Generation S

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When you look at your label inside your favorite clothing item, what does it say to you? Is it pure and natural, is it a collaborative blend, is it manufactured from the minds of man?

More recently I have been intrigued and curious about eco-fashion and more socially conscious fashion initiatives. It is making more and more sense to me that sustainability and "green" consciousness will be (well, should be) the base note for the industry. Think about it: the #1 used product in fashion textiles is, yes, COTTON. It is the base for everything. It fueled an entire nation (USA), enslaved and freed a people (African Americans), caused a war (US Civil War) and continues to be the thread which binds an entire industry and us as these creatures called human beings.

When I look at the label on my clothing favorites, I can say the are definitely made up of a symbiosis of pure, blend, and synthetic. Of course, these clothing favorites also span a considerate time line of my life and my buying (or fashion) style. As of late, I have been really focusing on buying only pure fabrics and distancing myself further from wearing blends. I have grown very accustomed to the rich and soft feel of 100% cashmere or the durability and adaptability of pure cotton. With that, I have also become more and more aware of not only what my clothes are made of, but how they are made. Where has my cashmere and cotton come from? What human (or machine) hands put my clothes together and under what conditions? This is where the combination of green sourcing and sustainability come together.

I went on a search for more information on the subject. I found this definition in an article published here:

"The nonprofit Sustainable Technology Education Project (STEP) defines eco-fashions as clothes “that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry.”
Clothes and accessories that meet such criteria are usually made using organic raw materials, such as cotton grown without pesticides, or re-used materials such as recycled plastic from old soda bottles. Eco-fashions don't involve the use of harmful chemicals and bleaches to color fabrics—and are made by people earning fair wages in healthy working conditions."

It furthered my thinking about eco-fashion, most definitely. Not only is it about the kind of materials used, but also about the whole process. I have a friend who has a manufacturing factory in India and in a number of conversations with them about their "work trips" I have come to find that the factory conditions and the conditions of the workers is the most important and tantemount aspect of the factory. The factory cannot produce and exist holistically if the workers there are not happy, treated fairly, and their work environment is up to (and beyond) standards. My friend makes this the most important part of managing the factory. It becomes a part of the product that comes out of the factory: the quality of the worker's lives/environment shows in the quality of the clothing. My friend believes in the WHOLE process, which cannot be said for many other factories in different parts of the world. And as labor outsourcing becomes more and more necessary for clothing manufacturers, let us all hope that with the awareness of sustainable practices becomes more glaring and important that conditions improve exponentially and that this area of sustainability catches up.
I love the fact that there are Generation S(ustainable) champions out there in the fashion world. People like Summer Raynes, and fashion e-zines and blogs like Ecouterre or EcoFashionWorld, are putting the importance of eco-fashion forward and into our larger fashion world view. Now, I hope and wish that the greater scope of the industry starts to not only take notice but take action to initiate advancement and change throughout it. I know it will take small steps for the big fashion giants to make, but these steps will be important for the future of industry and our world, I believe. I'd love to see Fashion Weeks in the fashion capitals being eco-friendly and eco-conscious, like in Portland or more symposiums and industry conventions like in Geneva, and to think that one day soon, eco-fashion will be a thing in our everyday lexicon and practice. Now that's Good.

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