Beyond Ponchos: Green Fashion Gets Stylish. Here’s Where And How You Can Do It.


Eco-friendly duds have come a long way since the days of hippy and itchy hemp pants. Eco and luxury have joined forces, Barneys New York sells stylishly sustainable garb, and celebrities such as Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones are delving into designing green fashion lines of their own.

Ecologically minded designers are making it easier than ever before to go green without foregoing fashion. Defined by the nonprofit Sustainable Technology Education Project (STEP) as clothes ‘that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry,’ these styles are in higher demand than ever. According to the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report, almost 9 out of ten Americans surveyed identify themselves as ‘conscious consumers,’  who if offered products of equal quality and price, are more likely to buy from companies that are committed to environmentally friendly practices.

‘Who said you have to give up looking fabulous and living well in order to do good?’ says Rebecca Luke, senior stylist and co-founder of the Sustainable Style Foundation. In honor of Earth Day, the SSF released its fifth ‘Best Dressed Environmental List,’ with hopes of inspiring everyone, ‘from Madonna to the mom next door, to make more sustainable decisions in their personal lifestyle choices,’ says Sean Schmidt, SSF co-founder.

The top spots on SSF list is held by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai, for women, and human rights advocate Van Jones, for men. Not far behind are the green movement’s heavy hitters, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey and designer Stella McCartney. ‘These individuals have a great sense of personal style but they’re also trying to make the world a better place,’ says Luke.

You don’t have to be a celebrity (or have their budget)  to get your closet to go green. Here are some of MainStreet’s favorites designers and boutiques:


* Loomstate: makes100% organic cotton jeans and casual wear made from 100% certified organic materials.

* Edun: U2 rocker Bono and his wife Ali Hewson launched this line of t-shirts and jeans in 2005. They are manufactured in countries across the globe with the focus on building sustainable communities.

*Nau: This line of slick jackets and outdoor gear made without bleaching, chemical sprays, and resin treatments looks just as good in Manhattan as it does on Mount St. Helen’s.

* Emily Katz: This Portland based green designer uses fabrics like soy jersey, recycled poly denim, water resistant fleece and organic cotton fleece to make modern, tailored dresses, tunics and jackets.

* Lizzie Parker: Sweats have never been this comfortable or stylish. Parker uses eco-friendly bamboo and 100% organic cotton for her collection of dresses, jackets, tops and jackets, all capable of going straight from the gym to a date.

Visit these online green boutiques for one stop eco-fashion shopping. Maybe you’ll discover a favorite designer of your own!


* The Green Loop, Portland, Ore. 

*Kaight, New York, N.Y.

*Therapy Clothing, Austin, Tx

*Azalea Boutique, San Francisco, Calif 

*Bohmo, Sarasota, Fla.
And don’t forget about the original in sustainable dressing, buying used and vintage. The E.P.A. estimates 11.8 million tons of textiles were generated in 2006, or 5% of total U.S. municipal solid waste. Check out your local Buffalo Exchange, or Crossroads Trading Company for trendy recycled clothes.


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