In the land of Hollywood fashion, glamour and money, stylists are easy to come by. However, stylists who seek to promote and support the use of ethical fashion and design-that is more of a diamond in the rough. For the ydt launch party, co-founder Lauren and I were lucky to get styled by one of these rare gems, Alex Davis. Post-event we sat down with her to pick her brain about fashion, sustainability, ethics and more.
Your Daily Thread: What inspired you to get into eco/ethical fashion?
Alex Davis: Ethical fashion to me represents a fusion of a lot of different things I am passionate about. I have always been a fashion freak, especially vintage fashion. Everywhere I traveled, including around my home state of Minnesota, I sought out the best vintage stores. In college, I majored in International Relations, which is essentially the study of foreign affairs and global issues among states within the global/international system. I love to travel – studied abroad three times. I also am and have always been a strong believer in eating and growing things healthy and organically. Together, these things have become just a natural evolution and fusion of my interests.
YDT: What designers are leading the charge (in your opinion). Who is walking the walk and who is just talking?
AD: Peter Ingerwersen -Noir (Danish Label) is a company to watch. The head designer of Noir is definitely leading the charge. His lines are clean, sexy, sophisticated and amazing. He is also setting up an eco textile company from which other designers can source fabrics. Noir sources certified organic and fair-trade fabrics from Uganda. It also adheres to the International Labor Organization’s Conventions and the UN Global Impact that assures an “ethically, socially and environmentally sustainable production and end product.” Founder Peter Ingwersen has said: “We want to be known as the first brand to bring sophistication and sexiness to corporate social responsibility.”
I’m also a supporter of Stella McCartney from London; she is definitely someone that walks the walk. Her company’s headquarters are wind-powered and uses recycled paper, biodegradable corn bags, etc. I had an opportunity to intern there as a student and I learned so much. Stella McCartney makes consciousness part of her everyday life for her and the people that work for her. She is also one of the only designers that focuses on fashion forward, high quality ethical footwear.
YDT: Any in the U.S.?
AD: Bahar Shahpar, a designer based out of New York. She founded the Four Hundred Consulting Agency where she fuses designers with eco textile showrooms and resources. She also creates her own eco-friendly line too. Also Mark Liu. He makes zero waste garments out of one piece of fabric (repurposed fabrics too). His stuff is cutting edge with a small footprint, but substantial in style.
YDT: How can the everyperson green their fashion, without breaking the bank?
AD: Hit the flea markets, hit the vintage stores, charity shops, resell shops, and hit American Apparel. Most importantly, SHOP your own closet. Remake, remove, recycle, repurpose, reuse and reattach. Turn an unwanted jacket into a chic vest, take clothes that don’t fit properly to a tailor, cut up old boots-creativity can take you far.
YDT: What are some of the most eco-friendly fabrics available on the market?
AD: Cellulose, a material that is a natural accruing fiber in wood. From a quality fabric perspective, I really like Lyocell and Ingeo.
Traditional cotton is not a very eco-friendly crop. Regular cotton uses large amounts of pesticides (10% of all), insecticides (25% of all) and chemicals-plus it consumes a ton of water. The U.S. alone consumes 45% of the world’s cotton (despite only having 13% of the world’s population.) The crop also regularly depletes the soil on which it is grown, encouraging traditional farmers to seek out chemicals to salvage their fields.
Hemp is an underrated fabric. I personally love hemp; it grows quickly in all conditions and needs little fertilizer. Plus it actually enriches the soil it grows in. It can be used alone or mixed with other fabrics (Hemp Silk etc). Stella McCartney uses a lot of Hemp in her lines.
There is also EcoSpun (Eco-Fi) that is made from post consumer plastic bottles (Patagonia does this). It can also be blended with other fibers such as wool, cotton and tencel.
YDT: Why do you think being fashionable is important? Many people sometimes think it’s vain, not of importance. How do you defend fashion’s place in the world?
AD: Being “fashionable” is definitely a personal choice but “fashion” is never going to go away. It is an extremely powerful medium for change. If used in the right way, one can change the world through fashion. The fashion world changes opinions, defines eras, and elevates and highlights the evolution of history. It differentiates people – judges, military, religious wardrobe. Fashion evolves with history and changes with cultural and attitude changes. One reason I think fashion is most important is that it is a form of self-expression – one which I personally utilize to the max. You can express your style, your individuality, your confidence, personality and moral and beliefs especially through ethical fashion your support for the movement and the designer. To me it’s a form of unwritten or unspoken communication with others. Fashion is a language really.
I think Katherine Hamnett put it best when she said: “Clothes create a wordless means of communication that we all understand.”
To learn more about you can get ethical fashion into your lifestyle contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to check out her website — www.cobragreenfashion.com (out soon) to see her new organic line that she is working on with Michel Llanos of Eco Bungalow.
Some other opinions on ethical fashion