Clothes with an environmental bent |

Clothes with an environmental bent

Leslie Brefeld
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

SUMMIT COUNTY ” The genre may be eco-fashion, but the runway certainly isn’t made out of dirt. Imagine modern and wearable clothes with a professional-to-casual transitioning quality.

Eco-fashion is defined as clothes that are produced using environmentally sustainable practices; with awareness of how workers are treated and paid; and sometimes includes companies that donate to a humanitarian aid.

But these enlightened designers aren’t only focusing on the earthy aspect; they’re also working to sell the style as comparable to any other.

Naturevsfuture in New York uses organic cotton, organic wool, hemp, soy, bamboo, seaweed and Ingeo created from corn and wood pulp to create the “artistic statement in the form of clothing.”

Undesigned, a label created by Carol Young in Los Angeles, is made out of recycled clothes and is also “a series of beautiful, functional and seasonless clothing.”

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The green effect on fashion allows for alternatives to cotton like bamboo, which reduce the use of pesticides and insecticides.

Bamboo can be made into shirts, undershirts and socks and is a “rapidly renewable resource,” according to Beth Orstad at the High Country Conservation Center (HCCC). It’s also super soft.

Eco-clothes can be found at local and regional stores, while others can be tracked down online.

Bamboo clothing can be found at or at At the latter website shoppers can get colorful clothes and fun silk-screen T-shirts with phrases like “eco-fashionista” or “eco-chic fabulous.”

“You don’t have to wear an off-white organic shirt,” Orstad said. “There are colorful greens and purples. It shows that you can have a sense of style and be eco-friendly.”

For gear, Patagonia and Prana are good brands to support.

“Patagonia is now starting a capilene recycling program,” Wier said. “They take back old long underwear and thermals and make new clothes out of it. It’s a closed loop system and somewhat rare.”

Also American Apparel, which has stores in Boulder and Denver, is sweatshop-free and carries organic clothing. Orstad described the philosophy of American Apparel owner Dov Charney, from a video on the company’s website.

“He pays workers a living wage to save for their kids to go to college or for retirement.”

“There are so many different things made from recycled or renewable resources,” Orstad continued.

Try where consumers can find inner tubes used to make goggles, or where your T-shirt lists its own ingredients like Nutrition Facts on food.

Weddings, which include many more purchases than the attire, are coming around too. “Eco-chic Weddings” by Emily Elizabeth Anderson suggests buying shoes and clothes that will be worn again, and a vintage dress ” if that’s the bride’s style.

And what is not hot in eco-fashion?

“Rayon and polyester, synthetic fabrics,” said Wier.

“Polyester is made from petroleum. It’s made from the same stuff as No. 1 water bottles ” nonrenewable and full of chemicals.”

She suggested wool, hemp and cotton as sustainable natural fabrics to wear and buy.

Shopping eco-consciously may not be reusing like at thrift or consignment stores, but it does tell businesses and producers that eco-fashion is desired.

“It’s about supply and demand when you support eco-clothes,” Orstad said.

Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or

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