Tara Eisenberg and Inessah Selditz of Sublet Clothing

The mass market will inevitably grab hold of anything popular, regardless of whether that market actually embraces the ethos behind the cause or it’s just in it for pure commercial gain. That said, we think that any method that moves sustainable fashion into the mainstream is a step in the right direction. A lot of people ask if we think that sustainable fashion will be the norm in the future—and we hope so—but truth be told, being green means turning back the clock to a more conscious way of living and consuming.

Sublet Fall/Winter 2009 Collection

THE WAY WE WERE

Fashion before mass manufacturing was certainly sustainable—before the advent of artificial materials and dyes, cheap overseas labor, and overnight turnaround times. Around the turn of the 20th century, along with the explosion in the transportation industry, weapons, population, and just about everything else, fashion design and manufacturing turned to synthetic fabrics, chemically accurate dyes, and the outsourcing of labor to meet the growing need for cheap, disposable garments. This need has since accelerated and grown exponentially.

Sublet Fall/Winter 2009 Collection

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING

Cutting back on carbon emissions isn’t just a transportation or energy generation issue; the manufacturing industries, including fashion, have to follow suit. What’s heartening is that as organic food production gains popularity, we’re also noticing a corresponding growth in demand for organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, and other sustainable and rapidly renewable textile fibers.

We sense that fashion manufacturing, by necessity, will someday (soon) turn back to its sustainable roots.

We sense that fashion manufacturing, by necessity, will someday (soon) turn back to its sustainable roots. We don’t think people will go back to living in an agrarian society, but we have to develop new ways for fashion to embrace a more cradle-to-cradle life-cycle ideology.

Sublet Fall/Winter 2009 Collection

DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

So, back to the original question: Do mass-market organic lines help or hinder the cause? The answer is twofold. On the one hand, mass-market corporations have the distribution and customer base to help smaller lines gain popularity, à la organic clothing at Wal-Mart. Getting the message out about sustainable practices and materials to a wider audience is something that these partnerships can help speed up, which certainly helps the cause.

Mass-market corporations have the distribution and customer base to help smaller lines gain popularity.

But say you were an eco-friendly designer and a big chain asked you to do a line for them, there is the unsaid implication of a non-mutually exclusive endorsement. So, we guess the real question is which result has the more weighted positive outcome? And maybe that is a question that only someone who has been in such a partnership can answer.

Sublet Fall/Winter 2009 Collection

SUBLET FOR TARGET?

If Target or Wal-Mart asked Sublet Clothing to design a line for them, would we? It would take more research and soul-searching about what we would actually be getting into, but we would definitely consider it. Really, we just want to spread the word that an alternative exists to the way clothing is currently made and consumed.

If Target or Wal-Mart asked Sublet Clothing to design a line for them, would we?

Of course, the best way to be sustainable is to buy used clothing or even make your own clothes, but that is, unfortunately, an unrealistic option most of the time. The next best thing would be buying clothing made with sustainable materials and practices, as well as buying consciously. If any opportunity arises where we can get the word out about that to people, Sublet Clothing will be on board.

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