Afingo’s Behind The Seams Panel

In November 2010, Afingo invited me to moderate a panel on sustainable fashion. Here’s the condensed version of the video. If you have the time, check out the full video here.

From the schedule:

Eco-friendly fashion specialists will discuss whether “going green” is just another trend or a necessary, fundamental shift in how the industry works, as well as how to make the change at a level that is more than skin-deep.
• Susanna Schick, Founder of Sustainable Fashion LA (Moderator)
• Raissa Gerona, Designer, Brigid Catiis
• Dale Denkensohn, Founder & President, econscious
• Jason Kibbey, CEO & Founder, PACT
• M.J. Prest, Editor-in-Chief & Founder, EthicalStyle.com
• Anna Griffin, Editor-in-Chief & Founder, Coco Eco Magazine

 

Eco-Fashion: Going Green The Museum at FIT through November 13

 This exhibit is free of charge and housed in the museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the country’s leading fashion schools. What most impressed me about the collection is that it did not begin with eco-fashion, but with a brief history of fashion from the 1800′s. The exhibit included a key which identifies the six major areas of impact, and each piece had symbols identifying the biggest issues around its manufacture.

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Global Green and What Makes an Oscar Gown Green?

 

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Hickman
 At the Global Green Pre-Oscar party last week, Suzy Amis Cameron’s eco Oscar gown was unveiled. It was lovely, but there was no mention of what made this gown more sustainable than most, other than it was colored “Na’vi blue”.

This sort of vagueness is how people can easily be accused of greenwashing.  Even the interview with the designer did not include this pertinent information, only her discussing the challenge of creating an eco gown. Yes, it’s a little harder, but when price is not an issue it’s no harder than designing any other couture-quality gown.

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What’s an Eco Designer to Do about Bamboo?

Having read a lot of recent coverage of the FTC’s August 2009 ruling about bamboo, I wonder what will become of brands whose staple fabric is “bamboo”? The problem is, most of these designers and the textile sales reps they buy from, were sold rayon fabric labeled as bamboo.

Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber based on wood pulp. Sure, some of that wood pulp could be bamboo, but try getting a Chinese textile mill to tell you what they’re actually putting into the mix, as opposed to what they know you want them to tell you is in there.

While Viscose Rayon (known simply as Rayon in the US) is a wonderfully breathable fiber with great texture, strength, and drape-ability, it does require a lot of nasty chemicals to turn that wood pulp, bamboo or otherwise, into soft textile products. In Delia Montgomery’s recent article on the subject, one of the comments mentions the impact of cotton, complaining that cotton has a more negative net impact than bamboo.

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Photo of Bamboo Dress by Anna Ostrovskaya, Courtesy Reuters Oddly Enough

Recycled Underwear? PACT Doesn’t Recommend It.

Earlier this week I spoke with Jason and Jeff, co-founders of PACT, the most socially and environmentally responsible underwear company on earth, as far as I know. Not only do they use organic cotton, GOTS compliant dyes and otherwise uber-responsible manufacturing, they also donate 10% of sales to charities. This is utterly astounding in an industry where even a 10% profit margin is a miracle. But then, most apparel companies weren’t founded by Haas MBA’s.

Cradle To Cradle For Everything?

Jason and I got to talking about Cradle to Cradle, as it’s an interesting topic, and well, they’re already doing everything else, why not take it a step further? Do I hear a protest? You don’t want someone’s underwear recycled into your t-shirt? But it’s for the cause, man… OK, jokes aside, and even if it wasn’t underwear being discussed, but some other form-fitting cotton garment, Jason did the research. Because he cares that much. The thing is, 100% cotton gets baggy and saggy. So it’s more likely to be thrown out soon. If it happens to be owned by someone who’s passionate enough to find a place to deliver their used cotton underwear, it can be recycled. Jason explained that less than 1% of all cotton is currently recycled, and Jeff pointed out that even pure cotton sometimes contains dyes and chemicals that make it impossible to recycle.

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