Eco Fashion

The growth of eco fashion
Oscar Wilde, ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’

The fashion cycle rate of consumption is adversely impacting on the environment in each of its production stages from the cultivation of raw fabric to shipment of finished garment. Eco Fashion formally not widely known by mass market is now becoming more accessible by the work of environmentally conscious designers who use, produce and/or promote sustainable and ethical products.  Gone are the connotations of free love, hemp and earth colourings replaced by the respect for people plus planet plus profit in equal measurements.

The timeline of eco fashion.

Eco fashion can be traced back to the 1950s when the social elite wore couture and others who couldn’t afford to buy would follow the trend by making their own clothes. There was a great emphasis on investment purchases of high quality, long lasting goods they were eco friendly without being aware by their slow rate of consumption.
The natural looks that emerged in the 1960s can be linked to the hippies there was a trend for the re-working of vintage clothing into new garments which embraced creativity and individuality therefore rejecting the dehumanising effects of mass production and consumerism.

The 80s and 90s was a time when truly the effects of mass produced goods became common knowledge in the form of sweatshops catching worldwide attention, which encouraged the public to become more aware of what they’re buying into. Katherine Hamnett was one of the leaders in eco fashion became well known by her 1989 ‘Clean up or die’ Autumn Winter collection in which she used organic cotton on slogan t-shirts. Moschino in 1989 used his reputability as a form of expression by models wearing slogan t-shirts such as ‘stop using our waters as a W.C’ on the runway.
The work of Martin Margiela in the 1990s was that of upside down dysfunctional beauty by his re-working of existing garments by first deconstructing them then reconstructing into new forms, for example jacket made from multiple silk scarves. His ecological approach became known for its avant-garde qualities his garments were viewed as works of art which don’t follow passing fashion trend but instead encourage investment on high quality goods.

The twenty first century saw the introduction of green as the new black as legendary fashion journalist Suzy Menkes said in 2006. The same year ‘Esthetica’ by the British Fashion Council was established to showcase cutting edge designer’s committed to working eco sustainably.
Esthetica S/S 2012 London Fashion Week, Henrietta Ludgate one of the designers was one of my favourites by her use of structured colourful designs. As well as Victim Fashion Street her use of reclaimed materials in reconstruction of garments is skilfully done by mix of print.

In proof that the notion of eco fashion had become well received by mass market came in 2007 when designer Anya Hindmarch released the bag with slogan ‘I’m not a plastic bag’ on and was snapped on arms of many a celebrity and in doing so became the bag of the moment with stocks selling out. Eco fashion is now seen as eco cool.
Now to the science that is needed to inform the continual progress of environmentally conscious garments is still in development some possible new techniques consist of biodegradable clothing which is growing clothes out of biomaterial the bacteri al-cellulose is spun and made into material fibre, literally means the possibility of growing a dress out of science beaker so no resources would be depleted.

Designers Andrew Sneider and Diffus designs have managed to incorporate energy production into garment process by creating a solar bikini and solar panelled hand bag retrospectively. They produce enough energy to charge mobile phone and can act as energy capacitors; we will be our very own walking energy producer.
Another concept to reduce energy usage is being researched into the production of a fabric that has a coating made from compound of titanium dioxide which acts as very own washing machine so reducing energy usage as well as water usage. This compound would have capability of breaking down dirt molecules while killing microbes by being activated by UV rays.

To reduce the amount of fabric waste a concept has been developed which utilises a loom attached to computer that weaves made to fit garment sections which can then be sewn together by hand, therefore no fabric waste so saving on raw material.

Ultimately all these innovations in fabric development are concepts at the moment and to promote eco fashion is down to the consumer as consumers drive fashion by their demands. The appeal of slow fashion which is less driven by current trends but dictated by style and high quality garments is the promotion of an ecologically friendly fashion movement.