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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs