GREEN APPAREL USED to be something on the fringes of the industry, a quirky and cumbersome product too expensive and not customizable enough to be broadly salable. In the years since it's been introduced however, manufacturing costs have dropped, more stylish and versatile production techniques have become available, and most importantly, market demand has increased significantly. If you haven't given green apparel a shot, it might be a good time to start. Read on to get a head start on what you need to know about environmentally-friendly apparel and how it's improved over the years.
"When the green market started, most of the styles were limited to casual and relaxed looks with earth tone colors," said Jennifer Chiu, product manager for Ash City USA, Lenexa, Kan. She explained that now, however, manufacturing and finishing techniques have advanced so much that a vastly larger range of products and styles are available. "Even high-end retail brands have 'green' ski jackets," she said.
Mark Boisvert, partner at Aurum Organic Klothing, Burlington, Vt., said more advanced fabrication techniques have expanded the style applications of green apparel. Improvements in texture specifically have made eco-friendly fleeces and fashion items more popular. "Many organic products are created with much nicer and finer yarn that would compete in the fashion apparel category," he said.
Beyond new product categories, another style consideration worth noting with green apparel is the importance of getting the eco-friendly message across. "People want to know somehow that they are doing something for the environment," said Mark Trotzuk, president of Boardroom ECO Apparel, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He mentioned one way to do this was to incorporate the message into the embellishment on the apparel, noting, "It should be subtle, but the message should be there that, 'Oh okay, you're doing something for the environment.'"