Friday, April 15, 2011

Eco-Friendly Fashion

I had an opportunity to speak at a meeting of Queens Holistic Mom's Network last night about "eco-friendly fashion."  I have been a fashion designer for about 15 years, and this is an important topic to me.   I am no expert, but I have opinions.
babyNOIR's upcycled vintage Sari dress

Trying to be a responsible consumer is a confusing thing - it encompasses many issues: to be responsible for my own health, for my neighborhood, for my country, for the fellow human beings, for our environment, for our climate, and for my child, to teach her to be responsible.

Sticking to organic cotton is good, right? - It's good for your body, but what about all the desertification it's causing in Central Asia?  How about bamboo fabric? - it doesn't need much water or any pesticides, but process requires some serious chemical, it's essentially rayon.  Overseas manufacturing should be avoided, right? - Ready to shut down often the only means of survival for hard working people in developing countries?  Ready to pay a lot more for not necessarily better quality?  The best denim comes from Japan, and most beautiful wool yarn comes from Italy.  Buy everything second-hand! - EVERYTHING? I think not.

Star Trek future in spandex
Fashion is a dirty industry, in many levels, just like many other.  The whole process of making clothes pollutes the surroundings from obtaining raw material to trucking the finished garments packed in poly bags.  Unless we all want to be in the Star Trek future where everyone wears the recycled spandex suits, we have to be sensible about making decisions.   

Buy smart, and don't own much.  Buy things that you can wear for a long, long time.  Buy clothes second-hand and alter them so they're cute and updated.  Buy from Manufacturers whose ideology resonates with yours whenever you can.  (Boycot Walmart, I say.)  Buy local, whenever you can. Then, you have the conscience credit towards that Vivian Westwood you fell in love with. 

Do Not Sacrifice Your Sense Of Style.