January 17, 2011

The Green in Fashion...

"Sustainable," "organic," and "eco-friendly" are terms that are still relatively new trends in the fashion industry. It may seem like we've been hearing these words forever, but it really wasn't until early last year when major retailers and designers began to heavily market eco-conscious goods. 2009 was the starting year for many companies to seriously think about going green as many eventually began offering eco-friendly versions of their key products such as H&M's Garden Collection and American Apparel's Sustainable Edition.  However, were such beginning initiatives the first and last?

photo via: NY Times

 As sustainable development was on the rise, eco-friendly jeans was naturally one of the biggest denim trends of 2009. Brands all across the board, including Levi's, Banana Republic, 7 For All Mankind, and J Brand all offered at least one pair made with some amount of organic cotton. However, the NY Times pointed out earlier this month, that now, about a year later, none of these eco-friendly versions exist.

One has to wonder why and what does this mean for the future of eco-friendly fashion? One's immediate reaction is probably some level of disappointment. However, do not be quick to judge. Although these eco-friendly versions may no longer exist, it does not necessarily imply that environmental responsibility is just a momentary fad of the past.

In actuality, many of these denim brands have realized being eco-conscious is not just about using organic products. As we've discussed many times in our earlier entries, there are dozens of other factors to consider: water use, dye impact, soil health, labor issues, fair trade, etc. Yes, Levi's no longer has their eco-friendly line, but instead, it has joined the nonprofit organization, Better Cotton Initiative. Focused on creating a greater impact, they are working with farms in India and Pakistan that focus on sustainable-agriculture techniques, water use and economic and labor issues. The Better Cotton Initiative produces cotton that uses one third less of the normal amount of chemicals and water regular cotton uses. Although Levi's will first blend this cotton with conventional cotton, the goal is to eventually use it in every one of their styles.

Levi's Matchstick Slasher Jeans from the WaterLevi's)

Considering all aspects of sustainability, last week, Levi's also launched a new line of denim called "the Water." As water conservancy is a huge concern in the global community, the new collection reduces water consumption by an average of 28% and up to 96% for some new products in the line. By simply reducing or eliminating water in their dyeing and washing process, Levi's realizes that being eco-friendly and fashion forward is not only easy, but also economically smart and morally right.

As 2009 and 2010 were the starting years for many to take a dip in the green pool, there is a slow but growing shift in the retail industry to integrate sustainable practices as a more cohesive effort. As major brands like Levi's develop their sustainability practices in a holistic approach, the retail industry has definitely matured in their methods of going green.

So before we wrap up this post, we wanted to share a few new interesting examples that caught our attention:

photo via: Reet Aus

Only using production leftovers and discarded garments, Estonian fashion designer Reet Aus truly works by the motto, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Click here to see her latest collection!

photo via: Reco Jeans 

Perfectly mastering fashion-forward and sustainable innovation, Reco Jeans is the first and only green label certified recycled denim product. 

photo via: Ecouterre
Better known for it's 2-year wait listed Birkins, Hermes, is taking a stab at sustainability with their new limited edition  "Petit h" collection. A series of "unidentified poetic objects" crafted from defective inventory and leftover merchandise, the design team transforms scraps and defects into beautiful house adornments and fashion accessories. Leave it to Hermes to define "recycled luxury"!

That's it for today, but don't forget! MBF will cover the up-and-coming trade shows in Berlin, including the sustainable trade shows, so stay tuned and we will keep you updated with what else we come to discover!


  1. So interesting..Thanks for the article..Erika LuluBoopVintage

  2. What a great article! The beauty and cosmetic industries have been developing eco-friendly products and packaging for about a few years now. I knew the fashion industry would soon start to incorporate this trend into product development as well. Although it is a little more challanging to do so in apparel it will start to make a boom soon.



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