Environment Blog

Green is the New Black at Fashion Week

From February 11th to 18th, New York City Fashion Week brought together the world’s best designers and brands to showcase the coming trends in Fall and Winter clothing. Winter Fashion […]

February 22, 2010

From February 11th to 18th, New York City Fashion Week brought together the world’s best designers and brands to showcase the coming trends in Fall and Winter clothing. Winter Fashion Week 2010 had all the usual hallmarks: big names in design like Vera Wang, Stella McCartney and Jil Sander. But one aspect of the 67-year-old event was brand new—it was a carbon neutral show.

Yes, green is now officially in. Fashion Week’s sponsor, Mercedes Benz, set a goal to make the semi annual event carbon neutral for the first time ever. To accomplish this, Mercedes bought enough carbon offsets to have net zero carbon emissions, specifically to offset the huge heated tents in Bryant Park where most of the events are held. Other green measures—efforts such as using tap water instead of bottled water, and recycling—also played a huge roll in making the show green.

Eco-couture was all over the runways. The collections featured vegan winter coats, accessories constructed from old leather jackets, and items made from totally recycled and organic material. Back in the Fall 2008 NYC Fashion Week, eco-couture was in style as well—designers such as Donna Karan and Michael Kors teamed up with brands like Givenchy and Versace to create green clothing manufactured in sustainable ways. But the greenification of this year’s Fashion Week went way beyond the runway.

Many think that the new interests in carbon neutrality, limited waste, and green clothing collectively prove that the fashion world has fully adopted an ecological conscience. In an interview with Reuters, Patti Pao, founder of market research firm Pao Principle said, “[eco-consciousness] is becoming something that is sort of chic and OK to talk about, and so the fashion industry has embraced that and has really taken that cause … under their wing”

Fashion trends tend to trickle down: the clothes that Versace or Marc Jacobs put on the runway today will likely flow into more mainstream fashion outlets in a year or so. Hopefully, green fashion will make its way onto shelves from chic 5th avenue boutiques to the local J.C. Penney, and Fashion Weeks all around the world will adopt the green approach.

But, like anything else, green fashion week had its share of critics. Some criticisms were quite legitimate—the Financial Times pointed out that there seems to be no criteria or standard lexicon for what green or eco fashion really is. Then there was the not so legitimate—some complained that the tap water stations were not as close together as they would have liked, and many people had to walk a few blocks to get water. A heel-wearing model was quoted as saying,“I wouldn’t walk six blocks to have tap water… not in these shoes,” to which I respond, “Don’t worry honey, it’s all part of the Eco Plan. You’re helping aerate the grass of Bryant Park.”

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About the Author

Michael Glenn Easter enjoys writing about the intersection between the environment, politics, and economics–he studied those three topics by creating his own major at Wheaton College. He is particularly interested in the environmental issues of the West and has spent summers interning for the mayor of Salt Lake City, a Utah-based environmental group, and the EPA’s Rocky Mountain Region office in Denver

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