As the slow fashion movement gains momentum, designers are becoming more conscious of the impact the industry has on people and the planet. Here, our top eco-trend picks for the season—from wellness shoes to zero waste.
The New Minimalism
From edgy, tailored separates to geometric patterns with pops of color, architectural—almost futuristic—dressing has taken a fall 13 spotlight. The new minimalism is all about clean lines and spare use of accessories—a cuff bracelet, a bold ring, a cut-out clutch. This is Balmain meets Logan’s Run, and we love the idea of using less to be more stylish.
New Zealand-based Kowtow, a certified fair trade organic cotton label, is a sustainable best pick for this trend. Fusing Japanese architecture with Zen philosophy, Kowtow’s fall line, inspired by minimalist architect Tadao Ando, is all about simplicity from concept to creation. “The fabric—in combination with clever pattern making—can speak for itself without an excessive amount of embellishment and fuss,” says Gosia Piatek, designer/director for Kowtow. —Amy Dufault
Neon doesn’t grow on trees, and mainstream designers and large fashion brands are realizing the important role that natural dyes can play in bolstering a strong sustainability statement.
Levi’s, Terrain and Eileen Fisher are just three that are pioneering the use of natural dyes. Chris Costan, color designer at Eileen Fisher, says the company makes every effort to use organic materials, natural dyes and non-dyed colors in fabrics/yarns. “Using natural dying helps build a greener economy through sustainable methods and preserve dying’s cultural traditions,” says Costan. “As with natural food, natural colors are good for the world and good for the environment,” says Costan. —Amy Dufault
From cropped tailored jackets and soft cardigan wraps to lip stains in pretty pinks and reds (which you can tone way down or ramp up however you like), “Femininity rules,” says celebrity makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty. This season’s makeup looks feature a natural flush on the cheek, a soft look to the skin, and “an innocent red,” says Swift, who features RMS Beauty Sacred Lip Shine on the lips with a dab on the cheeks, for fall. —Rona Berg
Made in the U.S.A.
From budding e-commerce sites to coast-to-coast manufacturing models springing up in major cities to keep production local, clothing made in the U.S. is getting a lot of support.
The Manhattan-based Save the Garment Center’s Erica Wolff, who also works with designer Nanette Lepore, says, “Made in the U.S.A.” has become increasingly important to the world of fashion. “Domestic factories afford designers the opportunity, as a result of proximity, to maintain quality control, manage their product numbers, keep up with the trends, be socially responsible, and are now increasingly less expensive then producing overseas,” says Wolff, adding that the demand for local factories across the United States continues to rise.
In response, the emergence of resources like Maker’s Row (makersrow.com, an online database for U.S. manufacturing) and Save The Garment Center (savethegarmentcenter.org) are enabling designers to easily understand, locate, and access manufacturers in the United States that will best help them develop their collections, create jobs and lower carbon footprints. —Amy Dufault
When a typical garment is made, about 15 percent of the fabric is discarded and 50 percent of that is not biodegradable. In addition, the average fashion house discards 4,500 fabric swatch cards each year. But the movement to waste less is beginning to bloom: even French luxury house Hermès opened a creative studio in its Parisian rue de Sèvres boutique, designed to give the label’s offcuts a second lease on life.
Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin, a pioneer for the zero waste movement, uses “Lean Method” manufacturing, where no products are made until an order is confirmed. “This ensures that we produce only what is required, saving natural resources,” says Chanin.
Scraps from the label’s clothing production are integrated into products that require less yardage (pillows, trims, napkins, tea-towels), while scraps not appropriate for any other use are saved and baled, for special projects. “Through our continuous process of recycling and up-cycling, we are working towards becoming a zero-waste manufacturer,” says Chanin. —Amy Dufault
Americans throw away 70 pounds of clothing per year, sending over 1.1 million tons of textiles to landfill. This season’s supremely touchable, eco-luxurious fabric innovations—like vegetable cashmere and soya, from Hu-Nu, pictured here—are not only sustainable and biodegradable, but so soft and beautiful you will never want to take them off. —Rona Berg
Getting Off the Fashion Calendar
As designers struggle with the dizzying pace of fall/spring production, sales, market and runway shows, a new trend is emerging this season: leaving the fashion calendar behind. Designers like Adrienne Antonson of STATE are opting to create their own fashion calendars. “We aim to design clothes that you want to wear year round,” she says. “Our designs aren’t reacting to trends or seasons. You can wear them for years to come.”
Tara St. James of Study NY has opted off the fashion calendar, too. St. James says production methods, the pacing of the design process and trying to keep in stride with fast fashion has taken a toll on the environment, and more. “By eliminating collections, and only producing a few garments every month, my goal is to limit the availability of the brand to customers and hope they will carry these consumption values to other items,” she says. —Amy Dufault
Podiatrists have not been this popular since William Mathias Scholl invented Dr. Scholl’s sandals in 1906, to help patients with problem feet. But this is the season of the “wellness shoe,” and podiatric partnerships are stepping lively. Blake Brody’s stylish vegan ballerina flats, a collaboration with Dr. Louis Galli, podiatrist for The Rockettes, feature support for the back of the foot as well as the front. Dr. Andrew Weill partnered with Dr. Phil Vasilyi on his wellness footwear line, Weil Integrative Footwear, which helps improve alignment. Other steps forward for happy, healthy feet: Gentle Souls features flax-seed pillows built into the insoles, for cushioning and comfort. —Rona Berg
Can a print be fodder for conversation? Ever since the 1800s, when fabrics were first printed with recognizable images like trees, fairy-tale characters, women’s silhouettes. Fall 13 continues the love affair with witty prints and patterns. Designers Alice Wu and Moriah Carlson of Feral Childe are leading the sustainable charge, along with Dusen Dusen, Tracy Reese and Clover Canyon. The Feral Childe team says they took inspiration simply by looking out their Brooklyn windows.
“We have an excellent view of New York Harbor and you can see the lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island,” says Wu. From NYC-inspired grids to seagulls, this design duo will have you wearing clothes that everyone will be talking about. —Amy Dufault
We love BB and CC creams, because they multi-task, and we love the stylish clothes and accessories we’re seeing that do it, too: like this Urban Junket bag, designed by Tracy Dyer (Wayne Dyer’s daughter) made from recycled plastic bottles, with a built in battery pack to charge your cell phone or laptop anywhere—including the middle of nowhere. —Rona Berg