Colgate Couture – Bangin’ Boots for Fall

Laura Stoloff

What phrase frightens the most serious of fashionistas? “Going Green.” But don’t roll over in your fur coats just yet: eco-friendly doesn’t always mean Birkenstocks and hemp. This season, designers have made eco-conscious clothing and cosmetics more accessible than ever before. There’s no need to compromise great style during a time of climate crisis. So watch out Colgate, not only can we save the world by eating with biodegradable utensils (even though they melt) but we can also save the world in our fashion choices while still looking avant-garde.

Fashion has always meant cutting edge. That’s why many fashion designers have hopped on board with a very unlikely group: environmentalists. Fashion houses have made the planet their main focus the past two seasons, as seen everywhere from boutiques and corporate stores like Target and Wal-Mart, while also featured in major fashion magazines such as ELLE and Vogue. But what does eco-friendly clothing really mean?

Eco-friendly clothing reflects the environmentally sensitive fabrics used and the means of manufacturing these products. The nonprofit Sustainable Technology Education Project (STEP) defines eco-conscious products as clothes “that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry.” With the use of organic cotton (cotton grown without pesticides) and recycled materials, designers have begun a revolution. “Going green” has become the new black.

Efforts for better environmental treatment began in 2005 at New York Fashion Week with the nonprofit EarthPledge, the first representation of high fashion mixed with eco-friendly fabrics made of hemp, recycled poly and bamboo. Barney’s followed suit by featuring the clothing in their display windows, signalling that concern for climate change is now the vogue. ?

Stella McCartney is the most notable of designers who has made the initiative towards going green a focal point in her designs. She uses no leather or fur in her clothing, and also introduced an organic skincare line in 2007 titled CARE by Stella McCartney. This way, you can wear your fur coat without fearing those PETA radicals on the New York City streets. McCartney focused her Fall 2008 collections on British heritage and reinvented the sweater dress, swing coat and created fur alternatives that still looked utterly sumptuous and cozy in shades of beige and black.

American Apparel also manufactures their clothing while remaining eco-friendly. The cotton clothes are made from 20% organic materials and are produced sweatshop-free in the U.S. And on top of that they recycle over a million pounds of fabric per year. Ralph Lauren manufactures fabric in khaki-tone hemp while Giorgio Armani also designs jeans with hemp materials.

Other designers off the main track are making an impact as well. Lulu Frost creates jewelry with reusable material, Linda Loudermilk based in L.A. offers sculptural suits and Edun makes tailored shrunken trench coats, bringing fashion forward while also staying conscious of eco-friendly materials.

The most notable celebrity who environmentalists praise ?for dressing vegan is Natalie Portman. Portman, as a vegan, found it difficult to find fashionable footwear sans leather. In response, she started her own collection of vegan shoes with specialty store Te Casan. Portman makes everything from satin sandals to faux-patent pumps and ballet flats.

So what should you do after reading this article? No, don’t throw out your leather accessories and commit your soul to climate change, but next time you shop in a department store or boutique, look for the “go-green” labels. The more the customer demands, the more eco-friendly clothes designers will produce. And then, once and for all, the stereotype can be rid of, because, after all, fashionistas do care about the climate.?