Monday 8 October 2012

Sustainable Luxury

One question raised after the green fashion sector's sterling showing at both London and New York Fashion Weeks was: can eco and high-end fashion really sit comfortably together? Isn't there a mismatch between the market, the ethics and the ethos?
This shows a fundamental misread of green fashion, that assumes that the clothes are still knitted out of jute by tiny communes and sold exclusively through stalls at achingly worthy London markets. The truth is a lot simpler and a lot less insulting to everyone concerned.
Green, eco and sustainable fashion takes its mission statement from the idea of respect. For the planet, in terms of the way that the fabric is produced, and how that material is manufactured into clothing. For the people who grow the crops, weave the fibres, and make the clothes. In order to show this respect, the green sector makes sure that cost-cutting measures do not include the dumping of toxic chemical byproducts into local water tables, or the exploitation of their workforce.
No-one considers high-end producers like the suit-makers of Saville Row to provide anything but luxury goods. Yet these clothes are produced from sustainable materials by workers who are highly skilled, and valued and paid accordingly. This ethos is at the heart of green and sustainable fashion, and I'm bewildered that anyone would think otherwise. Long-Time Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood has often stated that the best way to green up your wardrobe is to buy fewer, but better-quality and therefore longer-lasting clothes. It's cheap fashion that's the problem, not the sort of heirloom item that will cost more initially, but become a mainstay in your fashion arsenal for years to come.
In other words, we need to see more successes like the big noises made by eco-fashionistas at London and New York, to really show a sceptical public that high-end ethical fashion isn't just this year's fad. It's the future.

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