Saturday, May 21, 2011

Renown fashion designer hops on the sustainability train


By Jane McFarland  on Thursday 5 May 2011

Vivienne Westwood tshirt
The grande dame of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood, guest-edits our June issue with a rainforest campaign special.
To raise awareness of deforestation and encourage more of us to up-cycle our clothes, our rainforest special has plenty of tips from the Vivienne Westwood herself onhow to wear - and re-wear -old clothes.

As if that weren't exciting enough, she's also designed anexclusive T-shirt dress withPeople Tree - proceeds from which will go to support a project for the Garo women in Bangladesh.

From every sale, £7 will be donated to the Society for Human Development to support tribes whosenative forest land has been destroyed by logging.

For the full interview and photoshoot with Vivienne, pick up a copy of thismonth's Marie Claire in store now.

Watch our Exclusive behind-the-scenes video here:

Monday, May 16, 2011

So what is sustainable fashion?

What does Wikipedia, arguably the most common source of general inormation on the internet, has to say about sustainable fashion?

The following article will hopefully start up the conversation on what you feel about sustainable fashion and your ideas on helping improve the fashion industry as a viable route towards sustainable growth?


Sustainable fashion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Sustainable fashion, also called eco fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of environmentalism and social responsibility. Sustainable fashion is part of the larger trend of sustainable design where a product is created and produced with consideration to the environmental and social impact it may have throughout its total life span, including its "carbon footprint". According to the May 2007 Vogue appears not to be a short-term trend but one could last multiple seasons.[1] While environmentalism used manifest itself in the fashion world through a donation of percentage of sales of a product to a charitable cause, fashion designers are now re-introducing eco-conscious methods at the source through the use of environmentally friendly materials and socially responsible methods of production.
There are some organizations working to increase opportunities for sustainable designers. The National Association of Sustainable Fashion Designers is one of those organizations. Its purpose is to assist entrepreneurs with growing fashion related businesses that create social change and respect the environment. Sustainable Designers provides specialized triple bottom line education, training, and access to tools and industry resources that advance creative, innovative and high impact businesses. The organization’s mission is to create social change through design and fashion related businesses by providing education, training and programs that are transformative to the industry and to cultivate collaboration, sustainability and economic growth.
According to Earth Pledge, a non-profit organization (NPO) committed to promoting and supporting sustainable development, "At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still two thirds of a garment's carbon footprint will occur after it is purchased." [2]

There are many factors when considering the sustainability of a material. The renewability and source of a fiber, the process of how a raw fiber is turned into a textile, the working conditions of the people producing the materials, and the marterials total carbon footprint.

Natural fibers

Natural Fibers are fibers which are found in nature and are not petroleum-based. Natural fibers can be categorized into two main groups, cellulose or plant fiber and protein or animal fiber.


Cotton is one of the most widely grown and chemical-intensive crops in the world.[3]. Conventionally grown cotton uses approximately 25% of the worlds insecticides and more than 10% of the worlds pesticides.[4]. Other cellulose fibers include: Jute, Flax, Hemp, Ramie, Abaca, Bamboo, Soy, Corn, Banana, Pineapple.


Wool, Silk, Angora, Camel, Alpaca, Lama, Vicuna, Cashmere, Mohair


from natural materials: Lyocell, Polylactic acid or PLA (Corn Polymer)

Recycled fibres

Recycled or reclaimed fibres are made from scraps of fabrics collected from clothing factories, which are processed back into short fibres for spinning into a new yarn.[5] There are only a few facilities globally that are able to process the clippings and variations range from a blend of recycled cotton fibers+added rePET yarns for strength to recycled cotton fibres+virgin acrylic fibers which are added for color consistency and strength.


Designers say that they are trying to incorporate these sustainable practices into modern clothing, rather than producing "hippy clothes."[1] Due to the efforts taken to minimize harm in the growth, manufacturing, and shipping of the products, sustainable fashion is typically more expensive than clothing produced by conventional methods.[1]
Celebrities, models, and designers such as Stella McCartney, Rogan Gregory, Peter Ingwersen, Ali Hewson, Bono, Stewart+Brown and Summer Rayne Oakes have recently drawn attention to socially-conscious and environmentally friendly fashion. Portland Fashion Week, which has featured sustainable designers and apparel since 2005, has also attracted international press for its efforts to sustainably produce a fashion week that showcases 100% eco-friendly designs.[6] An increasing number of Hollywood celebrities have been associated with sustainable fashion, including Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz, Alicia Silverstone, Adrian Grenier, Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek.[citation needed]


As well as fashion designers, there also exist entire brands built on the concept of sustainable fashion. To be truly sustainable, brands must use natural, sustainable materials to make their clothing; and sustainable, renewable forms of energy to power their factories. For example brands such as Rapanui, a UK based sustainable fashion brand use Vestas Wind Turbines to power their textile mill in India, where organic cotton is turned into products for the UK market. To use conventional methods of generating electricity, by burning fossil fuels, would negate the positive effects of using sustainable materials and consequently the company could not honestly call itself sustainable and may be guilty of Greenwashing.
For this reason, it is important that sustainable fashion brands are 100% transparent about the way they do business so that the customer can find out more about every stage of the supply chain and judge the sustainability of the product themselves before buying. Traceability tools are becoming increasingly popular, usually in the form of an interactive map displaying each stage of the supply chain and providing honest, factual information about the processes that occur at each stage of the supply chain.[7]


Though all cotton has a large carbon footprint for its cultivation and production, organic cotton is considered a more sustainable choice for fabric, as it is completely free of destructive toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Many designers have begun experimenting with bamboo fibre, which absorbs greenhouse gases during its life cycle and grows quickly and plentifully without pesticides.[8]. Even with this, bamboo fabric can cause environmental harm in production due to the chemicals used to create a soft viscose from hard bamboo.[9]. Some believe hemp is one of the best choice for eco fabrics due to its ease of growth, though it remains illegal to grow in some countries. These facts make recycled, reclaimed, surplus, and vintage fabric arguably the most sustainable choice, as the raw material requires no agriculture and no manufacturing to produce. Recently, another alternative to sustainable fashion has emerged that uses synthetic fibers with a process called AirDye technology that eliminates all water from the dyeing and printing process. While critics still point to the chemicals used in making synthetic materials, this method significantly reduces water consumption and pollution, while cotton (organic or not) uses a tremendous amount of water during the growth and dyeing phases.
Critics of sustainable fashion have argued that the trend merely seeks to stamp high-priced luxury goods with a seal of liberal social approval.[citation needed]. Another major criticism about "sustainable fashion" is the potential of constantly changing fashion to encourage customers to repeatedly discard last season's clothing to purchase the latest fashions.

Non-eco fashion

Sustainability is adaptability. The subject changes due to smaller changes in the universe, and therefore all direct objects must adapt to this change to remain sustainable. In today’s society, the term sustainability usually refers to the sustainability of the earth in an ecological sense. In reality, sustainability can refer to anything. Two aspects of sustainability are the natural aspect, which encompasses everything, from a tulip to the universe itself, and the human aspect, which encompasses everything related to humans. Since humans are the ones studying sustainability, it is easier to analyze something so close and related than something as distant as a nebula, which is why it is such a big aspect now within sustainability. Sustainability can be likened to an automatic machine. The engineer designing the machine wants to make it so that the machine lasts as long as possible, and in order to do that, not only does he have to make it durable, but also, if possible, adaptable. If something within the machine were to malfunction, if the rest of the machine could adapt to this change and continue to run smoothly without the entire thing breaking down, it would be a successfully sustainable machine, and would probably sell for trillions of dollars. The reason for this is that nothing like this metaphorical machine has ever been created, because entropy, the theory of randomness, causes something always to go wrong, to go into randomness. There are two forces acting against each other, one force wanting to remain sustainable, the other wanting to be entropic. That is why sustainability in ecology is becoming such an issue, because of the conflicting forces, the entropic force, and the human aspect is winning, causing the sustainable force, and natural aspect to lose. In fashion, the consumers of fashion have transformed over time, and fashion itself has had to adapt in order to remain sustainable, a.k.a to continue without going bankrupt. Mass marketing within the economy of consumers has forced fashion to change and adapt to the masses, going from tailored couture to "same size fits all" at The Gap (clothing retailer).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

There is no Shape without Shadow

On May 17th, postgraduate students from Newcastle University will bring to the Culture Lab an artistic/technologic experience open to the general public.

The project, which can best be described as an interactive contemporary dance performance, is directed towards the current and future needs of the fashion industry. This event seeks to raise awareness on the industry issues surrounding 'throw away fashion' and the need for sustainability,

Sustainability can materialise from simple interactions. In fashion it has potential to flow not only from the design and production of clothes, but also from the choices we all make on a daily basis: how we select, wear, care for and connect with our garments.

The performance, which will be a one man show performed by Andrea Masala will be directed by renowned choreographer and dancer, Martin Hylton. The event represents one of the Culture Lab's first ventures into merging dance and technology, and it surely promises to be an unforgettable night that should not be missed.

Where: Culture Lab (Newcastle University).
When: Tuesday, May 17th, 5:30pm.
Entrance: free.