Monday, April 4, 2011

Eco-Fashions: It’s Getting Easier to be Green

Smart linen trousers

I’m far from being a super environmentalist. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to save the Earth in little ways--my children wore cloth diapers till they were a year old, I've recycled all my adult life, I buy environment-friendly household products, I buy locally whenever possible, I use totes for shopping, and so on. And I’m always on the lookout for other small ways I can help. Since April is Earth Month, I’ve been thinking about eco-friendly fashions. Specifically, I’ve been wondering how accessible Green fashions are and what sort of selection there is in terms of styles and prices. Could buying eco-friendly clothing be the next little thing I do to help the environment?

Green fashions made a big splash with the FashionFuture runway show during Fashion Week in 2005. Well-known designers embraced organic fibers. However, the trend faded with “the global recession and consumer skepticism about just how environmentally friendly fashion could be,” according to a New York Times article, entitled Does This Green Flatter Me? The Times article reported a recent charity auction at Christie’s to benefit the Earth called “Bid to Save the Earth.” (Apparently, a trip for two to the Chanel couture show raised $65,000.) The event also included a runway show of 32 outfits by designers who have said they will investigate sustainable manufacturing.

There were also rumblings of new Green fashions at the Fall 2011 Fashion Week in February. Tree Huggers has a slide show of the hot eco-friendly trends from the show.

Fashion Week and charities at Christie’s always attract lots of attention, which is a good thing when it comes to raising people’s eco-conscience. But what about eco-fashion for civilians like me? What’s available and is it affordable? Below are some of the eco-clothing companies I found outline.

Beklina, is an online boutique with unusual, eco-friendly tops, bottoms, dresses and outerwear. After I’ve taken care of the basics—T-shirts, slacks, and pencil skirts—at the department or chain clothing stores, I like to visit eclectic boutiques for a one-of-a-kind piece that provides a little individuality to my style. Usually boutique items cost a little more, but I don’t buy a lot of them. At Beklina, dresses run from $89 to $650. I thought a few of them would look great over leggings, like the Stewart Brown Shirt Dress on sale for $110 (size Large only).

Coclico calls itself eco-conscious. Shoes are made with accredited leather and use a vegetable tanning process. Beautiful, unique shoes, including flats and low heels, range from $110-$485. Handbags, too.

Eco Citizen fashions include shoes with recycled soles and made of “non-leather.” Right now, the shoes are on sale for $47-55. Sizes are limited.

Fair Indigo creates fashions in cotton and silk as well as bamboo (T-shirts). The company has mostly USA-made T-shirts ($25-$35, average). However, there are eco-friendly dresses, skirts, cardigans and even jewelry. Right now there's an Essential Pima Cotton Shirt for $17.96 (60% off) in three colors and all sizes.

Gaiam creates comfortable, casual clothing in organic cotton and natural silk. The company has a small, but nice collection. I didn’t see a price tag over $100.

hessnatur webshop features clothing made with natural fibers. Hessnatur is dedicated to organic production and fair working conditions during the growing/processing of the natural fibers used in its clothing. This is one of the largest collections of organic garments I found online. The natural fiber--cashmere, silk, cotton, hemp, linen, virgin wools--fashions are moderately priced.  I think they're a good value because they're well-made, eco-friendly and stylish. Take, for instance, the airy, loose-knit, like the Organic Cotton Cardigan ($118) below.

Organic Cotton Cardigan

People Tree is a UK clothier dedicated to fair trade and ecology-minded manufacturing practices that minimize the environmental impact. The company accepts British pounds (not US dollars), which is good news for UK shoppers, but not such good news for American shoppers.

Shop at Pure Collection
is also a British company, but it accepts US dollars. Since 2008, Pure Collection has been creating sustainable garments, which apparently protects the grasslands from over-grazing. Fashions are made of cashmere, silk, cotton, linen and various wools. Take, for instance, the Smart linen trousers (was $148, now $118.40) at the top of this post. There's also a cropped version on the site. Click the photo or name to see the entire collection. The Cropped cashmere cardigan (was $148, now $118.40) below comes in 8 colors. I wear sweaters all summer long because of air conditioning and I love cropped sweaters over sheaths. I also wear them over dresses and jeggings.

Cropped cashmere cardigan>

For more leads on eco-friendly fashions, check out Commerce With A Conscience.