Monday, February 23, 2009

Rodarte's interpretation of eco-fashion

Red-carpet watchers at last night's Oscars loved Natalie Portman's pink gown by Pasadena design team Rodarte. Rodarte (sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy) is a newcomer to the fashion scene, but is already making a name for itself for sophisticated, hand-crafted styles. Portman is already known for her eco-fashion -- she designed her own line of vegan footwear -- and she is regularly photographed in Rodarte.

Rodarte presents an interesting category of eco-fashion. They are less focused on materials -- they do use hemp blends and environmentally-friendly dyes, but they don't lead with that story in their marketing. Instead, they emphasize process and handwork. In an interview with Treehuggers Emma Grady, Kate Mulleavy explained Rodarte's environmental efforts:

  1. From within our company, we have set up a means to recycle all paper and plastic items. We have chosen to use canteens and glasses, instead of bottled water.
  2. The hand detailing, beading, embroidery, pinning,sewing, and cutting of our clothing allows for us to produce our garments without industrial waste or exhaust.
  3. Dyeing: our dyeing is a key element to our collection. We have chosen to use a beautiful dyeing process that can only be done on natural fibers. The process allows for our colors to be clear, and pure. This dyeing process is very much a dying art. It is done with all environmentally friendly pigments and without harsh chemicals and without producing industrial waste.
  4. We privilege craft and technique over mass production, large quantities, and gratuitous waste.
The result is clothing which looks gorgeous, stylish and expensive but not overtly "green".

My mind keeps wandering back to the clothing restrictions of World War II and the importance of obvious adherence to the rules for self-enforcement. (If a woman's dress did not meet the restrictions, it was evident to everyone who saw her.) For green fashion to be persuasive, does it need to be obvious?


Fiona said...

And the gown was pink, too, and not green. Three cheers!

Jo said...

Yes, the more I think of it, the more I believe that "stealth" green fashion is the future for many consumers. Not everyone wants to be a walking billboard for a cause.

MbS said...

This post and the last post remind me of a TakomaPark flowing purple skirt birkie-slinging colleague who HATED my idea that go to the annual meeting of ulities and regulators in

suits and horrors, the red-blowed blouse (1986-90).

I know that those energy nerds listened to me more than her....was due in part to a credible middle-class centrist look.....