Recycling Fashion


There has been an incredible interest in the green movement on every front and in every industry. From paperless bills to eco-friendly laundry detergent. In my own home, I am slowly making the transition and am pleased that there are so many more products available at my local deli and supermarket sitting alongside the more traditional brands.

When it comes to green with regards to the fashion industry, though, I scratch my head a bit more. There are more and more fabric mills offering certified organic cottons and interesting new fibers being developed from soy beans and milk (of all things). Polyester, which has taken a bad wrap from the days of our dad’s leisure suits and our mom’s high waisted flares with terrible vpl (visible panty lines), has become an interesting new (again) fiber of choice. Many mills are offering re-cycled polyester fabrics that have newly engineered properties and advanced performance features. I haven’t yet used these new poly fabrics but am pleased that the textile technicians are figuring out how to recycle in a very fashion forward way.

Many designers are drawn to using organic cottons that are produced in China. One of my issues with this is that you still are using the fuel to transport these textiles across the planet. For me, I approach green in two ways for my own collection. One interesting way is using a factory that produces garments on “kick pedal” machines that are not run by electricity. I have a factory in New Delhi India where this is achieved. They sew the garments on foot operated machines and then press the garments using a coal heated iron, again not electrified. I love this idea. However, the two draw backs are that the cost is higher per garment and that I am still shipping these across the world and using fuel.

My second approach to incorporating the green thought process is moving my production (much of it at least) back to NYC. So instead of shipping garments across the globe, I get on the subway to inspect and visit the factories and many times carry the production back on the same subway! This saves tons of fuel obviously and makes sense in many other ways. Fyi-lots of customers do not care where a garment is made, but next time you are considering a garment made in China (for example) versus one made in America, remember the amount of fuel used to get that garment to you. It is kind of the same idea of buying local produce and other food items.

Another fun way that I embrace the green movement is that I sell a line of tee shirts that are a co-branded project with one of my favorite brands called Rogue’s Gallery. The tees are recycled tees, meaning they have been “reclaimed” and are washed, over dyed and printed on. I love this because each tee is different. No two are the same.

There are many ways to approach the green movement and simply walking or biking is an easy one. I know I have a long, long way to go in my personal journey towards honoring mother earth and I welcome new ideas in manufacturing, packaging, and design that will inspire this process.

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