Eco Criteria for Clothes

Most people use the term eco fashion to describe clothes created or manufactured in such a way as to contribute to a healthier world. There are fashion shows built on that concept, such as Portland Fashion Week, and many designers are participating in the eco fashion revolution. Funny thing is, eco fashion has been around since the hippy dippy 60's, and we've only recently defined what it means to any particular group of people.

So....how many definitions for eco fashion are there? Well, turns out there are at least eight. Surprised? I was. The eight types of eco fashion are:

  • vegan
  • ethically produced
  • craft
  • custom
  • fair trade certified
  • organic
  • recycled/upcycled
  • vintage

So what do all these terms mean, and how are they different?

Vegan refers to clothing that is made without the use of leather or animal products. This concept is central to the current debate related to the use of real fur in faux fur, and the inappropriate labeling of faux fur. That's probably a blog for another day.

Respecting people and the environment is the core criteria for ethically produced. It takes a while to become certified as organic or to get the Fair Trade certification, and the companies using the terminology ethically produced are working on getting that certification. The concept is that they are behaving in compliance with Fair Trade or organic criteria, and want some recognition until enough time has passed for them to get certified.

Craft is eco, but only as defined by the segment of the population that wants to preserve hand stitching, piece work and 'homemade' skills. I still have fond memories of learning to cross-stitch, and it's definitely an achievement to create something homemade.

I was a bit puzzled about this next category, because custom made clothing doesn't seem all that eco. The theory is that custom made clothing encourages quality and a slow manufacturing process rather than fashion that is mass-produced. The logic seems to work.

Fair Trade Certified and organic are frequently used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences. Fair Trade Certified is a certification that supports and promotes standards for international labor practices. Organic refers to clothing made from natural fibers grown without the use of pesticides or toxins.

Recycled and upcycled are fairly self-explanatory. If it's made from something already made, you're reducing the amount of trash sent to the landfill. Hoo-rah!

Vintage - same principal applies here as to recycling and upcycling. If you can make it work in your wardrobe, and don't have to purchase new, you're reducing the impact to the environment.

Now that you know what the various definitions are for eco fashion, what do you think? Have any to add? Think one (or more) should be subtracted?