Hemp and Bamboo Gain Popularity as Green Fabrics

With concern over global warming, deforestation, and water and air pollution, consumers are becoming more aware of the impact on the environment of the products that they consume.  Synthetic fabrics,  such as polyester and acrylic are created from petroleum.  Oil wells, offshore oil rigs and ships that transport oil are infamous for drenching pristine shorelines with oil.

Cotton, the second most popular fabric  requires 25% of the insecticides used in the world.  Ten percent of the pesticides used in the world are used to protect the cotton plants.  Those toxic chemicals become part of the soil.  Through the water cycle, they spread becoming part of the food we eat and the air we breathe.  According to the Environmental Agency, EPA, seven of the fifteen chemicals used to grow cotton are possibly, likely, or known to cause cancer.

Two popular alternatives to these fabrics are bamboo and hemp.  Bamboo fibers are used to create a silk like cashmere fabric as well as more casual fabrics.  Bamboo absorbs and evaporates moisture as they have micro pores and micro gaps that allows the fabric to breathe. Its unique anti-bacterial agent naturally prevents body odor and sweat.  Natural UV protection and anti-static properties would make bamboo a smart fabric choice.  Bamboo is actually a grass and is considered one of the fastest growing plants.  It replenishes the soil and produces more than 35% more oxygen than trees.  They do not consume much water, so they can be grown in a variety of locations. (This is not the bamboo eaten by pandas.)  The fabrics are produced in China, so it is important to make sure that the company you purchase your clothing from guarantees that they use manufacturers with fair labor practices.  The Natural Clothing Company is one of the companies that produce every day clothing that ensures they were produced with green and fair practices.  Some others are TASC performance clothes and Bambooki. Continue reading “Hemp and Bamboo Gain Popularity as Green Fabrics”

Rick Owens’ Minimalism Spring 2016

Between that showing and New York Fashion Week:  Men's, a new Rick Owens has appeared. As he emerged from his limo the night of the show, reporters remarked on his earlier Paris collection. However, his 2015 New York collection is markedly different.  Reining in from the excessive draping of the drooping pants and wrapped upper bodies of last years runway show, he has created a collection that may prove to be more timeless.  Although the designs are just as unique, the emphasis on fine leathers, worked fabrics and  inspired draping, the fashions are eye-catching and still wearable.

Then one of the most surprising and tribal designers of our time, Rick Owens  became a bit infamous for his 2015/2016 spring runway show in Runway Paris.  The garments were strategically designed to show the models private areas.  Some garments covered everything else on the models, accenting the keyhole construction.

Owens seems to have focused his energies on transforming fabrics and leathers with coloring and texturing techniques which really brought his looks together.

When asked about his personal style, he stated that he strives to give everything a worn, soft feeling like Lou Reed's music. ("Take a Walk on the Wild Side" 1972)

Owen's 2016 spring collection seems to have a Japanese influence.  The thigh length leather or heavy fabric coats over long black leather or fabric shirts cover loose asymmetrical shorts.  The term shorts doesn't seem to match the rich leather "short pants." (Owens may spawn a new fashion vocabulary to describe his innovative designs. )  The look is reminiscent of the samurai, echoed by the hair style of some of his models.  Their hair/wigs were pulled forward covering their faces and jutting forward--looking like a samurai helmet.

His fabrics were layered, textured, dyed and bleached in a black and cream collection.  Comfortable sheaths look sumptuous as the supple leather countered the harsher architectural design.  If I were a man, I would definitely want to invest in his garments.  They look wearable, fashion daring and comfortable.

The long leather jackets layered over thigh length leather shirts work without looking heavy because of the immaculate and pristine construction.

Although the first half of his collection is predominately black on black, for men prefer a less monochromatic  palette, the second half of his collection pairs cream leather jackets, leather and tulle shirts with black shorts and lighter black jackets.  In the cream jackets the attention to detail was more evident.  Every element seemed carefully planned.

I did not expect to see such an amazing collection for Owens.  While he has always been talented and refreshing, these looks could turn out to be visionary.


Christian Seriano

When I think of Christian Siriano, I think “fierce” and “fabulous.” I have been a Project Runway fanatic since the first episode, but no one before or since has had the impact of Christian Siriano. Although he is the youngest designer to participate in Project Runway, he had more experience than most of the designers who have auditioned. Many of the designers had their own lines and had dedicated clients, but Christian had been designing since he was 13 years old when he , as he worked for a local salon where he created costumes for the annual hair show competition.

He was educated at Baltimore School for the Arts, a real life example of “Fame.” There he learned shape and proportion. When he graduated, he attended the American Intercontinental University in London. When he showed a small collection on 2005’s London Fall Fashion Week, he caught the attention of Vivienne Westwood, a punk designer, and also worked with Alexander McQueen. In 2007, Siriano was a the youngest contestant on Bravo Project Runway. He was a fan favorite with his confident “fierce” personality. After presenting at New York Fashion Week, Siriano won both Project Runway and Fan Favorite. He began working with Victoria Beckham, who had asked him to design an outfit for her. He has also appeared in more shows including his own Bravo special called Christian Siriano: Having a Moment, which followed him as he prepared his collection for Fashion Week. He also hosted the Project Runway for young people called Project Runway:Threads, where teen and preteen designers showcase their creations and compete for a $10,000 prize.

Christian shows a full collection every season at New York Fashion Week, with past shows being sponsored by LG, Sprint, Victoria”s Secret, Cibu International, and Aveda. He has designed for many celebrity clients, most notably Rihanna, Heidi Klum, Victoria Beckham, Lady GaGa, Vanessa Williams, Christina Hendricks, Pink, Estelle, Mena Suvari, Kelly Rowland, Becki Newton, Kat DeLuna, and Whoopi Goldberg in her role as host of the 2008 Tony Awards. He has signed on to design a full couture collection to appear in the upcoming film Eloise in Paris, starring Uma Thurman. Alexis Bledel, dressed in Christian’s designs, was named to Vogue”s Ten Best Dressed list in September 2009. Oprah Winfrey calls his designs works of art. Tim Gunn calls him a prodigy and the next great American fashion designer.

Christian’s current projects include joining the likes of Isabel Toledo, Alice + Olivia, and Patricia Field in creating an ongoing line of shoes and bags for Payless which first became available in September 2009. He also created a line of makeup for Victoria”s Secret for stores in the fall of 2009, a limited edition design collaboration for Starbucks for the 2009 holiday season, and a collaboration last year with Puma. Between his design projects, Christian has also written a style guide titled Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self, available now, and he embarked on a book tour in the fall of 2009.

Project Runway winners have historically had a difficult time meeting the expectations of greatness in the actual industry due to the huge time demands and continued financial investment. Christian’s early training in not only design, but also the pulse of the fashion and garment industry, may have helped him create his brand. Whatever, the reason, he has made an indelible impact on the future of fashion and his will undoubtedly be one of those names always associated with couture fashion, such as Channel, Kors, and Lauren.

Conscientious Consumer Replaces Fashion Sustainability

Fashion at its best not only reflects society, it elevates it.  Over the past 10 years, innovative designers have woven social responsibility, sustainabiliy and design.  Toms is an example of a successful campaign.  Starting in his garage, Blake Mycoskie launched his casual unique shoe design with the concept of one for one. For every pair of Toms sold, Mycoskie donated a pair to third world countries.  This highly successful marketing strategy, became the poster child of social consciousness.  However, according to a recent poll mainstream fashion forward consumers are more interested in high quality garments than environmentally green garments created in ethical work environments summed up in the word “sustainable” fashion.  Only 26% said they made their choices based on the sustainability of the garments. 

The word “sustainable” has come to represent casual, or unfashionable to consumers who link it with the idea of grunge or simplistic designs.  Companies are emerging that bring together an eclectic assortment of designers who focus on sustainability, but in contrast to the expected earth muffin, organic expectation (which I actually like) they focus on bringing fresh style with immaculate tailoring and a high quality vibe.

The word sustainability has been replaced by “conscientious consumer” who is portrayed as “fighting the fast-fashion craze” like fast food versus a foodie.  They are trying to meld the concept of sustainability with the ideal of style and quality fabrics. Some of the companies at the forefront of the movement are Positive Luxury, ZADY’s, Warby Parker and Master’s Muse.

Positive Luxury is a London company whose membership awards brands and companies that are working toward social and environmental responsibility.  Master and Muse’s website and I agree that fashion helps shape our culture.  Their website implies, but does not supply details, that the company focuses on acquiring clothing and collections that have been made in an environment that does not take advantage of unethical labor practices.  The clothes are also suppose to be environmentally friendly.

Marrying more cutting edge couture and higher quality ready to wear with ethical, environmentally friendly fabrics will benefit the consumers, the community and what has become our global neighborhood.  (see I didn’t say sustainable)

Sustainable Fashions from Africa and their Designers

Companies with a conscious are always rare, but appreciated. With disturbing news about the conditions in third world countries where workers earn excessively low wages, it is refreshing to learn about companies that celebrate the heritage of their country and ensure that workers are compensated for their labor.

One of the few clothing lines that originate in South Africa,  466/64 takes its inspiration from Nelson Mandela, 94 years old, the civil rights leader who was imprisoned for 27 years before his release.  When the end of apartheid brought political and social instability, he was elected the first black president where he worked hard to bring a sense of equality to all South Africans.  The name of the company reflect the number he was assigned in prison.  466/64 is pronounced “four, double six, six four.”

The company wants to spread Mandela’s message of social “upliftment”.  The market is to young people to encourage them to work for social change and improvement.  The line is designed in South Africa and 60% of the line is produced in South Africa as well.  A portion of the proceeds go to charities that Mandela supports, such as building libraries in impoverished schools and supporting the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Hospital.

Christie Brown, a designer based in Ghana created bold fashions using crisp white and deep colors to produce stunning, unforgettable prints that have movement and energy.  Both her men’s and  women’s wear lines have styles are well-crafted and comfortable.  She uses the wax print fabrics that are traditional in her country. Continue reading “Sustainable Fashions from Africa and their Designers”