Photo: Carrie Parry, S/S 2012


By now most of us have heard the term eco-fashion. Perhaps you have heard of its sister terms too: ethical fashion, sustainable, conscious, considered, eco-friendly, ecological… the list actually goes on and on, but we are essentially talking about the same thing. We are talking about fashion that takes into consideration other elements than simply being stylish, which is the leading reason for its existence.

(Photo: Carrie Parry S/S ’12 Collection)

So, you may ask, what are these other considered elements? Well, depending upon who you talk to, and what brand is boasting which eco-credentials, they are going to change. The good news is, once you’e pinned down some of the heavy hitters, you can start to see what really is forming this new movement called Eco-Fashion.

Here are the top ten shapers of eco-fashion:

1. Vegetable or non-chemical dyeing. The brand Prophetik is a great example of a high fashion brand that uses vegetable dyes that are non-toxic to obtain amazing hues for each collection.

2. Organic or pesticide free fabrics. Just like the food we buy, supporting organic fabric production from our favorite brands helps to ensure that our planet’s soil and water isn’t poisoned with pesticides.

3. Fair trade. Fair trade standards ensure that the artisans and farmers who produce the products we consume are repented at a fair price in a global economy.

4. Recycled. Many brands now use recycled fibers to produce their pieces. Most significant is the production of fabric from recycled PET bottles. Reclaimed metal made into new jewelry pieces also falls into this category.

5. Upcycled. Upcylced is a term that is growing in recognition and popularity. It is best explained in an example. Here is a great one: luxury handbag label The Sway NYC uses discarded leather from factories in Italy to produce beautiful leather bags, clutches and jackets.

6. Local production. Many designers are dedicated to local production. It reduces the CO2 emissions of shipping, supports the local economy and allows them to have greater control over the proper production of their line.

7. Zero waste design. More and more designers are developing skills in creating patterns and pieces that utilize the entire cut of fabric and reduce the cuttings and trimmings waste to zero.

8. Socially linked garments. These pieces are linked to a cause. It may be a charity that they benefit, or a women’s cooperative they support during their production, or something created to help raise funds in a disaster relief effort.

9. Vegan. Many designers feel that being friendly to the planet must also extend to being friendly to our fury friends. They provide us with fashion pieces that do not use any animal parts in their production.

10. Water footprint. More recently, brands have begun to pay more attention to their water footprint. Levi’s created a new line of jeans called Water<Less, in which they use a significantly lower level of water to create their jeans.

The truth about eco-fashion is that there are many points of entry. Designers, brands and retailers decide what areas to participate in. You also have that power to decide, and then support the eco-initiatives you believe in, all under the banner of eco-fashion.

So, what are the areas that are most important to you? That is your eco-fashion.