Sustainable clothes without style sacrifice? Greta Eagan leads the way.
As an eight-year-old, Greta Eagan wore lipstick to bed. But it wasn't always clear to the woman behind the site Fashion Me Green that fashion was her calling.
"I always had this inclination towards fashion, but I didn't let myself," said Eagan. "I was actually pre-med when I went to undergrad" at University of Colorado, Boulder.
After graduation, she took a gap year to live abroad. "I basically spent a year being a ski bum in Chamonix," said Eagan, making the most of a minor in French. It was there she realized that she wanted to pursue a career in fashion.
While attending the London College of Fashion, Eagan began learning more about the wastefulness of the the fashion industry, and seeing it around her. She had classmates who had no problem with buying a cheap item, wearing it once and throwing it away, "not even bothering to wash it."
She had already become careful about eating sustainably and seeking out non-toxic beauty products, so thinking about the source and impact of her clothing was the next logical step. "It all came to a culmination," Eagan said. "I decided to focus my dissertation on sustainability and fashion."
Since then, Eagan has been on a mission to prove that you can have beautiful things and beautiful experiences, while still living ethically and sustainably. She says eco-friendly clothing has inherited a bad rap, and sustainable garments are expected to be "either expensive, frumpy, ill-fitting or beige."
Her friends in the fashion world didn't understand at first. 'I'd show up to brunch looking cute, and they'd say, 'are you still doing the eco fashion thing?' " Eagan recalls. "I'd explain my outfit and they'd be baffled. But they loved it too, they loved to hear the story."
Eagan started FashionMeGreen in 2010 as a way to showcase brands and designers who were creating clothing with sustainable methods. "I just wanted a visual representation of eco fashion that shows that it's stylish," she said, "while still being sustainable."
Since starting the site, the the sustainable clothing frontier has continued to expand. "Eco-fashion is a really big umbrella. I think that's what people don't always understand." She hopes her work can communicate all the possibilities for sustainable clothing, without limiting style options.
Of course, there are many different ways that sustainable dressing and production can be defined, but Eagan's work provides her readers with a framework to understand the different possibilities. Regular features on the site include non-toxic "Beauty Spot" picks, carefully crafted outfits, and how-to videos.
The trend that excites Eagan the most is the move towards closed-loop manufacturing. Although few brands have fully realized close-loop systems in place, more designers and product engineers are thinking through the lifecycle of clothing, and planning for an item to be recycled.
One of the biggest criticisms of eco-fashion brands is that they're not affordable, but Eagan is a champion for buying fewer, higher quality items. "There's been a change in the air about fast fashion," she said. "People are starting to realize that they have a closet full of clothes that don't wear well over time and start to make them look not as put together or not their best self."
Her mentality is not about chasing fads, but helping readers find a lasting personal style. "I'm happy to say, with all the eco-fashion brands who are producing amazing collections, I feel like I'm never starved for an option."