Eco-warriors Create an Ethical Stir at Fashion Week


Green is the colour of the season at London Fashion Week (of the eco variety, not the envy kind). As the au courant crowd jostled into the entrance of LFW’s Design Exhibition for its final day on Wednesday, ‘eco-fashion’ was the word on everyone’s lips.

YES, the sunglass-clad über-tanned clan really do care about more than Cristal-fuelled parties, carb-free meals, glitz, glamour and glossy magazines.

At one end Matthew Williamson was punting umbrellas for charity, while darling of the moment Luella’s exclusively designed T-shirts for the Environmental Justice Foundation’s campaign were being flogged to help end abuse linked to global cotton production.

On the runway pouting waifs were parading garments woven out of recycled refuse, while mobile phone hazard Naomi Campbell was doing her bit for the Rotary Club’s work for flood victims.

Name dropping aside, what earned the greatest greenie points at this week’s exhibition was Estethica: London Fashion Week’s much-acclaimed platform entirely devoted to the best in eco-sustainable fashion. To celebrate its first anniversary Estethica joined forces with sponsors Monsoon and Accessorize to raise general awareness about fair trade, organic fibres and the recycling of materials.

Christian Lacroix and Betty Jackson created pieces, alongside Luella, for the Environmental Justice Foundation’s ‘Pick Your Cotton Carefully’ campaign. The fairly traded and organic T-shirts have been produced to promote the selling of ‘clean’ cotton in an industry rife with forced child labour, heavy pesticide use and environmental degradation.

A company that is carefully considering its carbon footprint is Terra Plana. The Bermondsey-based shoe company employs a pioneering approach to shoe making with its stylishly sustainable soles created from recycled materials using innovative technology and their signature stitching design. They have a number of sub-brands which exemplify different aspects of their ethos. One of those is Worn Again, which utilises discarded and discontinued stock to create its range of high-fashion shoes, including car matting, tyre trim and bicycle inner tubes.

Other eco-warriors creating an ethical stir within the mainstream fashion world include Gary Harvey with his couture-inspired dresses prepared entirely from recycled garments; From Somewhere, who provide funky, fresh designs made from reclaimed leftover fabrics from six Italian fashion and textile manufacturers; MUMO which focuses on bringing talent from developing countries into the UK; and Naturevsfuture: a womenswear brand that utilises organic cotton, wool, hemp, soy, bamboo, seaweed and wood pulp fibres.

Who said fashion was frivolous? Eco fashion is now not simply a trend, but a full-scale movement, and this year’s London Fashion Week has proven that it’s now cool to care.

First published on The London Word, September 2007.
© Abbey Stirling