Eco-friendly fashion: this term has long struck a chord of terror in the hearts of many fashionistas. But fear not! Wearing environmentally sound apparel is no longer just suited for those living on a commune. In the recent years, eco-friendly fashion has become increasingly popular -- and stylish, to boot.
The common conception of eco-friendly fashion as being a hippie-centric -- and, well, unfashionable -- niche actually isn't all that misguided... it's just outdated. "When eco fashion began, it was really mostly about organic cotton tees and hemp socks," says Carrie Pollare, editor of White Apricot, a fashion, beauty and lifestyle website and newsletter for the eco- and socially-conscious.
Taking care of the earth
Socially-conscious apparel manufacturing has long been on the mainstream radar, particularly regarding sweatshop labor issues. The movement received a huge boost in prominence with the breakout popularity of American Apparel in the last few years. Lately, however, attention is expanding from treating workers ethically to treating our planet ethically as well.
Simply put, eco-friendly fashion is apparel that is not harmful to the planet to produce. "Our definition of eco-friendly is clothing that is grown, processed, and used as consciously as possible," says Edie Marrs, CEO of Geo Mio, LLC, which owns the green apparel brands geomio and minawear. This involves not just a consideration of the materials used, she explains, but also things such as fabric scraps, garment lifespan, and packaging.
Stylin' and green
And doing good for the environment has never looked so good. While basic staple pieces are certainly a cornerstone of the green clothing industry, trendy eco-friendly apparel has become increasingly prevalent.
Pollare cites high fashion lines by Deborah Lindquist and Linda Loudermilk and budding lines Perfectly Imperfect, Sublet, Bahar Shaphar, Beau Soleil and Lara Miller as standouts. Candice Caldwell, founder of the online shopping destination Fashion Ethic, lists clothing from Lizzie Parker, Peligrosa Knits and Emily Katz among her personal favorites.
The prevalence of eco-friendly clothing isn't just increasing due to the influx of these green designers; preexisting apparel companies are beginning to take measures to be more environmentally sound. "The corporate brands are starting to focus more attention on adding organic and natural fibers to their lines," says Marrs.
Beyond the label
As eco-friendly fashion becomes increasingly popular, the term may become obsolete. "As customers learn more, they demand more, and I think soon eco fashion will just be fashion," says Caldwell. "It's that moment when you'll think "of course it's eco-friendly" that isn't too far off."