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.


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”

Shinola Detroit–or Not

New York Fashion Week has always iconically represented the cutting edge creativity of top designers and young up and comers. Designers who have houses that design primarily for men have been left out of the party. The launching of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, this July, resolved that battle of the sexes.

As I watched and read about the debut, from the sidelines sadly, I planned to write in this blog about the designers who had the most innovative designs. But I was captivated by one interesting bag! Doing a bit of research, I found that it was designed by Shinola from Detroit, one of the events sponsors.   So….I stepped off the runway to check them out.

First, I was really intrigued because the company’s mission statement states that they are resurrecting the idea of American manufacturing in Detroit.   I am a huge fan of  Bellucci and Gucci, but I have to support the home team.   After doing a bit of research,  perhaps their statement should have been assembled in Detroit, rather than made in Detroit.

Looking at their website, I was impressed by the achievements accomplished by a company that was a start up in 2012.  From bicycles and dog accessories to watches and high end leather goods, the company seemed to be leaking creativity in every direction. Continue reading “Shinola Detroit–or Not”