PARIS — With everything from bamboo skateboards to bags made of recycled billboards, brands are increasingly taking eco messages to the streets.
"Green labels among streetwear brands is one of the hottest trends around," said Luc Biermé, sales director at the Who's Next apparel show in Paris.
Not only are streetwear staples such as T-shirts and basic cotton pants easy and cost-efficient to manufacture in an eco-friendly way, but style-conscious adolescents are actively looking for apparel with a conscience, said Martin Wieczorek, head of buying for the Citadium sports store in Paris.
Brands are now touting multiple attributes — from paying fair trade prices for organic materials to recycling — rather than simply emphasizing a respectful approach to the environment, which was fashionable in the Nineties.
"What I find interesting is that brands are going further and further in their approach," said Biermé. "They take a 360-degree strategy from the product to the marketing."
He pointed to Manifeste, an uberhip brand sold at Colette and L'Eclaireur here, which traces where and by whom its cotton is picked and offsets the carbon emissions of its air transport with the association Co2 Solidaire, as an example. "They have pushed the concept to the limit," he said.
Retailers, too, are tapping into youngsters' quests for conscience-free cool.
In early November, Colette unveiled its "Green Is In" promotion featuring Katharine Hamnett and L.E.N.Y. T-shirts, whose sales go to Al Gore's The Climate Project, while Barneys New York is promoting a green holiday season and its upcoming green campaign includes a bamboo skateboard.
Meanwhile, late last month, Citadium kicked off its first green promotion "Bio et Joyeux Noel," or "Organic and Happy Christmas." It showcases a selection of brands new to the store, including Nu Streetwear's fair trade and organic jeans, T-shirts and sneakers and Moda Fusion, a brand of funky dresses and accessories made by a co-operative of former prostitutes in Brazilian shantytowns.
Citadium has quietly carried a mix of eco stalwarts like Misericordia apparel, Veja sneakers and Bilum bags made from old advertisements, together with eco subbrands such as Volcom's V. Co-logical plus organic items from Carhartt, Element and Vans for some time.
The concept also includes the introduction of lower-energy lighting and recycling points, plus the use of recycled cardboard and nontoxic paints for merchandising, as well as advice for customers to green up their lifestyles.
"A large part of streetwear's target client base of 15- to 25- [year-olds] is aware of and responsive to environmental and social issues," Wieczorek said. "Every streetwear client is susceptible to this type of offer, as long as the product is authentic and the marketing is not seen as hypocritical. The surf, skate and snowboard clients are especially interested in this," he added, pointing out surfers traditionally are particularly pollution-conscious.
Though some polls suggest environmental and social issues are not among top concerns for youngsters — a TNS Worldpanel Fashion study in August found that British people under 25 are least likely to buy ethical fashion — designers say that's because the offer has been lacking.
"Young people tend to be very concerned about the environment and fair trade but there are very few products or streetwear brands that use organic cotton or have a fair trade policy. To me it's a real paradox," explained 33-year-old Maxime Guillon, who left his job managing a graphic design agency to found Paris-based Nu Streetwear in January.
Retailing at around 100 euros, or $149, for jeans, Nu Streetwear is targeting between 800,000 and 1 million euros, or $1.2 million and $1.5 million, in first-year retail sales. (All figures are converted at current exchange rates.)
Kate Nolan, 26, who founded women's streetwear brand Fable in Dublin last year, said she shares Guillon's view that a younger consumer base is largely untapped.
"I design styles that I want to wear," Nolan said. "I figure if I exist, there must be others."
Formerly a designer for an Indian factory supplying British mainstream retailers, Nolan's wake-up call came when she found out a sequined garment she created had been subcontracted to a factory using child labor.
Fable printed tops retail from 65 euros, or $97, and maxi dresses for 140 euros, or $208. They are certified fair trade and organic, and colored with nontoxic dyes.Other designers are emerging from activewear backgrounds. Maia Andersen of Sustainable Collective by Convoy, based in California's Orange County and making organic, reversible tops and dresses using plant colors, said her experiences designing outerwear for Oakley and Cold as Ice helped her tackle the constraints of sustainable design.
"Technical design, with performance-related design challenges, absolutely influenced my passion to pursue the creation of our brand," she said. The collection ranges from $60 to $140 at retail.
Retailers cautioned eco-friendly status alone does not guarantee success. "Being eco is just one factor in producing a good product that the consumer will respond to," said Wieczorek. "For the time being, it is not a critical decision factor for most clients."
However, green appears set to become an increasingly important point of difference. "If we can propose eco-friendly [products] plus style, people will certainly choose it," said Nadege Winter, Colette's press officer and resident green guru.
"People are realizing that these aren't trends that should be taken lightly," added Biermé. "This isn't a fashion trend, but an awakening."
And, in Wieczorek's view, "I think inevitably this offer will grow to the point that brands not respecting a minimum standard of environmental or social responsibility will be marginalized. So everyone will jump on board."
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews