Monday, September 22, 2008

Ethical Fashion round-up, 9/22

I must apologize for my odd absence over the last few weeks. As many of you know, I am writing a book (on gender and children's clothing, due out in 2010 I hope) and my attention and energies are aimed there.  I will try to make up for my neglect with a few random views from my window.

Good news! Word is getting out about rayon from bamboo, as evidenced by the increasing numbers of news items I am getting on my Google news alerts for that phrase, AND a nice caveat emptor piece in yesterday's Washington Post. (It's not 100% accurate about Oeko-Tex standards and misses the labeling issue entirely, but it's a huge step in the right direction.)

The new front: regenerated protein fibers and other obscure materials are being labeled and promoted in the same misleading ways as bamboo. Soy fiber, milk fiber, jadeite -- where does it end? The claims are astonishing (Wearing milk fiber is just like an all-day milk bath for your skin!!!) and probably as unsupported as the "bamboo rayon is antimicrobial because unprocessed bamboo is antimicrobial" claim. I am trying to ferret out the truth -- it's just on the back burner for now. (If you have info, please share!)

Also in the WaPo, the well-heeled discovered Goodwill at a charity fashion show. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, who needs more hunters on the limited second-hand territory? On the other hand, I feel vindicated -- about ten months ago, I advised a NY Times reporter that the second-hand clothing market might be worth watching and she laughed at me.

On the personal front: I completed the Wardrobe Refashion challenge nearly a month ago and still have not bought any new clothes. It was like quitting smoking; six weeks to a new habit. (I DID score an amazing J. Jill cardigan for $3.50 at Goodwill two weeks ago; yay me.)


jeana said...

hi - I'm here via wardrobe refashion. I was reading your posts about bamboo - do you have any tips for being able to tell the difference between bamboo rayon and actual bamboo (does it exist?)?

Jo said...

Jeana, until manufacturers start labeling fibers according to the FCC regulations, consumers will have to rely on hand. If it feels like rayon -- soft, silky hand -- it's probably bamboo rayon. Bamboo which is mechanically processed (similar to linen) will feel more like linen, with a stiffer hand. Bamboo linen is available here and there, but right now it is very expensive to produce. Bottom line: most of the "bamboo" you see today is rayon made from bamboo.