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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.