Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coclico Footwear Spring/Summer 2012: Building A Sustainable Vision One Step At A Time

Coclico SS 2012 featured in the Kaelen presentation
 during NY fashion week (photo by Jeannine Tan)

After ten days on the 'ghost free' vegan challenge, I have had a lot of time to think about the inner workings and cogs of the fashion system. One thing is for sure, my diet will certainly be far more vegan than it has in the past, now that I have experienced how good one can feel eating a diet of plant-based foods. I still grapple, though, with the use of leather in fashion accessories (at least by sustainable fashion definitions), as so many small businesses in Europe are dependent upon the craftsmanship of local leather goods production. Of course, I am an advocate for vegan shoes, bags, and jewelry designs (as well as some of the great names behind this movement), but I also know how wedded communities and cultures are to leather production methods. I support the evolution of ethical fashion, but I also support cultural diversity and the expression of artisan traditions. How to reconcile these differences?

Coclico SS 2012 heels with organic linen 
(photo courtesy of ORGANIC Girly)

Coclico is a footwear design company that is grappling with this issue on a day-to-day and long-term basis. Jennifer Barckley at ORGANIC Girly, tackled this topic very thoughtfully in her recent write up after a visit to Coclico's Nolita boutique for a preview of their Spring/Summer 2012 collection. As a vegan, ORGANIC Girly does a great job of building a bridge between the gray areas, if they are really any shadow zones remaining.

Coclico SS 2012 sculpturally stylish, handcrafted heels

Barckley's 'Timeless Is Worth The Wait' sums up many of the variables that this luxe footwear company is contending with as a small label that wants to improve upon its ethical sourcing, manufacturing, and community outreach efforts. The key thing for me in the select purchases that I make is just how transparent a company is willing to be in its disclosure about materials and methods. Coclico is a company that I feel quite good about on this front.

That said, this recent article via Cri de Coeur about leather tanneries being some of the most toxic places on earth is enough to stop one dead in one's tracks – quite literally. Chromium pollution is just bad news. It seems to me that ongoing definitions of ethical style can no longer afford to be just about sustainable materials, fair labor, and life cycle innovation – to name a few, but also increasingly about what one's belief system is when it comes to ideas about 'fashioning self in relation to the environment'. In the same way that we make assessments about political and social events, might it be too extreme to expect that our personal style might now allow others to decode us in terms of where we draw the line?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post Abigail! The idea of aligning beliefs with style is an important question to consider during the holiday season as well as year-round. You certainly offer some tempting options in the form of Coclico's collection. Nicely done!