis, TopShop, Monsoon, M&S and more, all stock a growing amount of eco-friendly clothing and accessories. Look out for Fair Trade and organic labels to be certain – and brands like People Tree (Fair Trade and certified by the Soil Association) are a sure-fire bet. Marks and Spencer, with Oxfam, also launched a clothes-swapping/recycling scheme in Spring 2012 (Shwopping!) – to help reduce landfill.
Finally, if you’re a budding fashionista with a crush on your planet, make sure to check out the National Association Of Sustainable Fashion Designers – they’re all about social change, environmental impact, and, most importantly, training, so that the next generation of trendsetters knows the eco-score.
It’s clear there are a ton of talented designers creating clothes, which make your wardrobe greener. Question is are you willing to wear them? Let us know here or at @Nokia_Connects.