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PARIS — A crop of emerging brands are paving the way for innerwear’s green future. Here are a few of the movement’s pioneers who will be showing in the Salon International de la Lingerie’s “Spicy Garden.”
Founder: Jenny White
Sold at: 14 sales points, including Harrods in London and Catriona MacKechnie in New York.
Retail prices: From $70 for an eye mask to $600 for an organic silk dressing gown.
Background: Eco-Boudoir flowered from a sustainable fashion project White developed as part of her master’s of arts degree at Central Saint Martins.
Philosophy: “People think eco-friendly lingerie is all about bamboo bras, but it’s much more than that. It’s about researching the production process; using recycled packaging; avoiding harmful dyes; opting for digital printing, which is the greenest way of printing, and using sustainable fabrics. It’s also important to check out the working conditions of the production facilities.”
White also aims to shake off the category’s hippie associations. “I’m going for the luxury end of the market. Green can be sexy and glamorous.”
Combating carbon: “Customers ordering from abroad are given the opportunity to donate $10 to Iracambi, a nonprofit organization that works to conserve the Atlantic Rainforest.
Drawbacks: “Green innerwear is more expensive to produce.”
Fall 2008 collection: “I’ve used energetic prints featuring feathers and jewels,” and she’s enlarged her selection of panties and bras, using organic silk from Thailand, bamboo and hemp.
Extras: Pouches filled with organic lavender and organic cotton pillows.
Future projects: “I’m looking to design an organic cotton bed linen range.”
Founder: Kathy Abruzzo
Based: Saint-Chamond, France
Sold at: Counting mainly small boutiques and eco-oriented stores, the brand is found in 150 doors, including La Maison Simons in Quebec.
Retail prices: $30 for a bra to $60 for pajamas.
Offer: Organic socks, tights, lingerie and nightwear for children and adults.
Production: The brand’s organic cotton is sourced from a fair trade cooperative in Turkey. Production takes place in an atelier in Istanbul that was set up for underprivileged women.
“We provide vouchers for their lunch and transport,” said Abruzzo, adding that she is in talks to develop production with government-organized organic silk firms in India and Cambodia, as well as alpaca wool producers in Peru, for next year.
Peculiarity: Peau-Ethique produces one collection a year to encourage long-life usage of its products. “Going against short fashion cycles is also part of being green,” Abruzzo said.
Background: A fabric buyer.
Philosophy: “Lingerie is the closest garment to the skin, which makes it a compatible category for eco-friendly fabrics.”
Combating carbon: “Our stock travels from Istanbul by boat, then is driven over from Italy by truck. If it arrives late, then tough luck.”
Drawbacks: “Communication. Too few people know about green lingerie brands.”
Fall 2008 collection: More fantasy elements will be at play for fall, such as embroidery and organic cotton lace. Colors run from chocolate to fuchsia.
Future projects: Peau-Ethique is looking to mount an agency in the U.S. this year so product can be shipped there directly by boat.
Founder: Sophie Young
Based: Clamart, France
Sold at: Around 20 stores, including Pivot in Chicago and the 3 Suisses catalogue in France.
Offer: Legwear, lingerie and loungewear.
Peculiarity: The collection’s fabric is developed from white pine fiber.
Background: An architect. “It would have cost millions to test out ecoprojects in architecture,” said Young. “I’ve always liked fashion, saw a niche for developing a green brand in the lingerie sector and went for it.”
Philosophy: “Our collection is timeless, folding in a few new styles and colors each season.”
Combating carbon: “We try to use trains [for transport] as much as possible. We also use local production and recycled packaging.”
Fall 2008 collection: New hues include moss green, duck blue and raspberry.
Future projects: “We’re researching biodegradable fabrics.”