As a young girl all I ever wanted to be was a fashion designer. I came close to turning that dream into a reality. I worked at designer boutique stores, did window displays for department stores, and worked as a fashion stylist for photographers and fashion show producers. My first writing job was even for a fashion publication. Funny enough it was fashion that led me into my current career in construction. But fashion is still with me. I pour over my monthly magazines in awe of some of the great couture designs to come out of Paris.

You can always look to Europe to find out what the latest looks are and the hottest trends. But one new trend that’s sweeping the industry is coming from America: Eco-Fashion. Designers from all across the states are turning out some great clothes with a lot of style. Long ago, fashion design with an environmental bent conjured up images of hemp sack dresses in drab colors or shoes made from jute. Style options weren’t plentiful and what was available was costly! Today you have everyone from top designers like Linda Loudermilk to rock stars like Bono of U2 doing their part to create clothes that are hip, stylish and eco-friendly. There’s even a great site which I personally love called Green Loop, where you can find it all at one place!

Eco-fashion usually encompasses clothes made from raw, organic materials such as cotton grown without pesticides, reused cloth, or materials made from recycled items such as plastic bottles. Designers like to experiment with fibers made from bamboo and other exotic plants. Rarely, if at all, do they use chemicals or bleach in their fabrics; and the best part is most of the clothing is made using labor that has been paid a fair wage.

When I started to research for this article I was sure I’d find a few good places, some I knew about already; but to my surprise there are a slew of fashionable sites online for the eco-conscience consumer. This was very encouraging considering how the fashion world is often perceived as being superficial. Even the TV reality show Project Runway featured a recycled fashion episode recently. The contestants were led to a waste disposal site and had 30 minutes to gather whatever they thought would make for a good dress. Once they returned to their workplace they were given one day to construct a dress from “garbage”. I must admit some of the ideas they came up with were fantastic.

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If you are interested in searching some sites to see what’s out there; here is a list to get you started:

Stewart + Brown
Cool not Cruel
Ecoist (these bags are really cute!)
Earth Bitch
Be the Change
Anna Cohen

There’s also a blog devoted just to eco-friendly fabrics called Organic Clothing.

And for those who like vintage fashion, that is the ultimate in re-using and recycling. What’s old is now new again. Happy shopping!

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