This past Thursday, Inhabitat attended “Project Earth Day”, an eco-friendly fashion show at the Teknion showroom. The event was organized by Emerging Green Builders of New York (EGBNY), the local chapter of USGBC and co-sponsored by o2-NYC, and Green Drinks. PROJECT EARTH DAY ECO FASHION SHOW >
In addition to the fashion show, which was comprised of looks from NYC’s eco-fashion designers, the night also featured a student competition. The organizers graciously invited me to be one of the judges, which was no easy task. Overall, I was impressed by the level of work that went down the runway. The students were able to use any eco-friendly material they wanted, but also had donated eco-friendly interior textiles at their disposal.
Having been a fashion design student not too long ago, I know the toil that goes into producing a garment. In that regard, I appreciated all of the students efforts, but there were clearly some standout pieces. While some may have been strong in construction, others excelled in ingenuity. When the time came for myself and the other four judges to confer, however, we had to evaluate the full package: use of eco-friendly materials, marketability, construction, innovation, and overall aesthetic.
There was some heated jockeying for favorite designs among the five judges, which included Jennifer Busch (Contract Magazine), Christian Larsen (MoMA), Randy Fahey (Gensler) and Margaret Lydecker (GreenDrinksNYC). I might have been the only one of the judges that has sewn, but it didn’t take a designer to notice pins in a couple of the garments. All of a sudden I had echoes of Project Runway in my head. “Nice concept, but terrible execution.” “It wasn’t finished!” On the other hand, I felt compelled to point out to my cohorts that indeed it takes a long time to give an entire jacket a Hong Kong finish and making jackets and pants in and of itself are more complex construction tasks. While I think each of us may have ordered the winning line up a little differently, finally, we all felt comfortable that the front runners were acknowledged.
Xay Xiong took the first prize for her empire waist dress and vest. The design should be noted for it’s flawless execution. Xay also made her garment from all interiors fabrics, but did so in a way that did not make the model look as though she was wearing her sofa down the runway. Xay will graduate from Parson’s School of Design next month.
Kacie Rushton took second place. Kacie made a three-piece ensemble that included an organic cotton t-shirt, a hemp cropped jacket lined with hemp silk finished with organic wool topstitching and a re-purposed leather detail on the back, and pants made from Terratex Sol dyed and recycled polyester. Kacie’s designs gave special attention to detail, were well finished and completely wearable. She is currently a student at The Fashion Institute of Technology.
Jennifer Kim’s futuristic third place entry represented “a juxtaposition of modernity and back-to-nature.” She used eco-friendly Maharam fabrics to create a fantastic hooded dress. The design was intentionally kept minimal to recognize that beauty can be achieved with frugality. Jennifer is currently a student at Parson’s School of Design.
Caroline Hur and Tiffany L. Pek received honorable mentions. First-year design student Caroline was recognized for the honeycomb inspired, black and white checked jacket made from eco-friendly Maharam textiles. Tiffany, a student at Parson’s, created an impeccably tailored menswear ensemble that included a hemp herringbone peacoat with interchangeable front panel, hand-dyed organic cotton bias finished seams (a.k.a Hong Kong finish) and tencel hemp-lined sleeves. She completed the look with a pair of flat front wool trousers in wool by Kvadrat.
We’ve got a bunch more photos from the show below, but if you want to see all of our photos of Project Earth Day, check out our FLICKR FEED >
Thanks to all of the students for entering and helping to elevate eco-fashion. There are limited opportunities in the fashion industry to work for a company committed to sustainability, which is likely why most of the looks that followed in the second part of the program were from young designers who are forging their own way. However, as more people are educated about sustainability in the apparel industry the more avenues there will be for change. Only last summer was I seated next to a designer who told me that you couldn’t make high quality garments with organic cotton. There still exists a lot of misunderstanding in the industry, so these students might be given the task of educating their future employers. As the market begins to tip and change, knowledge of sustainability as it relates to the apparel industry may also become an asset that sets these students apart.