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July 28 2014

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Shopping Your Part This Earth Day

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Here’s an inconvenient truth: Dressing eco-friendly is good for the planet, good for the future, and good for your karma, but many environmentally conscious and sustainable clothes are still lagging in the style department. Just ask John Patrick of Organic, one of fashion’s do-right pioneers. “I’m no Balenciaga, but this crunchy, green-bean crowd thinks that because they are using hideous vegan material, they are saving the world, but really it’s only going to end up at Goodwill,” Patrick (left, with models at his Spring ’11 presentation) tells Style.com. “The mindfulness of my work only gets stronger day by day, week by week. I’m not in a bubble and I see the reality of the landscape.” Luckily, he’s not the only one. Retailers, labels, and stores are heeding the call for good-looking, good-doing product, from major chains like H&M with its Conscious Collection to upscale green queen Stella McCartney. And more designers every day are pledging to do their part.

Doing that part can be burdensome, many freely admit. “Now [that] hundreds of designers are working in sustainability, it can’t just be any old cotton—it better be damn good organic cotton,” Patrick adds. And Steven Alan, who incorporates recycled organic and ethical materials, primarily from Japan, into his designs, is candid about the difficulty of balancing eco ideals with market considerations. “It’s just frustrating,” Alan says. “We will work to find one fantastic fabric, but it’s exorbitant, especially with cotton prices where they are now.”

But working a little harder—and, yes, paying a little more—is worth the effort. “It’s where things have to be and there’s no going back, I think,” Alan goes on. “The earth’s resources are just getting fewer and fewer. The way of thinking is changing and I don’t think it will change back—it’s not like skirt lengths or something.” Rogan Gregory and Scott Hahn, the founders of Loomstate, agree. “Buying things of higher quality is always a turn-on,” Hahn opines, “and life is better when you are turned on.” To turn you on—ecologically, of course!—we’ve rounded up some of our favorite look-good, feel-good, environmentally friendly clothes, jewels, and accessories. Buying sustainable is a 365-day-a-year mission. But in honor of Earth Day, keep reading for a few of our favorite little reminders.


Yves Saint Laurent enlisted the help of Burkina Faso artisans, who developed a textile made of recycled plastic bags and woven cotton, exclusively for this limited-edition Muse Two Artisanal handbag ($1,720, www.ysl.com).


The English label Chinti and Parker is fully carbon-neutral; for its easy summer dresses ($223, www.chintiandparker.com), designers Anna Singh and Rachael Wood use a jersey blend made from bamboo and seacel, a derivative of seaweed.


Designer Yodit Eklund produces her Bantu swimsuits using an all-African manufacturing process, helping both the economy and the environment. (Konj bikini, $184, www.barneys.com).


Simple’s Take On Hi sneakers ($70, www.simpleshoes.com) are made with eco-certified leathers, organic cotton laces, biodegradable foam, and recycled car tire soles.


Melissa Joy Manning designed a sustainable and environmentally responsible jewelry collection exclusively for Anthropologie using rough stones such as larima, ruby ziosite, and turquoise ($298, in stores at the end of April).

Photos: Monica Feudi / GoRunway.com (John Patrick); Courtesy Photo (all product shots)

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