Eco Friendly Fashion
Fashion designers creating eco friendly fashion, stores online offering eco friendly clothing, even some discount stores are responding to an interest in environmentally friendly fabrics.
Clothing from organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, soy and other fabrics are finding their way into our fashions as some designers and manufacturers are beginning to question not only the environmental impact of creating clothing but also considering the working conditions of the people involved.
The Problem With Fashion
A closer look at the fashion industry points out many problems that are common practices in the creation of our fashions from the field to the factory. Within the fashion industry there are those that have begun to question these practices, where clothes are frequently made by people in "sweat shop" conditions, making poverty wages, and using fabrics made from crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides and chemicals and processed with even more chemicals. The large quanities of cotton that is grown to make clothing is ever increasing and manmade fabrics are on the rise.
Until recently there does not seem to have been given much thought to anything but the final product. There is a dark side to an industry that represents fun, style, beauty, status, identity and sexuality.
Is Everyone Up For A Change?Other industries that design products are ahead of the fashion industry when it comes to choosing sustainable materials, designing for minimum waste, choosing energy efficient manufacturing and creating products for longevity. The fashion industry has been slow to adopt these changes and part of the problem is the very nature of fashion. Most of our clothes are designed to be used for a season or two.
Fashion is a fast paced business. Styles change rapidly. Colors come and go. Right now much of our fashion is viewed as something with a short lifespan. Manufacturers and designers may not be as willing to change how fashion is designed, source fabrics that are sustainable and more costly, or take on the higher costs to manufacture fabrics when employees are treated more fairly.
As more within the industry are starting to realize these problems we are beginning to see changes. Designers like Stella McCartney and Rogan Gregory among others have chosen to work with sustainable fabrics and concern themselves with the welfare of workers while some larger companies like Nike, Gap and Timberland are starting to implement both sustainable and ethical policies. But far too many big companies in particular are slow to respond.
Small Companies RespondSmaller companies have been taking the lead in creating eco friendly fashion. Some of them like Stewart and Brown, American Apparel and Del Forte have been creating clothing from eco fibers for years but have done so on a smaller scale. With environmental and ethical concerns on the rise we will need the large clothing manufacturers to respond to create a lasting impact and hopefully permanent change to how fashion is made.
Eco friendly fabrics present a company with obstacles to overcome. This is a new field and there just aren't that many growers that can provide a reliable supply at an affordable price or even mills that can or will work with the present smaller needs for eco friendly fibers. Smaller companies are better able to respond to these problems.
It's a challenge for sure but as these fabrics are proving themselves desirable in even high fashion and more people start working with them we should start to see eco friendly fashions we all can love and afford.
Can We Also Change Our Thoughts About Fashion?You and I are a big part of the picture when it comes to the success of eco friendly fashion and most of us will probably need some convincing. There are some big questions here too.
Doing Our PartThere is some concern that eco friendly fashions are just a trend that we will eventually grow tired of but we can make sure that doesn't happen.
Price is definitely a drawback but even small purchases can help. We don't have to replace our whole wardrobes. Add something from time to time. The next time you're shopping look for organic cotton or tencel. Watch for sales. Many of the shops listed on this site offer them periodically.
Buying and supporting eco clothing encourages everyone in this field to move forward with better styles and greater options that fit the mainstream shopper and eventually the prices will come down when we create more demand.
It's up to us to support positive environmental or social changes being made in the fashion industry. Hopefully, as these fabrics become more accessible we will begin to see more eco friendly fashion in big name stores. Already large companies like Nike, Patagonia and American Apparel are adding organic cotton to their clothing lines and that's just a start.
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