Once upon a time, I was a real fashion fiend. Obsessed with clothes, I hoarded copies of Harper’s Bazaar, continually redressed strangers on the street in my mind, and fretted for hours about what I’d wear to school the next day. I took all of the costume design classes my small, public liberal arts university offered, read fashion designer’s biographies, and even aspired to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and soak up all of the fashionably turned out eye candy the Big Apple has to offer. [image sources clockwise from top left: dawndh, your green review, greenloop, inhabitat, jane goodall]
My preoccupation with fashion was nurtured by my mother. Her closet and it’s accompanying ever-expanding accessory empire is the stuff of legends. She is the sort of woman who has a purse for every occasion, an earring for every fashion whim, and who never met an animal print she didn’t like. In high school, when my fashion cravings really began to kick in, it was her closet I’d regularly raid. I’d curate outfits like I was putting together an installation for the Met. My budget was limited, so mom’s closet was a saving grace. So were thrift and consignment stores. My local Salvation Army store knew my fashion preferences so well, they’d set aside items for me. I wore vintage gowns (REALLY vintage, as in, 1920’s) to my junior and senior proms, both found for bargain-basement deals tucked away in dusty antique stores.
Although I eventually moved into the natural food and lifestyle career path and away from haute couture, I still remain committed to certain aesthetic ideals. Durability and, whenever possible, sustainability now top my list of fashion musts. Fortunately, a number of “green” designers are moving to the fashion forefront, taking to runways on the local, national, and international level. Recent New York , London , and Paris Fashion Weeks presented a number of eco-chic designers,while Portland, Oregon showcased green fashions on a smaller scale.
CLICK HERE for the rest of Ashley’s post on green fashion after the jump!
In my own small, humble southern Appalachian town of Asheville, NC, a number of green fashion designers and businesses can be found. Melissa “Moe” Donnelly of Sew Moe Designs , Alanna Hubbard , and Myah Hubbell design one-of-a-kind frocks out of upcycled garments. Husband-and-wife design team David and Meegan Cuzick of Circles and Squares craft adorable organic garments for all while R. Brooke Priddy of Ship to Shore incorporates natural dyes into her handcrafted pieces, many of them fashioned out of a mixture of vintage and new fabrics. (Brooke is not only a highly skilled seamstress and visionary designer, she’s also a friend, as well as the creator of my wedding dress, which she adeptly dyed an exquisite shade of burgundy to my specifications using natural dyes!). Downtown clothing store Spiritex showcases nationally distributed ecological fashions, many of them made from organically-grown fabrics. If my tiny city offers up this much eco fashion, larger cities are surely swimming in green design.
While purchasing ecologically-minded garments is certainly one small measure you can take towards greening up your closet, shopping at thrift and consignment stores is another. I have found incredible fashions at both locations (most recently, a gorgeous grey wool cowl-neck Benetton sweater), often at very reasonable prices. For those of you in larger cities, I’d highly encourage hitting up consignment stores for fashion steals. Crossroads Trading and Buffalo Exchange are two national chains that I always frequent when visiting San Francisco. I’ve yet to leave there empty-handed and always save a bundle by buying their gently used items instead of purchasing new.
Finally, there’s always simply taking care of the garments you currently own. My friend Katy over at the The Non-Consumer Advocate follows the mantra “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I incorporate that mindset into my wardrobe on a regular basis. Last winter, I hired a friend skilled at sewing to repair some torn and haggard-button items. She’s a new mom with a desire to make extra cash and I’m a busy writer. The arrangement worked well for us both. I have items in my closet that I’ve owned for over 10 years that look just as good today as they did the day I purchased them. If you take good care of your clothes, and purchase well-crafted garments to begin with, they’ll last for years to come.
I still have ideas for a clothing line. These days, though, my fashion aspirations are of the sturdy, chic, and sustainable ilk. I’ve replaced Harper’s Bazaar with Boho and have assembled a wardrobe that represents my well-defined aesthetic preferences, allowing me to get comfortably dressed in a flash. Certainly not everything I own is organic or vintage. I’m not there yet. But being more mindful of the environmental (and humanitarian) impact involved in the production of clothing is one small measure I can work on every time I get the fashion itch.
*I’d love to hear your eco fashion tips. Designers, boutiques, green-savvy dressing ideas-bring it!