It’s official! Today, Inhabitat unveils Ecouterre, an eco-fashion website dedicated to showcasing and supporting designers who not only contemplate cut, form, and drape, but also a garment’s social and environmental impact, from the cultivation of its fibers to lifecycle and disposal. Our mission: To follow the evolution of the apparel industry toward a smarter and more sustainable future, as well as facilitate a conversation about why sustainable fashion matters.

Cotton Field

Photo by Debi Cates

We’ve been writing about sustainable clothing design on Inhabitat for many years now as part of our general coverage of green design. Fashion design, however, has always stood apart from other design disciplines, like architecture and product design. No other subject matter seems to be more polarizing for readers or so misunderstood. Fashion posts on Inhabitat frequently trigger protests from readers (“drivel,” “inconsequential,” and “trivial” are some of the terms they’ve used), yet the design of clothing affects all of us very intimately and has an enormous impact on our environment.

Cotton picking in China

Photo by Michael S. Yamashita/National Geographic

Why doesn’t clothing design deserve the same type of respect or attention that building or product design gets? After all, we envelope our bodies in clothing each and every day, yet many of us barely consider where the shirts on our backs came from and how they were made.

It takes 256 gallons of water and a third of a pound of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to grow enough cotton for one single T-shirt.

Clothing uses more water than any other industry besides agriculture. Conventional cotton, which is grown in more than 70 countries and comprises almost 50 percent of textiles worldwide, also happens to be the most toxic crop in the world. Roughly $2 billion of hazardous chemical pesticides are released into the air every year, accounting for 16 percent of global insecticides—more than any other agricultural crop.

We believe that clothing design is hugely important to our society and environment, and it deserves smart, thoughtful editorial coverage through the examination of materials, production, labor, and end-of-life disposal, as well as style, function, and innovation. We hope that Ecouterre will provide a forum for discussing the impact of clothing and textiles, while drawing your attention to the burgeoning green-design movement.

We hope you like this website! We welcome your comments and suggestions!

Garment worker in a sweatshop in Bangladesh

Photo by The New York Times