January 26, 2010

H&M: Organic Cotton Fraud?

via: Ecouterre

Two weeks ago, we blogged about H&M's new eco-friendly "Garden Collection." Although we were supportive of their efforts, we did have some doubts as to how "eco-friendly" the line was, considering such a low price point.

So it's not to our surprise to hear the recent speculation that H&M's eco-friendly materials are actually 30% genetically modified cotton, and not organic. The contaminated cotton was traced back to India, which is responsible for more than half of the global supply of organic cotton. This means that it is not just H&M who is using genetically modified cotton, leading other retailers and brands to investigate the issue.

Although H&M is moving in the right direction with their attempt to be more eco-friendly, this mishap can be a lesson for all designers, brands, and retailers to see how imperative it is to thoroughly monitor the supply chains and work in transparent production systems.

January 20, 2010

The Upcycle, Recycle Business

 via: Flickr 

As much as we love technology, sometimes it's nice to just go back to the simple life of making use of what already exists. In consideration of how much waste we produce, whether it be food, clothes, packaging, or office supplies, recycling is something that we can all do a lot more of. And Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle, shows that you can also make a successful business out of it, too.

While as a business student at Princeton University, Szaky took leftover food from the school cafeteria and fed it to worms. Turning waste into rich fertilizer, he then sold it in discarded soda bottles. Flash forward five years, his humble business has turned into a global food and packaging recycling program with five warehouses across the US, and more in Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, and the UK. Working with some of US' biggest consumer companies, including Kraft, Mars, PepsiCo, Kimerly-Clark, and General Mills, TerraCycle boasts with over 100 products made from recycled trash. Circuit boards are redesigned as picture frames, juice packs are collected into making backpacks, and cookie wrappers are reworked as pencil cases.

As all industries strive toward greener practices, the future of recycling has become more innovative in developing creative, sustainable solutions. As we look even in the fashion industry, the exclusive Parisian fashion house, Maison Martin Margiela, has been doing it since the beginning of its career through the Artisanal Line, transforming every day objects into high-end couture. And the more commercial brand, Urban Outfitters, has offered reworked vintage clothing through their Urban Renewal line for over twenty years.

As environmental consciousness continues to rise in importance, the fashion industry has been more keen on the idea of recycling. Last April, Fendi threw a performance art-like event "Craft Punk", challenging designers to create objects, art, and furnishings using materials discarded from the Fendi production process. And just last month, Stefano Pilati of YSL released his second edition of the capsule collection "New Vintage", offering his classic silhouettes made from recycling unused fabrics from the YSL archive. There are also more smaller boutiques, like Clothespin and Reformation, both of which have opened this past year, offering a unique, stylish assortment of reworked vintage clothing.

From the runways to the shopping malls, recycling is becoming a common thread in the fashion industry. And as sustainability is essential to it's future success, we have no doubt that in the years ahead, the concept of recycling will continue to grow as it is taken to the next level. As for any industry, innovation does not necessarily mean high-tech; sometimes brilliance can be discovered in the ordinary.

January 14, 2010

Support Haiti

As many of you are aware, on Tuesday January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Immediately following the tragedy, there have been various recovery efforts mobilized around the world, all assisting earthquake victims. Together, we can support and help those in Haiti rebuild their lives and communities.

The following organizations are accepting SMS donations in the US only:
SMS text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts.
SMS text "YELE" to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele Haiti's Earthquake Relief efforts.

UNICEF, World Food Program, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Lambi Fund, Doctors Without Borders, and Care are all also accepting donations through their websites.

January 13, 2010

H&M's Garden Collection

 via: H&M 

Expected to launch this coming March, H&M's new eco-friendly line, The Garden Collection, offers a wide assortment of feminine and stylish pieces, all priced under $60. Using only organic or recycled materials, some of the materials used in this collection include organic cottons, organic linens, recycled polyester, polyester made from PET-bottles or textile waste, and Tencel. And as the name suggests, the collection is inspired by chlorophyll-green gardens; summer dresses in romantic floral prints, blouses with colorful garden prints, and skirts with bright ethnic floral patterns.

However, with such a low price point, we can't help but question if the production is any different from their other lines. Where is all of this being made and by whom? And as the collection is filled with brightly colored patterns and prints, the dye process is also questionable. Although the concept of using organic and recycled materials is great, we hope that this line will expand beyond fabric choices on what it truly means to be an eco-friendly line.

It's just a bit difficult to not be so critical considering that the look book for the Garden Collection was released immediately after New York Times highlighted a pile of unsold clothes trashed outside H&M's 34th Street location in New York City's Herald Square.

Nevertheless, the Garden Collection is still a positive step heading toward the right direction. We give H&M a plus for their efforts to use more eco-friendly materials. And as a global chain retailer, we are excited to see more conscientious fabric choices in the mass market and hope that this will encourage both consumers and other retailers to think more about fashion sustainability.

January 12, 2010

"This Just in From Vivienne Tam..."

via: Zimbio

As mentioned in our last blog post, the integration of fashion and technology is inevitable and happening now. One of our readers brought Vivienne Tam's latest collaboration with Monster Cable to our attention and we wanted to share it with the rest of you. With her previous collaboration with HP, Ms. Tam is not new to the idea of fashion technology.

With more information coming up this February during NY Fashion Week, the designer and Monster Cable will be introducing a limited edition headphone product made especially for the stylish women who want to truly express themselves and their personal taste. Recognizing that music and fashion go hand in hand, Ms. Tam quotes, "Fashion and music give you a different journey, different world and experiences of life. Music gives my design movement and rhythm. I dance with my designs. Double Happiness."

We're thrilled to hear about this collaboration and will keep you updated once we find out more information. And of course, we always love receiving suggestions from our readers. If you have anything you want to share, please don't hesitate to email us!

January 8, 2010

What's New in Fashion?

With constant technological innovations, new ideas and concepts are continuously being developed in the product field. Even within the last few years, we have seen revolutionary concepts; we have smartphones, the iPhone, BluRay DVD players, and now even HD 3-D enabled televisions. There is always "the next big thing" that consumers can't wait to get their hands on. Despite the economic state, innovation is rampant in product development and people are willing to spend big bucks to keep up with the latest techno gadgets. 

The fashion world, however, seems to be barely hanging in comparison. As many retailers are struggling to meet sales goals and the average consumer is no longer interested in paying full price, the retail and fashion industry is faced with a great challenge.

As technology continues to take the lead, fashion houses and retailers must realize the importance of collaboration outside the fashion realm. The future of fashion is much more than recycling trends and updating silhouettes, but rather experimenting with new concepts. Like any other industry, and with today's fast and ever-evolving society, in order for fashion houses and retailers to succeed, there needs to be more innovation.

photo via: Freshnness Mag 
Opening Ceremony, for example, takes a fresh new spin of the hotel shop experience with their latest venture of opening New York City's second store at one of our new favorites places, the Ace Hotel. Beyond clothes and fashion, this shop caters to the avid traveler's lifestyle; offering stylish, unique souvenirs of designer totes and accessories exclusive to the location, and collectible treats from around the world. With a personalized and distinct shopping experience, this is what will stand out amongst the other small boutique shops.

photo via: Design Boom
A few giant retailers are also making progression. Uniqlo's HeatTech line is a great example of combining technology and fashion, offering basics made from a mixture of rayon and milk protein that traps body moisture and uses it to retain heat.
photo via: The Daily Beast
Following similar ideas of Target and H&M designer collaborations, Gap recently collaborated with Merci, one of our favorite Parisian boutiques mentioned in an earlier blog post, bringing the commercial market together with small, high-end fashions. The internet is also inevitably going to change the retail scene, as Sears and Walmart both have online marketplaces, like Amazon and Ebay, allowing other firms to sell merchandise on their site.

Despite the economic state, the longevity of designers and retail companies is not the next sales goal, but creativity and smart design. Although fashion trends are developed and inspired by what is going on around us, the more interesting and exciting aspect of fashion is how it can be a leader of innovation, rather than it's follower.

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