The Cost of Sustainable Fashion

This past week in NYC, The Washington Post‘s Robin Givhan hosted a panel discussion, called “Voices in American Fashion,” between Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa, Maria Cornejo and Yoehlee Teng. Fashionologie took notes of the conversation, which covered celebrity designers, real-sized women and the alienation women thanks to fashion magazines. (Cornejo herself admits to feeling this way, saying, “I don’t even want to look at them. Anybody can make a 15-year-old model look good. It takes a lot to make a 47-year-old look good. There’s just this really big disconnect.”). The discussion got more interesting when the topic moved to sustainable fabrics.

Or, more specifically, to their affordability. “Only big companies like Target and Wal-Mart could [make it more affordable]. And if they did it, it would trickle down to us,” Cornejo says of the high price tag attached to most sustainable fabrics. So, as long as independent designers are the majority of brand heads committing themselves to using solely locally grown or sustainable fabrics and forgoing cutting costs by utilizing cheap materials or means of labor, it’s an uphill battle. But, if demand is increased exponentially, price points drop and even more individuals involved in the fabric game may begin working towards a greener practice. Fashion may never be completely sustainable, but working to promote better, more ethical fabrics is surely one step every major retailer should be taking. While H&Ms newly launched organic line may have proven not totally ‘organic,’ its fabrics were grown without hazardous chemicals and uses recycled polyesters. It’s a move in the right direction.