It takes a tough cloth to make an ethical corset. Or so says Rachel Reichert, one of the few designers to be spending her talents to bring sustainability closer to our hearts...and our other intimate parts.
You wouldn't think tree-hugging and corset-wearing have much in common. But you would be so wrong. The lingerie industry is huge (more than $25 billion in annual sales), dominated by petroleum products, and drenched in Chinese manufacturing. It desperately needs both small and large suppliers to find new ways to pair fantasy creation with sustainable production.
As in so many areas of eco-fashion, however, the first attempts to make undergarments "green" resulted in some fairly unsexy final products. More recently, that is changing.
Reichert says her collection will be both glamorous, and ethical. She uses mostly organic or vintage base materials, and most of the trimmings are also handmade or vintage, she says. She's the sole manufacturer, sewing everything in her Ithaca, New York studio. Organic cotton and raw "peace" silk are staple fabrics, supplemented with found and collected objects for upcycling. Corsets also must have a number of steel stays for structure.
Earlier Reichert explored making clothing from duct tape. She's also made handbags from organic cotton as well as from Reprotek recycled automobile tires. A previous Kickstarter campaign allowed her to move more into sustainable couture. Her 2011 collection was in black and red and white (some examples available in her Etsy store) and if she receives funding for this campaign, she'll continue in the black and white vein but focus solely on corsets, with her sewing culminating in a fashion show in Ithaca in April 2012.