Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fashion Week watch #1

“Sustainable fashion has all the makings of a trend...but we know now it’s a movement.”

That's Julie Gilhart, fashion direct of Barneys, talking about the stampede of top designers to participate in the Earth Pledge fashion show on the eve of New York Fashion Week. In what is becoming a predictable tone, the NY Times article is alternatively informative and snarky:

"Jessica Stam, the leonine fashion model with honey-colored hair and outstanding high arches, tried on a very short ivory dress by the label Rodarte. It was described as being made of hemp silk and a “Piña cobweb,” which sounded as if it might be a drink order for Elvira."

Heaven forbid a reporter should explain that piña is a cellulosic fiber made from pineapple leaf fibers that has a long history of use in Philippine traditional dress. Or help consumers make informed decisions about its sustainability or the ethics of its manufacture. So here's my bit (with help from various internet site, especially AKLAN forum journal and Barongs R Us:

Piña is similar chemically and physically to linen; its production nearly died out in the second half of the twentieth century, as traditional Philippine dress declined in use. Even with a revival of interest in piña over the last twenty years, it is still far from being a mainstream fiber. Is it eco-friendly? Sustainable? Ethically produced? Right now piña is produced on a small, local scale, and the fiber comes from native varieties of pineapple. I didn't find a whole lot of scientific information on piña cultivation, but it seems to be better than regular cotton (which requires lots of pesticides to produce) and slower than bamboo (pineapple leaves take 18 months to grow to a usable size, compared with bamboo which grows like Jack's beanstalk.) Production is small-scale, labor-intensive and time-consuming, which means it's not likely to be industrialized. It would be nice to be able to verify that the fiber producers and weavers are fairly paid, but -- again -- it's not clear. As always, the manufacturers who can make those claims and know their value will let buyers know, but lack of information doesn't tell you much. The main drawback for the average consumer -- green or not -- is that piña cloth remains a VERY expensive material. Don't expect it in your local Target any time soon. Even the high fashion versions are often blends with silk; when using silk brings DOWN the price, you know your wallet is in jeopardy!

Examples of piña and piña-blend fashions advertised as environmentally friendly and/or fair trade:

La Herminia (Philippines)
Patistestoro (Philippines)

Powered by ScribeFire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Remember the Mexican Wedding Shirts that I also see in Filipino-wear? Pina would make sense there too.

Mb Here.