"In Fashion, Green Is Not The New Black:" The Sustainable Fashion "Backlash":

It was inevitable, but given the relative youth of the phenomenon itself doesn't this feel, a little, well, premature?

Hey, we're all for junior-high nerd-style-grinchiness debate, and yes, there have always been certain practical issues with the nascent fashion movement: the fact that it's necessarily boutique and that abstaining from fast-fashion practices doesn't make the factories - nor the poverty that impels people to make their living in them, with scant alternative - disappear. But the larger problem with "eco-fashion" as the ever-superb Vanessa Friedman writes in the FT, is that it's simply too vague a movement. Whereas the rudiments of local eating are clear enough - eat local, eat fresh and (as Pollan would have it) mostly vegetables - there's never been a similar set of guidelines for the fashion equivalent. As Friedman writes, "Having spent two days in Copenhagen immersed in the concept, having thought about it over the weeks since then, and having canvassed a wide variety of fashion figures, I can honestly answer ... no one knows." Designers she solicits give a number of answers - "heirloom" and "quality" pop up a lot, but this is still not much to hang one's hat on - and frankly, for anyone high-end name-brand, not exactly a radical re-structuring either. As Alisa Gould-Simon sagely notes in BlackBook, "What if those quality goods require non-renewable resources for manufacturing?"

Part of the problem is that it's not one easy-message issue. On the one hand, we've got the planet and the toll fast-fashion takes. On the other, we've got the (not unrelated but still, I think, distinct) culture of wild consumerism, no small player in certain recent global financial crises. Yes, the two are connected, but I'm guessing plenty of folks (ahem, myself included) feel more virtuous scratching the acquisition itch with Mrs. Meyers and pricey well-sourced antipasti I frankly wouldn't have bought at a more conventional, earth-unfriendly market. And then there's that inconvenient sweatshop issue: we may feel pretty virtuous living fast fashion-free for a year (and believe me, I'm sure this is a good idea if only to break patterns and live mindfully) but even if all our patterns are broken, we've done a bare minimum. Then too, placing virtuous abstention in opposition to consumerism, while necessary, runs the risk of making the converse seem illicit, contrarian, even daring in a world with few vices. But as long as H&M is tossing millions of pounds of rayon every year, I guess we still have bigger, less conceptual and decidedly farmed fish to fry, sans trans-fats.


Sustainable Fashion: What Does Green Mean?
[Financial Times]

The Trouble With Sustainable Fashion
[BlackBook]