I was glad and curious to attend the The Green Shows at the New York Fashion Week this week, presenting a group of fashion designers who are working on sustainability by way of reusing and recycling materials , fabrics and objects that many would consider trash or rejects, and transform them into fashion garments.
The interesting thing, as I saw it, is that there is still a good way to go before most of those products can be truly marketable into mainstream or even boutique stores.
The simple reason for this is that the designers are still too involved in their Eco-friendly/Green Activism, most designers have a defined background and participation in environmental/Green causes and therefore, many designs and pieces only convey a statement, sometimes a protest, sometimes an irony, and activism has to be “toned down” into a more refined and subtle form, so the message is still there, but the glamour, usability and good-looking factors prevail. We are talking fashion here!
It was notable to see lots of designers like LAVUK, Auralis, and Samantha Pleet working with recycled fabrics, but going more towards casual and party wear. Other great collections like the “Black Label” by british designer Ashton Michael introduced greatly designed pieces from recycled fabrics and natural products, for a very targeted population of young, androgynous consumers, lovers of the post apocalyptic look.
It is for this very reason, that the most remarkable looks, putting together a great deal of elegance, form and function while still conveying the green message, are the High Fashion designs for the “Upcycled Couture” Collection by Miami designer Luis Valenzuela, bringing class, style and forward thinking to the Green evolution, in an atmosphere of luxury and glamour. His shoes made a remarkable presence, and he was one of only 2 designer to present shoes of his own creation.
I don’t see any reason why green and recycled has to convey a message of wear, deterioration, only post nuke attitudes and solutions. Homeless people, specially in New York, are masters at recycling garbage , and trust me, they don’k look great!
Backstage at the Green Shows, I spotted shirts and dresses left behind from some of the presentations. Does this mean that the designers just wanted to showcase the look – or rather the message- in the runway and just immediately after the event those pieces became garbage for real? Integration of green fashion design into a marketable product needs more than than just an eco-friendly message.
The Green Design for fashion is still in it’s early stages, no doubt way more advanced than the Green Shows of last year, where most dresses were practically unwearable, they were just a protest, an activist’s message, but not a truly fashionable thing.
The 2011 Spring Summer collections bring an air of freshness, and true approach to real fashion design, and, if the movement does not slow down, and goes beyond being a trendy thing of the moment, we should see great solutions and great looks working together for a future in which trash will have to be renamed, given the high value it may have in the hands of these true fashion designers and creators.
All Images ©Jorge Parra. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED