BY LORA MAGHANOY, FW Editor
Let’s face it: it was almost inevitable. No matter how we look at it, going green has become the hottest lifestyle choice. It seems that nowadays, we are consistently bombarded with encouraging words to take the ‘green plunge’ and with so
many different options to choose from, how can one resist? While it pains me to deem the movement as “trendy,” it’s near impossible to deny that becoming eco-friendly has never been more in style.
While many industries have gone out of their way to provide earth friendly alternatives, I often wonder if the fashion industry has made enough of an effort to reduce their ecological footprint.
While there are clearly the front runners in eco-conscious design (Stella McCartney, anyone?), is it enough to help redeem the industry’s already damaging effect on our Green designer Stella McCartney at an event. Can the desire to save our earth overshadow one’s love for high fashion and all things Cavalli?
According to Barb Atkin, VP of Fashion Direction at Toronto’s Holt Renfrew, yes. . .and no. Atkin is optimistic that while the public’s love for high fashion will continue to prevail, the hopes of a seamless co-existence between earth friendly style and the glamour of couture will continue to flourish. “I think you’ll see high fashion embrace eco as part of their assortments,” she suggests.
Atkin notes that a handful of fashion designers have made admirable strides to cater to customers seeking eco-fashion. “Everybody is looking at that, how they can make eco look fashionable and sexy at the same time. As they find more and more techniques[…] technology has a way of making this all happen, and everyone is in the labs, so to speak, figuring out the next world,” she says.
While Atkin applauds designer Stella McCartney for her efforts, she offers other names that not only practice eco-friendly methods to create garments, but also focus on ethical means of production.
J Brand denim is making changes to their label, boasting a green company that will reduce the amount of water that is polluted through their dyes and washes for their product. New York’s Rag and Bone has become increasingly more
conscious of their choices and have made strides to leave a positive environmental footprint.
Jewellery designer, John Hardy, is committed to helping the environment and is one of the first companies dedicated to raising awareness on global warming. Additionally, he is a carbon neutral company due to the fact that he plants
bamboo on the coast of Bali and has offset his carbon emissions through his print advertising. Admirable efforts, indeed.
Atkin understands that it’s not just designers who have to make the change, but retailers as well. “Another thing is the ‘fast fashion’ we produce. The Zara’s and H&M’s of the world, who have daily deliveries[…] What do they do with all of it? We have become a society of excess. Where do we dump it all?” she laments.
Atkin asserts that while Holt Renfrew is committed to its original mission of providing luxury goods to their customers, she admits that they too have made changes all in the name of social responsibility, “As our company mandate
and part of our own brand promise, we conduct business as a responsible corporate citizen,” she says, “It’s our responsibility to take this on.”
According to Atkin, Holt Renfrew recognizes the growing importance to not only be ecoconscious but conscious of all ethical and social issues, and that is why the company has a standing order that all companies and vendors they deal with disclose their own code of ethics based on ethical training, environment and so on.
In the end, Atkin credits the eco-conscious customer for challenging corporations to make better choices. The company is also aware of a new generation of buyers who want beautiful products, but in the end, just being beautiful
products might not be enough, “We need to go back to the market as buyers of luxury goods […] edit the process, tell the consumer that they have choices to make. It’s more of a silent revolution.”