New York City’s Fashion Coterie tradeshow happens twice annually — a gathering where retailers can see designers’ newest product lines and purchase their inventory for upcoming seasons. All of the popular lines that we know of and see around in our local boutiques are there, such as UGG Australia, Trina Turk, Tibi, Shoshanna, Steve Madden, BCBG and Citizens of Humanity. But, over the years, we’ve seen a growing trend of eco-friendly designers as well, and like to seek them out first to see what’s new and inspiring. Let’s get one thing straight: Eco-fashion does not equal frumpy. In fact, we were quite impressed by many of the brands that were showing at Coterie’s latest show in February 2012. Both Collared Greens and Amour Vert were standouts for us this year, making the stereotype of eco-fashion a thing of the past. We were hooked on Collared Greens as soon as we were introduced. It’s not often that you see a men’s brand focused on sustainability, and with such passion. Founded by R. Randolph “Randy” Ashton in Ketchum, ID, Collared Greens believes “that elegance and eco-consciousness can coexist, and has combined these ideals in an effort to redefine American fashion with forward-thinking and timeless style.”
Collared Greens Dogwood Bow recycling
Collared Greens' Dogwood Bow in yellow. Photo courtesy of Collared Greens.
Prior to starting Collared Greens, Ashton worked as a freelance photographer, and the idea for the business came to him while on assignment to photograph the great Atlantic salmon rivers for the North Atlantic Salmon Fund. One thing that is obvious in having a conversation with Ashton is that he gets it, and he is fully committed to protecting the environment. As he says, “Collared Greens is a brand that does it right, does it simple, does it with passion and does it with as little impact on the environment as possible.” All of the products from Collared Greens are made in the U.S. The polo shirts and hats are made with 100% organic cotton and low-impact dyes, while the ties are made from natural silk and sewn in New York City. The packaging for the polo shirts is an organic cotton sack that can be used again, and the same goes for the tie packaging, which is made from 100% post-consumer paper. The hangtags, shipping boxes, packing tape and tissue are all made from recycled cardboard and paper.
Amour Vert Drew Green Dress recycling
Amour Vert's Drew Green Dress made of bamboo fibers. Photo courtesy of Amour Vert.
Collared Greens does have a few women’s items, but we found Amour Vert to satisfy our fun and flirty day-to-night eco-fashion requirements. With a wide array of dresses, tops and skirts that are all made in the U.S., Amour Vert’s items are chic and well priced to boot. Amour Vert, meaning “Green Love,” was founded by Linda Balti in collaboration with Christoph Frehsee. The California-based company is believes in high fashion and high quality, and wants to prove that it is possible to combine these with eco-friendly fabrics to result in affordable pieces. The company uses a variety of fibers to make its clothing lines, including organic cotton, bamboo, soy and hemp. But it also uses a few other interesting fibers as well, including peace silk, tencel and modal. While silk is a natural fiber, according to Amour Vert, the mass production of it has made it unsustainable. The company’s peace silk process does not kill the hard-working silk worms and, instead, allows the moths to emerge from their cocoons and live. Tencel, which is supposedly as soft as silk, cool as linen, absorbing as cotton and warm as wool, is a natural ?ber engineered from wood pulp cellulose in a waste-free production process. Lastly, modal, known for its bright colors and softness, is made from the cellulose of beech trees. Amour Vert says that it carefully investigates the production process of each and every one of its natural and organic fabrics to keep chemicals off of our skin and also out of our soils. In speaking with retailers that were in a few of the eco-fashion booths, it seemed as though they were quite impressed with the variety of eco-fashion options as well. And, as one said, “The designs and fabrics are so beautiful, I wouldn’t even have known it was eco-friendly.” Yes, the assumption that eco-fashion is not fashionable is finally starting to change, and we can’t wait to see new finds at the next show this upcoming fall.