Eco-fashion is one of the biggest trends of the decade, and designers are offering more stylish and affordable clothing as consumer demand rises. That’s why Wake Forest’s sustainability office and eco-designer Jenny Hwa are co-hosting a fashion show of eco-chic clothing and accessories. Scheduled for April 6, Sustainable Style WSNC will be the first of its kind in the Winston-Salem area. Models will wear shirts, skirts, dresses and jewelry from more than a dozen top designers.
“With every year that passes, it becomes easier to incorporate eco-friendly values into our shopping habits,” says Jenny Hwa, owner and CEO of the environmentally friendly company, loyale clothing. “If you want to support companies with green philosophies, you have to do your homework. Eco-friendly products are available, but consumers have to do some research to find them.”
Choosing garments made in the U.S.A. can be an eco-friendly option. “Domestically produced clothing is subject to U.S. labor and environmental regulations,” says Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, director of sustainability at Wake Forest. “Clothing made in developing countries is often produced there precisely because there are no regulations.
“To be conscious consumers we need to focus on things other than price as a value,” DeLongpré Johnston adds. “When we buy that $1.99 shirt, we often have to give up something else that’s important to us, because the true costs of the clothing have been externalized onto the environment and the backs of the people making the clothes.”
To choose earth-friendly fashions, look for organic cotton. Why? According to Hwa, the fibers of a conventional pair of jeans and a t-shirt are embedded with two cups of toxins due to chemical-intensive growing and production methods.
Natural dyes are also good choices. In some cases, manufacturers use color-grown cotton, which is derived from organic plants that bloom in colors varying from brown to green to blue. That makes dyes unnecessary.
The good news is that earth-friendly clothing no longer resembles a burlap sack. Hwa’s designs, for example, have been featured in magazines such as Vogue and InStyle, and worn by celebrities such as Blake Lively, Rachel McAdams and Jessica Alba.
DeLongpré Johnston believes it is important to highlight the fact that earth-friendly clothing can be both stylish and beautiful — especially on college campuses — where educating people about sustainable choices may help change the consumer mentality of quantity over quality. “People get up and get dressed every day. This event will give people an opportunity to turn the lens of sustainability on a seemingly ordinary activity and see it in a new way.”