The following is a guest post, written by designer Tierra Del Forte of Del Forte Denim who attended the event. - KD
This is an exciting time to be involved in the eco-fashion industry. Premium sustainable garments are revolutionizing the image of socially responsible clothing and entering the mainstream as stylish labels in their own right. Many of the designers, both well-established and just emerging, who are committed to environmentally friendly fabric attended the first fashion and design event of the Organic Exchange Annual Conference in the Netherlands in September, Creating New Threads. I was fortunate to be invited to participate at this unique fashion show, attended by farmers, farming projects, manufacturers, NGOs, and retailers from around the world who joined the conference to learn about expanding and evolving the organic fiber market. Between stuffing gift bags and getting in the way of the stylist, I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges involved in making organic cotton a long term, economically viable crop. This experience made me even prouder of everyone involved in this emerging market (including myself). The ensembles showcased at this untraditional fashion show fit into one of four style moods (Active, Contemporary Classics, Street/Urban, and Couture), which effectively highlighted the growing scope of eco-fashion. Every 20 minutes or so, models walked through the audience and posed at staging areas around the room, holding placards with the names of the designers they wore.
The Active category was a showcase of playful styling, complete with brightly colored legwarmers and oversized sunglasses. Standouts from Contemporary Classics included a deliciously feminine full-skirted jersey dress by Rianne de Witte and Anna Cohen’s canary dress printed with eco messages, which proved that eco-warrior can also be sexy.
While the models posed and guests mingled, there was an overall feeling of excitement for the incredible strides made in eco-fashion in the past year. However, attendees did express some concern for the future of the industry. One major worry was greenwashing in the organic cotton market; the misleading claims of companies that wish to present an environmentally responsible image. With companies like Wal-Mart entering the organic market and countless others trying to capitalize on the growing sustainability trend, transparency is increasingly important to ensure ethical standards. Organizations such as historicfutures.com and made-by.nl, which offer supply chain traceability and 3rd party certification, will be valuable partners for those of us committed to sustainable production.