Economics are making it difficult for mainstream garment manufacturers to go green, The New York Times reports. Most synthetic materials are still petroleum-based, and organically grown fibers are in short supply.
George Feldenkreis, Perry Ellis’ chairman, says that by and large, the public does not want to pay more for green apparel.
Still, at the end of this month Perry Ellis will introduce a line of ecofriendly outdoor garments that will include pants and shirts of organic cotton. “The fashion business is all about being first with a trend,” Feldenkreis says. “And we really believe that the number of educated, high-income people who are willing to pay more for ecologically correct garments is growing. Education is going to change everything. More people will learn, for example, that it can take three pounds of pesticide to produce one T-shirt, and this knowledge might make them more willing to pay for organic cotton. And that, in turn, will give growers an incentive to produce more, which will bring the price down.”
Other companies have or are planning the same kind of product lines. Earlier this month, select REI brand products began carrying an eco-sensitive label, designating items manufactured with a high percentage of recycled, rapidly renewable or organic fibers.
Feldenkreis points to other ways clothing companies are going green, such as paper hang tags that can be recycled, no longer shipping shirts wrapped in tissue paper, and not automatically shipping garments in polybags.