By Christina Weston
When we think of pollution, we typically conjure up bleak images of billowing power plants, toxic oil spills and gigantic landfills overflowing with harmful waste. It can be hard to reconcile the same level of damage with our favorite items of clothing, but in reality, the fashion industry is hot on the heels of the oil trade when it comes to environmental damage. From the excessive amount of water and chemicals needed to cultivate cotton plants, to the toxic dyes used in garment manufacturing (not to mention the impact of fast fashion) the clothing industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to protecting our planet.
Luckily, eco-fashion projects are more popular than ever. The Slow Clothing Project, for example, will run from February to November of this year, focusing on natural fibres and textile recycling whilst highlighting the consequences of so-called fast fashion. Each week, a locally handmade garment will be produced, with the final collection of forty items being publicly showcased in November and eventually sold in support of a charitable cause.
Of course, in addition to such inspiring projects, increasing numbers of designers are beginning to realise the importance of creating greener garments. Today, from shoes and trousers to tops and glasses, there are plenty of chic options that can give you great sustainable style from head to toe. This sustainability can be achieved in many ways: new materials like bioplastics and Pinatex can be used; zero waste and 3D design techniques can be employed; energy-saving devices can be fitted into factories, and vegan leather can replace cow skin.
Here, we’ve picked some clothing and accessories that illustrate how easy it is to get sustainable style from head to toe. Now there’s really no excuse not to make a greener fashion choice, no matter what you’re wearing!
Head: Eco-friendly Eyewear by Charmant USA
Whether you need to wear glasses or choose them to make a fashion statement, there’s no reason your frames can’t be eco-friendly! Designed by Yosuke Shimano and launched in January 2016, Charmant’s awear line is both incredibly style-conscious and remarkably eco-friendly. Marketed as a mindful eyewear brand that “envisions making the world a better place,” awear frames are made from bio-based plastic which absorbs carbon dioxide, as well as a manufacturing process which focuses wholeheartedly on reducing energy consumption and conserving water. Firmly proving that style and sustainability are one and the same, awear glasses are not only chic, fun and colorful, but also ergonomically designed for maximum comfort.
Tops: Natural Cashmere Jumpers by Peter Hahn
As more designers and fashion houses strive to adopt more ethical practices, we as consumers also carry significant responsibility. Instead of giving in to budget-friendly, disposable fashion, we can nurture sustainability by investing in quality pieces that will last from season to season, like the beautiful cashmere jumpers created by Peter Hahn. Equally, the history of our garments should play a deciding role: where do they come from? Does this brand invest in safe and fair working conditions? By making informed decisions and spending our money wisely, consumers and designers alike can define sustainable, eco-friendly fashion as the rule rather than the exception.
Bottoms: Green Denim by Joe’s Jeans
One of the most energy consuming pieces of clothing is also one of the most common: jeans. Denim takes shocking amounts of water to produce for two reasons: one, its base, cotton, is a very thirsty plant! Two, using indigo dyes to create blue jeans means gallons upon gallons of water must be used in the colouring process. What’s worse, the toxic dyes are often then ‘rinsed’ right into natural rivers and streams, eventually ending up polluting the oceans and drinking water, too.
Joe’s Jeans is one brand that understands the importance of sustainability and works to create denim that uses 60% less water and 30% less energy than normal denim brands use – and they have a huge variety of on-trend jean cuts to choose from.
Toes: Forward-thinking Footwear by Veja
At first glance, Veja sneakers appear no different from their stylish counterparts in the contemporary shoe market. What sets this fashionable footwear brand apart, however, is that they are made entirely from sustainable, responsibly sourced materials in collaboration with small family farms and fair trade businesses. This includes a non-damaging rubber tapping process which is crucial to the survival of the Amazonian rainforest. Founded by Sébastien Kopp and Francois Ghislain Morillion, this Paris-based project was inspired by a popular rubber and canvas volleyball shoe that the pair came across whilst traveling in Brazil, and the footwear is a true pioneer in the field of sustainable yet beautiful fashion.