Environmentally Friendly Fashion

Photo: Gen Art and Plastics Make It POssible partnered up for the "Fresh Faces in Fashion" show in Los Angeles this October. Photo: Gen Art

Plastic Fashion, So Haute!

Posts by Amanda Wills

Run your hand over it, and it feels similar to your cotton summer scarf. Slip it over your head, and it fits just like that $200 blouse from Donna Karan. Pair it with your favorite go-to jeans, and it makes for the perfect casual outfit. It’s plastic, but you would never know it.

While synthetic fabrics – polyester, nylon and acrylic – are standards in the industry, some designers have found sustainable ways to use the materials. But at this point, we are still sending more than 70 percent of plastic to landfills.

According to FutureFashion, “Fashion uses more water than any industry other than agriculture. At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles.”
 It makes sense to incorporate our everyday plastics into fashion, cutting down on the use of virgin materials.

But recycled fashion doesn’t have to look like a high school art project or an unflattering baby doll dress that resembles a burlap sack, and creating clothing from trash is no longer just a challenge for Project Runway contestants. In fact, September’s New York Fashion Week proved recycled plastics are not only stylish, but they’re actually wearable.

Plastics Gone Vogue

Bodkin designer Eviana Hartman used recycled polyester and organic cottons in her spring 2010 line. Using the streamlined theme of air and water, the breezy, casual collection was filled with mix-and-match separates that could be easily incorporated into any wardrobe.

The collection was voted “Most Wearable” at Fashion Week by Ecouterre. Bodkin is also a recent winner of the Ecco Domani fashion award. The designer uses post-consumer recicling products, vintage fabrics and organic dyes sourced from all over the world.

But plastics didn’t stop in New York. Similar trends are popping up in spring collections in London, Milan and Paris as designers are utilizing pre-consumer waste to create everything from patent-leather shoes to crisp blazers.

“More and more designers are working with plastics as they look at lower impact methods of producing clothing, so I think that [the usage of these materials] will increase,” says Kristen Amato, fashion consultant for Gen Art, a leading arts and entertainment organization dedicated to showcasing emerging fashion designers, filmmakers, musicians and visual artists.

Amato says even some luxury designers – Vivienne Westwood and Alexandre Herchcovitch – have embraced the plastics trend. We can expect to see recycled materials, especially plastics, grow and expand to a variety of collections for fall 2010.

Photo: Gen Art

See It For Yourself

Gen Art partnered with Plastics Make it Possible to present a series of events showcasing the creative use of plastics in fashion design and the ways in which designers are applying them to today’s trends.

“The fabrics that are made with plastics are things we wear every day like voile, a type of cotton that is often used to make button-down shirts and blouses, silk and embroidery and a lot of prints are done with plastic materials.”

Organics Australia Online

Beyond the Runway

Looking towards the future, as climate change and conservation continue to take center stage in both the political and social realms, industry experts expect fashion to push forward with more sustainable, stylish collections.

“From rugged fleece to runway couture, plastics and recycled plastics are the building blocks for stylish and high performing looks throughout the fashion industry,” says Steve Russel, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

“And by recycling more of the plastics we use, we can look good – and feel good – about the choices we make. Remembering to recycle means today’s plastic water bottle can be tomorrow’s little black dress.”

Amato agrees that more designers will pick up on the trend, as pioneers like Stella McCartney and Bodkin have proved you can make a sustainable product both chic and sensible.

“So many strides have been made in creating wearable and beautiful clothing that is made from sustainable materials [...] A number of those designers that pioneered the efforts have been getting recognition which makes it easier for others to follow suit and have success,” Amato says.

“It takes effort but there are designers out there doing it and its catching on more and more.”


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