Can you save the planet and be stylish? Once limited to scratchy shirts made from hemp, ‘green’ fashion has now evolved into a hot topic in the fashion world – with labels like People Tree and Edun creating entire collections of environmentally-friendly clothing.
But how do you define ‘green’ fashion? Eco style can mean using materials from ethical or sustainable sources, ensuring that workers are treated in an ethical way, and using and reusing recycled materials. Now green girls are focusing more than ever on where their clothes come from, where and how they’re made, and what they’re made of.
With style icons like Emma Watson the poster girl for People Tree, and Colin Firth’s wife persuading him to wear a recycled suit to the Oscars this year, green fashion has never been cooler! And it’s not just the celebrities who are catching the green bug – London Fashion Week hosts an event called Esthetica showcasing the movement of cutting edge designers committed to working eco sustainably (now in its tenth season), and students at top NY design school Parsons have been working on ‘no waste’ garments.
Just take the current trend for ‘upcycling’ – creating garments out of scraps of material, or reworking ‘rubbish’ or waste material into something new. Livia Firth’s Oscar outfit was exclusively designed by Orsola de Castro of From Somewhere, who used pre-consumer waste of high-end Italian design manufacturers: end-of-roll fabric, discarded silk and organza offcuts, as well as silk chiffon plucked from unfinished petticoats and other cutting process leftovers.
So how to upcycle your own wardrobe? The key is to focus on minimising waste – wearing vintage or second hand clothing, customising old clothes into something new, and buying from stores that have great fair trade or sustainable credentials is a good start. And there’s no reason why you can’t stop shopping – just show your support for designers making new clothes out of found objects.
Here are four of our favourite ‘upcycled’ pieces:
The Jackalope Ring
Deer antlers are now regarded as an environmental and sustainable crop – so we were drawn to this unusual ring. Made by a community of jewelers in Portland, Oregon, this ring has been crafted from shed antlers, collected off the ground.
Recycled Cork Belt
A clever use for cork, designer Nyovee has crafted a tough belt out of leather and recycled cork. The pale colour is perfect for Spring.
A romantic necklace of reclaimed and found objects, you’ll find vintage earrings, a vintage watch face, driftwood and bone woven together in one statement piece.
Saako Design Scarf
Is it a necklace? Is it a scarf? This fluid piece can be worn as either. Hand made by a community of Portuguese women using traditional methods of embroidery, and using recycled material, this accessory has seriously green credentials.