News

EcoChic Fashion Preserves Biodiversity

EcoChic Fashion Preserves Biodiversity
EcoChic Fashion Preserves Biodiversity

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Schlein

A United Nations Trade Group is promoting so-called "EcoChic Fashion" as one way of stemming the rapid loss of the world's biodiversity.  The United Nations has designated 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity to focus attention on the threatened extinction of the fauna and flora on which the world depends for survival.  The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development is calling for the sustainable use of natural resources.  It says ecological fashion firms use organic materials and production methods that do not damage the environment. 

Pencil-thin models strut down the catwalk sporting the latest in ecochic fashion.  With their stiletto heels and robotic looks, they could be in Milan or Paris, London or New York.  But, their flaxen beehive wigs and stylish garments made from natural materials tell a different story.  Nearly 50 ready-to-wear and couture designers from 40 countries have cut their cloth from a range of organic and recyclable materials including organic bamboo and silk, alpaca and pineapple fibers and even 100 percent paper.

The organizer of the show, Christina Dean, says her Hong Kong-based environmental charity, Green2Greener, promotes sustainable living.  She says ecochic events are the main platform for doing that.

"We always try to ensure that we really are doing the best we can in our environmental performance.  Obviously, with a very strong message about fashion and sustainability, we need to be as sensitive to the environment in everything that we do," she says.

"I embarked on the road of sustainability or ethics or biodiversity about five years ago, when I founded a company called Noir…I work with 16,000 farmers in Africa.  And, what we do is grow organic and fair-traded cotton," says Danish fashion designer Peter Ingwersen, who says he got into so-called "green fashion" when he realized more and more consumers nowadays want to buy ethically.  They want to be seen to be doing good.

"Ten years ago, it was enough to buy the latest 'it' bag.  Today, that is not enough any more," he says.  "When you want to buy the latest it bag, you also want to know how it is produced…And that is the biggest change that we have seen in our business since the hem-lengths went below the knee." 

Conservationists present a gloomy picture about the state of the world's biodiversity.  The United Nations reports the loss of habitat has accelerated the loss of biodiversity in recent years.  Some estimates suggest species extinction because of human activity is about 1,000 times faster than the natural rate of loss.

Bio-trade analyst at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development Lucas Assuncao says local communities will be more inclined to preserve their flora and fauna, if they can see economic benefits from using their natural resources in a sustainable manner.

He says this has worked in Bolivia, which has a huge population of yacare, a species of crocodile.

"It so happens that in some parts of Bolivia, this over-population of yacares is detrimental to human life…So, there is a real claim there to sustainably manage the yacare population, which means killing them.  It so happens that the skin is very valuable for the shoe industries in Italy, for example.  So, there is a win-win opportunity," he says.

"My name is Sarah, Sarah Ratty.  I run an eco-fashion brand called Ciel.  I've been involved in eco-fashion for 20 years." Ratty says ecologically friendly clothes are not, necessarily, ethnic nor frumpy looking.  She says her collection is very modern, although it uses a diverse range of natural products.

"There are a lot of great new green innovations, which are working within natural fabrics, as well as synthetics that are doing this," she says. 

"I am Alphadi.  I'm the president of all-Africa Fashion Designers for 20 years." Alphadi, who comes from Niger, is founder of the Festival of the Deserts.  "I make every two years a big festival in the desert.  We bring maybe 5,000 persons to the desert to make African fashion true and to help African fashion to grow and to give human face for African fashion." 

Alphadi has stores in New York, Paris and several African countries.   His clients include the wives of Africa's presidents.  He has designed clothes for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the late singer Michael Jackson.

Alphadi says promoting so-called green clothes is both good for the environment and good for the pocketbook.  His ecochic couture fashion costs several thousands of dollars and, ready to wear, several hundred dollars. 

"That's me.  Alphadi.  Eco.  Green and we make money.  Make money for me and make money for my country.  And to help Africa to grow and to give it a human face…Europeans make fashion.  Why not Africa?  Fashion can help Africa."

The show is over.  And, from the enthusiastic applause, it is clear that, at least with this crowd, ecochic is in.  The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development says eco-fashion brings in between $150 million and $200 million a year. 

It considers this an increasingly significant chunk of the market and predicts green fashion will continue to grow, as more people recognize  that what is good for the environment can also be good for their looks.
 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs