Sustainable clothing, or ecofashion, is not only making it onto the catwalks in the fashion capitals, it’s also helping support local farmers, reports this USA Today article.Imitating the trend for locally grown food, ecofashion designers are making clothing from recycled fabric or fibers grown locally in order to avoid the energy used to transport materials. This year, American Apparel and yoga-gear retailer prAna will begin selling shirts spun with cotton grown in California’s Central Valley.
This is good news for farmers, who still grow only a small portion of the organic cotton used in the apparel industry. But Organic Exchange predicts that sales of organic cotton will reach $226 million by 2009, as opposed to $19 million in 2004, and American farmers are sure to benefit. The Sustainable Cotton Project in Davis, California, has already helped almost two dozen cotton farmers penetrate the fashion industry by promoting BASIC cotton, a crop that’s not quite organic but is farmed by using 73 percent less pesticides.
Analysts still caution that until ecofashion comes down in price, only a small group of consumers will be able to afford it. Nonetheless, a significant trend seems to have begun. “It’s a total mindset shift at the design level,” said Coral Rose, who spearheaded Wal-Mart’s first purchase of organic yoga clothes in 2004. “It holds the designer accountable for their designs and their impacts.”