image: Diane Bondareff, Associated Press

Quite a bit of eco-buzz has been generated since Earth Pledge’s FutureFashion runway show here in NYC on Thursday night, the eve before the official launch of New York Fashion Week. This has to be a good thing given that just a few years ago no one would have imagined names like Givenchy, Versace, or Burberry coming together to explore the possibilities of fibers like hemp, abaca, or bamboo for their future collections. Leslie Hoffman, the Executive Director of Earth Pledge pulled off quite a coup in enlisting twenty-eight internationally recognized designers for the creation of a one-of-kind collection that incorporates a feast of organic fibers and textiles. With help from the show’s sponsors – Barneys New York, Lexus Hybrid, and Pure & Natural, Earth Pledge truly upped the ante from collections past in an effort to take the mystery out of how fashion and style are moving in the direction of improved sustainability.

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Leslie Hoffman writes in the preface to the FutureFashion program notes that four years ago Earth Pledge‘s library of sustainable materials included a listing of approximately 50 fabrics. Today’s collection includes over 600 materials and is growing steadily. With that it mind, it seems as if the fibers utilized by the designers in Thursday’s runway presentation was just a sampling of what might be possible down the line as a handful of forces in the fashion industry search for viable solutions to greener fabrics and the improved lifecycle of garments. Ms. Hoffman also cleverly included a glossary of fiber and textile terms in her (recycled paper) program that helpfully defined some of the more exotic materials that are available for designers. This was extremely useful as many of us are familiar with eco-fibers like bamboo, hemp, organic cotton or wool, and soybean, but are less familiar with abaca, lyocell, mud silk, sasawashi, or peace silk, for example.

Despite the diversity in all of these offerings, it was evident that designers still play it somewhat safe when they are considering an organic palette. Many of the pieces in the FutureFashion collection were cream-colored or off-white in hue, enhanced nonetheless by exquisite innovation in tailoring and/or layered textile combinations. Who could resist an organic voile summer dress by Stella McCartney or a soy, bamboo, or silk parachute dress by Thakoon? Yves Saint Laurent’s organically pigmented bio-grain poudre tuxedo jacket and pant with an organically pigmented bio-silk satin gilet hardly sounds “crunchy”, and, of course, Michael Kors whipped up a recycled cashmere striped sweater dress and scarf for eco-fab girls on the go!

The FutureFashion collection will be on view in the windows of Barneys New York flagship store at Madison Avenue and 61st Street from February 1 – 21. Despite the luxe venue for these garments, we are excited that some of these pieces will be showcased on the street where passersby can admire their rich complexity and dream about the future of sustainability. As Leslie Hoffman aptly puts it…”enjoy the show, and consider it the beginning of something that will evolve over time. It is not about this season. It is about every season.”

+ Earth Pledge’s FutureFashion
+ Earth Pledge’s FutureFashion White Papers on
+ Support Earth Pledge

+ Nylon Magazine’s Commentary on Earth Pledge’s FutureFashion Collection