It can be quite alarming to find out how harmful fashion is to the environment. The materials used to produce the beautiful fashion designs that most fantasize about when flipping through a magazine are in actuality quite damaging. Fabrics such as nylon and polyester are made from petrochemicals and they are non-biodegradable so they can add to the many landfills that pollute the environment. Even the natural fiber, cotton is destroying the earth. Cotton requires the most pesticide out of all the crops in the entire world and if that wasn’t bad enough, by now most of the cotton used in clothing is genetically modified. Yes, we don’t eat the cotton we wear, but our skin does absorb a certain amount of what is placed on it. The manufacturing processes of clothing are also destroying the environment one garment at a time. Many garments require dyeing which involves heavy use of water and contributes to leaving chemical dyes in the water as well. The bleaching process is detrimental due to the use of dioxin producing chlorine compounds. Dioxin is highly toxic, being increasingly linked to cancers, as well as endocrine, reproductive, nervous and immune system damage. These environmental hazards within the fashion industry cannot be ignored. This is why many well known designers are being awakened and causing a shake up in the standard practices of the design industry. Here is a list of ten luxury designers that are utilizing sustainable fabrics and cleaning up their production cycles in order to move towards a cleaner environment.
10. Manolo Blahnik
Manolo Blahnik teamed up with designer Marcia Patmos in 2011 to create an environmentally friendly line of shoes that were offered in his Spring 2012 collection. Patmos created an open-toed flat and a high-heeled sandal all made from discarded tilapia skins, cork and raffia. The shoes were quite a move in the sustainable materials arena since tilapia skins are normally discarded by the food industry. Patmos saw the potential for the skins as a type of leather that would be perfect for creating small leather goods. Patmos and Blahnik wanted to show that eco-friendly could meet luxury good standards. Both pairs of shoes are offered at $895.
The Italian fashion label Marni takes pride in being environmentally conscious by adding recycled materials in its line of jewelry. Marni’s founder and designer, Consuelo Castiglioni included the use of vintage vinyl records and recycled plastic bottles to be used in her fifteen piece Summer Edition 2012 jewelry collection. The vintage records and plastic bottles are molded down into the fun and flirty shapes of flowers and boules that make up Castiglioni’s unique designs. While the designer has mentioned that is not easy when it comes to designing pieces out of green materials, she credits her team of artisans in Columbia who are able to create such delicate designs out of the vinyl records. The handmade items run from around $400 plus.
8. Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. is one luxury jeweler that understands the importance of preserving the environment. The established jeweler has made a commitment to only source diamonds in an environmentally responsible manner. In order to ensure quality and maintain responsibility, Tiffany & Co. purchased Laurelton Diamonds back in 2002. This purchase provides the jeweler with traceability of the diamonds the company mines. Tiffany & Co. will also only purchase rough diamonds from countries that are participants in the Kimberley Processes Certification Scheme. This scheme’s mission is to stop the trading of “conflict diamonds” as well as making sure that diamond purchases are not financing violent rebel movements. As for Tiffany’s famous blue boxes and bags, those are provided by paper suppliers that have all been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
7. Fonderie 47
Fonderie 47 aims to not only help the environment, but to help the societies living within Africa that have been plagued with the illegal use of assault rifles. Founded by Peter Thum and John Zapolski, Fonderie 47 takes AK-47s and transforms them into luxurious pieces of jewelry and watches. The final products are created by prestige designers such as Roland Iten and Philip Crangi. It is with their expertise that an AK-47 can be turned into a $350,000 watch. Fonderie’s sales are all donated to organizations that work to destroy the several millions of illegal firearms within Africa. Thum is no stranger to this type of work, as his previous company is Ethos Water. Now owned by Starbucks, the comapny works to provide water and sanitation programs in Kenya.
6. Monique Pean
Jewelry maker, Monique Pean has been able to capture the essence of high-end luxury mixed with environmentally friendly materials. Pean, who has been named by O, The Oprah Magazine as one of its ten women on the rise, is most noted for using unique materials such as wooly mammoth fossils, walrus and caribou ivory, recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds in her one-of- a-kind creations. One of her statement pieces, the Fossilized Wooly Mammoth Scrimshaw Bangle goes for $6,745. Pean’s elegant jewelry has been seen on A-listers such as Naomi Watts, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon and the first lady herself, Michele Obama.
5. Organic by John Patrick
John Patrick first started creating his sustainable fashion line, Organic, back in 2003. Patrick has been able to open up the eyes of consumers and show them that luxurious clothing can be made with the use of ethical production. Patrick is determined to change the fashion world. He produced the world’s first organic, oxford cotton shirt even when it took him two years to get the fabric made for his creation. His fashion designs incorporate not only organic fabrics, but also botanical dyes and recycled materials. Patrick’s unique pieces are offered at a mid to high price point with cardigan sweaters offered at $325 and tank tops starting at $70.
Armani is another big name designer that is moving toward greener fashion designs. In looking for environmentally friendly textiles, Armani was featured on the list of designers to utilize hemp in his creations. Back in 2012, Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin Firth, was featured on the red carpet wearing an Armani gown made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles. Armani has been quoted in British Vogue implying the need and importance to preserve the environment and how he hopes to create awareness since it is one issue that cannot be avoided.
3. Donna Karan
Donna Karan has been in the fashion world for quite some time now and has seen the need and importance for producing fashions that are not only environmentally friendly, but also socially conscious. Karan has created a foundation titled, Urban Zen, that is about raising awareness and inspiring change in all different aspects of life. Part of Karan’s Urban Zen foundation is setup for assisting Haiti by creating a sustainable model for commerce. Karan features Haitian works of art in her stores and sends back 100% of the profits to Haiti in order to help restore the country.
2. Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney is one designer who strives to not only create fashions that women desire, but she takes her responsibility towards the environment seriously. McCartney’s line features an array of environmentally friendly products that are produced through extensive research in order to maintain its sustainability. McCartney’s line of eyewear is produced out of materials such as caster-oil seeds and citric acid and the soles of her shoes featured in her Autumn 2010 line were made out of a bioplastic called APINAT that will degrade once placed into compost. McCartney has really taken the lead in environmentally friendly fashion by launching a new faux leather in her Autumn 2013 line that is created with over 50% vegetable oil which allows McCartney to use less petroleum in her products.
In Greenpeace Italy’s eyes, Valentino is the winner when it comes to environmentally friendly fashion designers. Greenpeace sends out a Fashion Duel that fashion houses have to fill out in order to be ranked for how they contribute to the environment and the Valentino Fashion Group took first place. Valentino released a statement stating that the fashion house will be eliminating all hazardous chemicals that are used throughout the entire production cycle by January 2020. In 2012, Valentino custom made a dress out of recycled bottles for The Help actress, Viola Davis that appeared stunning on the red carpet at the BAFTA awards.