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Monday, 5 March 2012

Making a Low-Carbon Fashion Statement

Woodchip corset by designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse
Leading by example, students at London’s Kingston University have put the spotlight on the fashion industry’s high environmental footprint. The students put on a fashion show, timed to coincide with Paris Fashion Week, where the luxury clothes, shoes and accessories on display were made solely from biodegradable materials.

The ‘Sustainable Luxury’ event was sponsored by InCrops Enterprise Hub, an EU-funded, non-profit company working collaboratively with UK public and corporate partners to stimulate green innovation and green technology development. Based at the University of East Anglia, InCrops asked students to create designs using crop-based renewable raw materials to create ‘low- or zero-carbon fashion’. Nancy Tilbury, director of fashion studies at Kingston University, said “InCrops’ interest in the luxury sector gave us a steep challenge as many fashion practitioners have failed to successfully communicate the relationship between fashion and bio-waste.”

Asking whether “green could be the new black”, Nina Chestney for Reuters cites a Stockholm Environment Institute study showing that the manufacture of synthetic fibres like polyester alone produces nearly five times as much carbon dioxide per kilogramme as biodegradable alternatives like organic cotton. According to the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse, between 1.5 and 2 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year in the UK alone, with most going to landfill and only 25% recycled. Textile recycling schemes are in place but could be more obvious to consumers.

Events such as these are more than opportunities for individual designers to show off their creations. Stilettos made from pistachio nuts and fabrics made from food waste show that another way is possible and might soon make green “the new black”.

By Neil Bradley

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