Monday, April 14, 2008

The Future of Fashion?

You couldn’t have passed 2007 without wanting last year’s biggest selling bag. Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m not a Plastic bag” started out as $15 canvas bag. The bag retailed for 5 pounds in the UK but quickly fetched $400 Ebay. San Francisco just banned the use of plastic bags a few months back and Vogue recently spoke about the new "it" accessory of the season being a bag with sustainable style. Knock off’s of the bag quickly came into the market, proving that if you can’t appeal to people’s sense of morality, you can seduce them by making morality fashionable.

We each use 290 carrier bags every year. We continue to buy more and more clothes – and why wouldn’t we when a vest top costs less than a latte. Do we ever wonder how so little can be spent on design, manufacture, distribution, packaging and retail? If something is available s so cheaply, who’s really paying. Can the odd Fair Trade T-Shirt make up for our other more extravagant purchases? Every high street store is rolling out their own ethically aware line but is it any attempt to be seen to care and be aware? Can you really carry your conscience in a handbag.

Ecological and Ethical are now fashion’s biggest buzzwords: the hottest thing to have this season is conscience. Sales of fair trade cotton will increase by 50% in 2008. Everyone from H&M and Barney’s is going green. We can easily make planet, and people friendly choices that don’t compromise our style. We’re all socially conscious consumers now. Our desire for fashion has a positive effect in providing jobs for millions of people in the world’s poorest nations.

In February 2008, 29 major designers created one-of-a kind eco looks at Future Fashion Show in New York. Thanks to Earth Pledge (an non-profit organization) and Barney’s idea of having a group of major designers be equipped with a portfolio of innovative fabrics , including banana and pineapple plant materials (from South east Asia) man-made bioplastics (the United States) wood-plup derivatives (Austria) and hemp (China), organic fashion went from granola hugging to haute couture. On a wooden runway made from naturally felled SriLanken trees a crowd of fashion’s biggest names ogled sophisticated looks by the likes of YSL, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein.

The fashion industry, long fearful of being called hypocritical, hasn’t exactly been the first to embrace green design. But with fashion as the second largest industrial consumer of water worldwide and cotton responsible for 25 percent of all chemical pesticide use, designers and fashionistas evrywhere are realizing it’s time to make a change.

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