Fashion World of GREEN Textile and Merchandising

On Friday, November 14 I had the opportunity to see just what was going on in the consumer fashion world of GREEN textile and merchandising. Titled Eco-Fashion and held at the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre in the Fashion Institute of Technology, this panel focused on the growing trend of organic and green textile production.

From FIT – “1st floor Sustainable fashion is no longer a niche market concern. Beyond the current trend for organic materials, consumers are becoming more aware of the apparel industry’s impact on the environment as media coverage on global warming increases. From consumer lifestyle shifts to fair trade practices, panelists will define and discuss the complex issues surrounding eco-fashion or green fashion. Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director of Barneys New York; Britt Bivens, director of 4.5 Productions; Susan Cianciolo, designer and artist; Johanna Hofring, entrepreneur and owner of Lower East Side boutique Ekovaruhuset; and Sass Brown, professor of Fashion Design at FIT, designer and fair-trade fashion consultant, will explore this timely topic. “

I had the opportunity to meet quiet unassuming Aussie Britt Bivens from her generous contribution of fabric samples to my non-profit Sue Rock Originals EVERYONE, Inc. Her generosity was abounding as she spoke about her work in the industry. As she mentioned her anticipation of an upcoming Green seminar at FIT, I considered attending. Little did I realize that not only was she director for 4.5 productions a cutting edge Trend forecasting agency, but she was also director for Promostyle US – a top Trend forecaster in the US.

The program began with Ms. Bivens discussing green trends in the market and how the public is setting the tone with merchandisers and manufacturers, creating a need for change in the textile market.

The program moved on to Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director of Barneys New York. Ms. Gilhart shared the dilemma of high end businesses in finding organic/green products of the quality of their other merchandise. This challenge brought them to rediscovering the organic quality of products they already had and requesting unique design for the Holiday season. They also approached designers Philip Lim and Heather McCartney to create organic items espeically for Barney’s. This plan was a unique success. Barneys is looking for energy and dynamism in their designers. Their customers desire the luxurious – want to have things that are handcrafted. The commitment to have a Holiday Season catalog committed to Green Products speaks volumes for the future textile market.

Next was Susan Ciaciolo, internationally reknowned artist and fashion designer. She currently is working on handsewn commissioned pieces for clients. Her focus was on recycled denim and reworked vintage clothing. It was wonderful how she passed pieces of her work to the audience to get a real feel for her work. She stated that when working in Japan, she created an entire collection from organic materials. This process for her was amazing showing that working organically preserved an actual “energy in the fabric.”

More about this on our next installment.

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