Eco clothing: Shades of Green

Eco clothing
Shades of Green

Berlin is crystallizing as a capital for eco fashion. But what designers and shoppers understand by the term green fashion differs widely across Europe, spanning aesthetics to storytelling to keeping traditional skills alive.

In a drafty former postal train station in eastern Berlin, Europe’s green fashion scene is parading its wares.

The series of shows dedicated to green and ethical designs, which are part of the bi-annual Berlin Fashion Week, has been attracting record numbers of visitors as organic and sustainable style finds a growing fan base in the German capital.

The range of designs on show also illustrate just how much eco fashion has changed and how many ways there are to interpret exactly what green fashion means.

This year, 166 labels making sustainable fashion were featured at the Greenshowroom and Ethical Fashion Show on the fringes of the main Fashion Week.

The number of designers exhibiting their work has grown significantly from 39 in 2011. The range of clothing has also expanded, from garments to sportswear, bags, shoes and underwear.

The designers at the Greenshowroom may have different views on fabrics, tailoring and marketing but this week they were unanimous that fashion needs to clean up and do less damage to the environment.

“Shoppers are gradually becoming aware of the problems with high fashion,” said Zora Heinicke, a designer from Stuttgart, standing by a table with a lily, flanked by a rack of elegant navy dresses with shiny bows. “They can buy fashion cheaply but someone bleeds for it.”

One fifth of the world’s industrial fresh water pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing. Making one pair of jeans requires more than 1,800 gallons of water. More than 8,000 toxic chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, many of which are carcinogenic, corrosive or include biologically-modifying reagents.

Gradually, consumer awareness is increasing about the damage that looking good can inflict.

The growth of the Berlin trade fair and the increasing number of international designers there shows how the city is becoming an important center in Europe for sustainable fashion.

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