Photo credit: FIT
Fair Trade. Local. Vegan. Organic. We've all heard these buzz words when it comes to the food in our grocery stores and on our plates. But when it comes to the blossoming sustainable fashion movement, there are so many catch phrases that shopping with a conscience can be downright daunting--not to mention the controversy surrounding exactly how to define an "eco-garment." "Eco-Fashion: Going Green," an exhibition on display through November 13th at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, is trying to change all that.According to Jennifer Farley and Colleen Hill, assistant curators at the FIT Museum and the lead curators of "Eco-Fashion: Going Green," the show aims to highlight both the the positive and negative environmental practices of the fashion industry through the ages. On one end of the spectrum is a 19th century silk dress dyed green by—what else?—arsenic. While at the other end is an extensive range of contemporary garments, such as a Martin Margiela jacket assembled from multiple (re-used) silk scarves, along with an organic wool sweater dress and faux leather accessories by Stella McCartney, all of which embody today's desire for (and multiple definitions of) more environmentally-conscious fashion.
"Instead of [causing them to feel] bad, we hope that we have made people think a little more about where their clothing comes from, how it's being produced, and what steps they might take to 'go green,'" Farley and Hill said.
"Our favorite pieces are those that showcase the techniques of repurposing or recycling," Farley and Hills say of an eco-friendly technique that has been popular through the ages. "For instance, we have included a man's dressing gown that was remade from a crazy quily during the Great Depression. Instead of ending up as refuse, pieces like this were given a new life."
As a further means to help us with all of those seemingly impossible eco-buzz words, Farley and Hill broke down the 100 garments, accessories, and textiles on display into six major themes: repurposing and recycling of materials; material origins; textile dyeing and production; quality of craftsmanship; labor practices; and the treatment of animals.
Photo credit: FIT
Lucky for us, there are easy-to-search keywords on eBay that can provide a shopper with a closet full of stylish, environmentally-friendly fashion finds. Check out our ideas below and find more at Green.eBay.com and WorldofGood.com by eBay.
Want to avoid wearing animal products? How about searching for vegan leather and faux fur styles? Vegan is up with eBay users as well. When we compared listings on eBay with the term "vegan" in the Clothing, Shoes and Accessories category from a recent week with a week-long period approximately one year ago, we found listings had increased 15 percent and sales were up 6 percent.
One of the exhibition's major themes is "material-origins." Using organic methods to manufacture wool, cotton and silk helps mitigate the environmental damages that conventionally grown textiles leave behind, including depleted water supplies and nutrient-deficient soils from pesticide and poor-irrigation use. On eBay, listings of items with the term"organic" in the Clothing, Shoes and Accessories category are up 28 percent and sales are up 7 percent in a recent week vs. a week-long period approximately one year ago.
Farley and Hill tout the eco-benefits of buying garments that incorporate unique and quality craftsmanship. These iconic, durable pieces will stand the test of time in both style and durability, making the strain on both the fashion-cycle and your wallet much lighter.
Just like the Fair Trade coffee you buy at the grocery store, Fair Trade clothing is produced under the notion that all workers are treated to financially equitable and safe working conditions. eBay's WorldofGood.com is a great resource for Fair Trade shopping; every seller that trades on the marketplace has been verified by third party organizations like the World Fair Trade Organization and Aid to Artisans.
Even just searching the term "eco" on eBay can come up with some stylish options that fall in-line with the exhibition's six themes. eBay has a great resource in their newly-launched Green Shopping Hub that surfaces eco-products that fall into three categories: Pre-owned (because the greenest product is the one that already exists), Sustainable (made from sustainable materials like bamboo or organic cotton, and Resource Saving (those products that save energy or other natural resources in the long run, like Sigg bottles, solar powered cell phone chargers or energy efficient laptops).
This article was written by Lexi Green, a Brooklyn-based design, fashion, and shopping writer and contributor to eBayGreenTeam.com and TheInsideSource.com. She is currently a Master's Degree candidate at Pratt Institutes's environmental sustainability program. We welcome your comments, so please visit us at eBayGreenTeam.com and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Read more about sustainable fashion:
Green Fashion: 7 Reasons Why You Should Care About Sustainable Fashion
Pratt Presents 'Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion'
Anti-Fashion Designer Philippe Starck Creates Sustainable Fashion Collection