We hear it every day now, in the midst of the harsh economic times: “Buy this affordable garment! It’s cheap, so you don’t have to feel bad when you put it in your shopping bag! It’s inexpensive! Don’t worry, because it’s GUILT-FREE FASHION!”
I guess the frustration I have with this marketing strategy for fast fashion relates to what the meaning of guilt actually is. Who defines what “guilt-free” should be, and why does guilt have to correspond with dollars and cents? What about moral or ethical guilt? Which should outweigh the other when fashion is involved?
Should the producer be considered in the guilt-free shopping formula, or is it solely the consumer’s wellbeing and financial conscience that matter?
As author of Sustainable Fashion and TextilesKate Fletcher puts it, “Fast isn’t free – someone, somewhere is paying.” And most likely, in these situations, the environment is paying its damaging fees as well. It seems that a fundamental disconnect has developed between the producers of beautiful garments, and our awareness as consumers.
October is FAIR TRADE MONTH, a time to celebrate our fabulous farmers and growers and producers, whether they are cultivating, sewing, weaving, or crafting somewhere around the world, or in our own necks of the woods.
For me, Fair Trade and ethical fashion are ways to reduce the “guilty” impact of my garment purchases. In honor of FAIR TRADE MONTH, let's remember the impact Fair Trade and Ethical Business can have on fellow friends and eclectic environments around the globe, and utilize our purchasing power as consumers to redefine “guilt-free fashion”.
If you are interested in learning more about FAIR TRADE and/or ETHICAL FASHION and their meanings, check out Global Action Through Fashion's Research Guide, which also outlines a listing of ethical brands and designers available in today's market.
I cannot deny that I currently have a fascination with what one might refer to as the 'other' fashion weeks. Athens, Madrid, Ukraine, Sofia, and a string of locales globally have the potential to create an exotic alternative to the standard fashion week calendars and designer collection offerings.
Criticism abounds, though, claiming that many of these shows are completely amateurish and in some cases blatant rip-offs of designers from the west. Fashion writers also get irritated with the air-kissing local celebrities who seem desperate to have an occasion to come out like peacocks in all of their finery for the paparazzi.
All I have to say on this front is that the support of local enterprises and regional fashion weeks provides visibility for young designers who may still be seeking entrance to shows in London, Paris, New York, etc. The diversity of fashion is, in well-managed cases, better highlighted in some of these smaller shows where sponsors value the local flavor and lexicon of the designs. Who are we to ask them to adopt the format of the more 'cosmopolitan' fashion week venues? This attitude breeds homogenized style and globalization of the worst kind. Not everyone aspires to wear Gap skinny jeans, J.Crew cardigans, nor adopt a grunge attitude. The sooner we cut the 'others' some slack, perhaps they will stop imitating mainstream designer labels due to pressure from the cool 'in' crowd.
These Naya 'Briar' eco-friendly, lace-up pumps are really like no other design I have seen for Fall 2010. With luxe autumn hues and curvy feminine detailing, I really think that these are the perfect injection to any green-it-girl's wardrobe. Part of Naya's 'Tailored Temptation' design offerings, classic pumps like these only get softer with wear.
Naya has made a commitment to using eco-friendly materials whenever possible. This includes vegetable tanned leathers, natural or recycled content fabrics, footbeds containing cork, outsoles containing natural materials, recycled packaging designs, and even shoe forms made from recycled PET. I am rather smitten with all of these designs, but isn't it good to know that you can lust after something that is oh, so good for you, too? Great art direction on these beautiful photos as well - for both green thumbs and toes.
The Greek border is less than three hours away from my home here in Sofia, so I am quite tempted to scoot south to see 'Beyond Dress Codes' before it closes in Athens on 27 October. Currently on view at theHellenic American Union Galleries, this stunner of an exhibit features impressive talent like Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, and contemporary Greek fashion designers, including my favorite duo, Mastori*Motwary Studio.
For those lucky enough to be enjoying autumn in New England this weekend, there will be a Fiber Fest at Shift Boutique in Hyannis, MA on Saturday, October 16 from 11am to 3pm. Hand-weaver Kelly Knight and knitter extraordinaire, Elly DuFault, will be on-site sharing their artisan designs with demos of their unique techniques with fiber. Do not miss this great opportunity to learn more about Kelly's finely woven bamboo scarves and Elly D.'s organic yarn woolens, including the 'Pick Up Stitch' knit chains she recently created for Feral Childe.
One of the regrets I have about already being settled in Eastern Europe for autumn is my not having visited the new showroom of LOUP CHARMANT in Red Hook, Brooklyn, before my departure from NYC. These luminous and completely timeless organic cotton essentials could basically be a women's essential wardrobe for anywhere that she might travel on the planet.
I wear my scoop tank all of the time in Sofia, either as a base layer that is super soft against my skin, or as a summery tank on hot and breezy nights. Kee Edwards of LOUP CHARMANT basically has sustainable style totally pinned down with these feminine, though highly functional, trans-seasonal pieces.
And it is not every day that a designer can also model her designs with total expression of how the collection is meant to be lived in and celebrated. It's sheer sexy goodness, wouldn't you say?
Congratulations to Dr. Christina Dean and her industrious team at the Hong Kong based charity, Green2greener, for yet another brilliant installment of EcoChic Fashions runway events. EcoChic Asia took place in Hong Kong yesterday, and the line up of ready-to-wear and couture designers from all pockets of Asia was impressive.
"For EcoChic Asia, Green2greener is delighted to collaborate with Interstoff Asia Essential, one of the world's leading global textile trade fairs. In addition, EcoChic Asia will take place during the 26thIAF World Apparel Convention, which will be attended by key executives and entrepreneurs from the global apparel industry. This is an unprecedented event demonstrating Asia's contribution to the development of sustainable fashion." ~ Green2greener
You might recall this uber-chic dress created by Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard of Eko-Lab at The GreenShows' opening night celebration. Crafted from a thrift shop shirt rescued from the depths of a Bushwick clothing bin, it is a great testament to the power of transformation and creative-couture resourcefulness.
You can now vote for XZ's fashion upcycling project on Project Runway's Remake Challenge featured on the popular sewing site, BurdaStyle. Winning this project will allow XZ and her partner, Melissa Kirgan of Eko-Lab, to acquire an industrial iron and steamer for their eco-conscious design lab on the Lower East Side in NYC.
Vote via this link and share the spirit of yesterday's cast-offs becoming tomorrow's eco-style essentials.
* all images courtesy of Abigail Doan and Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard of Eko-Lab