By Sameera Khurana:
In today’s fast growing realm, not only are we aiming at green products and green architecture, but we have also ventured into the world of sustainable fashion! Now a lot of you might question the very existence of this system. Green fashion? Is that even possible? How can one even manage to fuse high-end couture with green design without compromising on the quality?
Let us time travel to the glorious 1990’s to discover the very roots of this concept. It was then, about in the early nineties that the seeds of sustainable fashion were sown and the idea of creating ‘environmentally friendly fabrics’ emerged. As inevitable as it seems, designers of that time faced the challenging task of educating dubious customers. Despite the entire buzz, the demand for garments under the tags ‘eco fashion’ and ‘green fashion’ had yet to be equated with chic.
You would be extremely surprised to know that the vegan fashion designer, Stella McCartney, managed to win Britain’s Designer of the Year without using even a single patch of leather or fur in her garments, which is practically unheard of in the luxury fashion line. It wasn’t until the spring of 2002, when McCartney managed to sell eco fashion as a serious business proposition. Her strategy was simple— make rock-chick, animal friendly designs that attracted celebrities, hence popularizing the green couture. In a recent interview, the designer said that, “20-30 percent of my collections contain some sort of eco or sustainable element, whether it’s a beautiful organic fabric of a natural dye; and obviously I don’t use animal skins or fur of any kind.”
Soon after, global brands such as Zara and Victoria’s Secret pledged to detox their production practices as well. The words cheap and ethical are often juxtaposed— usually sustainable products come at a high price; however the Swedish brand H&M proved everybody wrong in the beginning of this year. They came up with ‘Conscious Couture’ and have made use of recycled polyester, hemp and organic cotton as a part of their firm commitment towards a more sustainable fashion future.
While I was researching on green fashion, it amused me to find out the kind of stereotypes and pre-conceived notions that exist in the society. Just to reiterate, green fashion is not about wearing leaves or flowers all around your body, and it is certainly not about buying products that are green in colour. The philosophy is beyond these inane misunderstandings, and aims at manufacturing products that are made of natural fibre, cellulose, protein and recycled fibres in order to produce the least possible amount of carbon footprint in its total life span.
Since the beginning of this growing design philosophy, the words ‘pity’ and ‘charity’ have often lingered around green fashion. Ethical clothing cannot be a pity product; in fact, British designer Katherine Hamnett articulates it very well— “You might think people would buy clothes out of pity, but they won’t. People buy clothes because they want to be excited about themselves. So it can’t just be goody-goody clothing; it has to be great clothing that just happens to be goody-goody, too. You’ve got to put the fashion first.” Sustainable fashion is a part of the larger trend of sustainable design— a trend that could last multiple seasons. After all: Green is the new black! Go Green!