Since it's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo Spring Summer 2015 I thought I might introduce you to an ethical fabric called Rexel. Rexel (as it is known in Japan) or Tencel® is a fibre made from Eucalyptus pulp. It has exceptional natural characteristics for absorbency, hygiene and temperature regulation making it excellent for use in Spring Summer clothes. It is also a great for children’s bedding because of these same characteristics.
Eucalyptus is a smart choice for making fabrics because it can be grown on marginal land unsuitable for food crops with minimum of water and care. Eucalyptus wood chips are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mixture. This is then pushed through small holes to form threads. These are chemically treated, lubricated, and then combed and cut into usable lengths. The lengths of fiber are then spun into yarn and woven into cloth. The final fibers are biodegradable and can decompose in soil burial or in waste water treatment plants.
The concept of ethical fashion, which has taken root in Europe and the United States, is spreading in Japan. For example Japanese apparel maker United Arrows Ltd has released ethical products under the Tege brand and they are also part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative. The EFI was established by the International Trade Center, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, to provide economic opportunities for women in developing nations to help lift them out of poverty. Other EFI participants are some of the world’s leading brands, such as Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Australian brand sass & bide.
When I think of ethical fashion I still mostly think of natural looking clothes that don't excite me at all. The pieces are a far cry from a Chanel suit or an Alexander Wang sports luxe dress. Google ethical fashion and the images are mostly natural coloured boho looks that scream hippy chic. This sort of look is not really me at all. I think when more brands adopt the ethical fashion standpoint there will be more fashionable options available.
In 2004, Paris Fashion Week launched its Ethical Fashion Show, and from 2006 Estethica brought ethical fashion to London Fashion Week. Ethical Fashion Show Berlin premiered in January this year and in late April, an ethical fashion show was held in Tokyo that was organized by Ethical Fashion Japan as part of a yoga event. Although momentum is gathering this still means eco fashion is marginalised.
Ethical Fashion Japan have a great directory on their site that lists ethical fashion designers from around the world. Ada Zanditon, a British fashion and jewellery designer, is an advocate of fair trade practices and environmental awareness. Zandition is listed on the Ethical Fashion Japan website and sent her Spring Summer 2015 Collection down the runway at the ME Hotel for the recent London Fashion Week. Ada Zanditon uses a range of organic, fair-trade and natural fabrics as well as innovative waste reducing and energy conscious solutions to create sculptural, elegant, desirable fashion. This collection (see below photos) is certainly not boring. You can read more about her sustainable practices here - which includes using eco-friendly light bulbs, eco-friendly cleaning products and recycled stationary in her studio.