Credit: Andrew Lee
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Fashion is a fickle creature.
One minute weâ€™re floating around in flimsy tunics and â€˜bohoâ€™ skirts and the next being told that we should squeeze ourselves into skinny jeans (and if theyâ€™re a size 00 then so much the better).
But there is one look steadily infiltrating the world of fashion that has more to do with hemp and bamboo than it does HermÃ¨s and Balenciaga. This is eco-fashion, and the latest style to hit the catwalk.
Of course, â€˜ecoâ€™ clothing is not a new concept. Socially responsible and environment-friendly garments have been around for ages, but theyâ€™ve been more closely associated with hippies than high fashion.
However, just as ethical and organic products are becoming commonplace in the food and beauty industries, so too are fashion designers beginning to address the issues of doing good as well as looking good.
â€œPeople today talk about the conscious consumer. Hopefully thereâ€™s a conscious designer too,â€ says Sue Thomas, fashion lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne.
â€œItâ€™s the idea that as a designer youâ€™re making considered choices and thinking about the repercussions of those choices: what is it that youâ€™re designing, why are you designing it and why is it needed? And as a consumer youâ€™re thinking, do I need this? And if I do need it, then what am I paying for it? Where is it being made, what is it made from and will wearing it and laundering it impact on the world?â€
So-called â€˜green fashionâ€™ has been building momentum since the turn of the century, but itâ€™s during the last couple of years that it has experienced significant growth.
â€œFive years ago there were just a handful of eco-designers,â€ says New York-based Summer Rayne Oakes, who has been dubbed â€˜the Eco-Modelâ€™ for combining her environmental activism with a successful career in modelling.
â€œNow there are hundreds. Independent designers are coming to terms with sustainable style and creating designs that are lighter on the planet.â€