Having passed my teen years in the US' "counter culture" era, I still find the "billboarding" of clothing items, a branding practice common to many sport-wear makers, to be completely unacceptable. But, for young people who have grown up with large corporate logos and brand names on nearly everything, including underwear, I could see why North Face has their devotion. And, why other makers seemed to be emulating their designs.
Truthfully, the best selling outer wear in the US, and especially the items that young people love, are made from virgin textiles and films derived from fossil hydrocarbons. Sure, the REI store I visited had a few woolies from New Zealand on the "Clearance" rack; but the sexiest designs that fill most of the floor space are pure petro.I checked out The North Face website and that of its parent firm, VF Corporation, looking for signs of Patagonia-like awareness building around green design principles that might boost their brand with tree huggers.
I found no mention of sustainability, energy inputs, climate change, or recycling. Amazing. Even at the top-most level, VF Corporation's Corporate Governance statements, down-loadable at their website (here), are absent any recognition of a prospective relationship between climate change and their brands. (Though, there is recognition of fair labor practices and other humanitarian, but non-environmental, items.)
Hot fashion brands seem to resemble the self-destructing celebrities who's perfectly-designed lifestyles are a daily news item. Viewers fail to see a celebrity life as a possible metaphor for their own - until the crash is obvious - and then look away.
Even though I'm examining a small slice of youth fashion, and that through the narrow experience of mass retailing, what appeals to the young this holiday season does not bode well for the idea that green is sexy will make a substantive difference for the world environment any time soon.
Carbon neutral or "eco-efficient" clothing design is an idea barely on the horizon for major American retailers. It is like organic food in the 1970's, a nascent trend with a very long gestation period, only lately conceived of.
Image credit::Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody at Outdoors Magic