By Chere Di Boscio
Tiny and elegant Japanese designer Masako Oka once visited a dump site, because she wondered what happens to discarded clothes. Not the ones we give away to friends or the poor or to Oxfam, but those that really go into the rubbish.
What she saw appalled her: a mountain of rotting rags; a representation of a consumer society obsessed with passing fashion trends. So, in 2003, she created a line of clothing called Ecomako, for girls and women.
Ecomako is characterised by featherlight fabrics sewn into one-size-fits-all forms that can easily be layered to create new looks. The range is mainly made from a unique textile–Polylactic Acid fibre (PLA).
Derived from the fibres of inedible corn, sugar cane, silk, cotton, bamboo, and recycled Japanese paper, PLA is completely biodegradable, and what’s more, it’s dyed using traditional Japanese methods that employ pigments extracted from grapes and roses, amongst other plants.
The finish the fibre gives is one that is never perfectly smooth, lending a lived-in charm to the texture of Ecomako’s main looks.
Their delicacy, convenience (they are easy to pack and never need ironing), versatility and gentleness on the skin has led the garments to be a huge hit not only with Japanese women, but with women from all over the Far East. Masako has had runway shows in Korea, China and of course, Japan, where she is considered to be a pioneer in a growing eco-fashion market.
With her sheer, feminine fabrics and trademark style, it seems almost certain that she’ll conquer the West next, adding eco fashion to a long list of much-coveted Japanese imports.