Thursday, April 15, 2010

Eco Fashion in Europe

by Elizabeth Barthelmes

Kami Organic blouse and skirt, made with organic cotton and low-impact dyes. Kami, formerly operated under LVMH, became independent in 2008 to produce this organics under the design leadership Jérôme L'Huillier, who has worked with labels such as Givenchy, Pierre Balmain, Lapidus and Junko Shimada (KAMI Organic)

In the past decade, a subculture of eco-fashion designers has emerged, who are driven to recreated the standards of the fashion world, but evolving their designs and practices so that they are sustainable. In the current culture of fast fashion and accessible luxury, eco-fashion designers are challenged to work not only upon redefining the industries production processes, but educating the consumer on product’s impacts, as well as maintaining price points, style, and comfort that satisfies their customer’s desires.
These efforts have shaped the development of eco-brands and stores within Paris, and throughout the world, slowly revolutionizing the preexisting mindset and establishing legislation to secure these ethics. While the existing seat of power in the fashion industry is comprised of only a select few, their decisions and impact are global, with its textile manufacturing accounting for “10% of the world’s productive energies”, just behind food (Oakes 1). With the introduction of “eco-labeling”, for clothing generated under specific low-impact criteria, the consumer will be able to more effectively utilize their purchasing power to shift the paradigms of the existing fashion structure. Already eco-fashion is stepping into the mainstream, but it will only establish itself within the coming years through effectively combining and utilizing power, within images and terms through media, the consumer’s choice, government and celebrity endorsement, and of resources of environmental organizations.

Emma Watson’s line from PeopleTree, a progressive UK sustainable and fair-trade fashion brand, demonstrates both Eco-Fashions utilization of celebrity power and the need to explain the concept of eco-fashion to the mainstream consumer.

Eco-Labels certify that the labeled product has followed a specific and environmentally conscious criteria within its material and production. Top: Certification seals of Made-By (UK NGO), and the Global Organic Textile Standard (NGO developed by US, UK, Japan, France). Bottom: H&M organic clothing label and the EU-flower green certification for over 3,000 products (Governments of European Union).

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