The Sustained Efforts of Eco-Fashion

The old garage in Bushwick had been transformed into a fashion atelier. My friend Olaf, the owner, was having an animated discussion with a seamstress about the quality of the thread used to sew a pile of garments in a corner.

Story and Photos by Icarus Blake -


John Patrick in Peru

He had just found out that the fiber of the thread was entirely artificial. What had happened to the 100% cotton spools that they had ordered? The seamstress’s point was that the ‘good’ thread would often break in the sewing machine and that it was more prone to falling apart at the seam… And, besides, the delivery was late. She could have waited, but the garments would have been delivered late. Olaf was pacing the floor cursing at the difficulties of doing the right thing. Originally from Sweden, he had well embedded in his DNA the necessity of running a sustainable business. And he was very frustrated at it. He had trouble checking his supply chain.

Was this cotton fabric coming from India really organic? How could he know if there was any child labor involved in the manufacturing? Was he, unwillingly, going to be a victim of green washing? The problem in eco fashion today, is that the garment manufacturers at the end of a long line of suppliers are the ones who are going to be held responsible for the claim of sustainability. And things often go wrong. Sustainability in fashion is a fairly recent trend. Aside for some industry giants, (Nike, Patagonia, Levi’s, etc.) that have been at it for a long time, the core of the retail business has been wrestling with this problem only recently.

Organic Wool Red Bow Dress by Carrie Parry

Social Media, once again, changed the game. It brought to the stage powerful communities of people sincerely concerned about the environment. It gave them a voice and the power to reach much farther and more effectively than before. Consumers have become very savvy, and the competitive price of eco products has leveled the selling field.Today, the picture of a child working in a field in Mali can be on the web in real time and cause a stir. This, is every business’s nightmare.

U neck tee and circle skirt by Titania Inglis Photo: Evan Brownie

Traceability is a double edge sword. Aside from the supply chain, sustainability is also a practice that needs to be applied to the work place. Many a time I have walked into the offices of ‘eco’ businesses that focused so much on the end product, forgetting their working environment. Why are you using recycled denim for your collection while your showroom is lit with tungsten lights instead ofLEDs? And what is up with your AC blasting and keeping you under arctic temperatures? Small and medium companies understand the need to have sound environmental policies in place. Many big companies are expecting their supply chain to issue CSRs (Corporate Responsibility Report) and there is talk of a unified CSR protocol to become a legal standard. Something else very interesting is happening. Until a couple of years ago, sustainable fashion was considered a fringe business and looked upon with almost derision. To be honest, the early efforts looked pretty ugly, and we know there is no place for that in fashion. But young generations of talented designers have been entering the eco fashion industry with passion and much improved designs. It is becoming a real business. When we came up with the idea of CBK, our Brooklyn Lifestyle eMag, we realized that there was no platform dedicated exclusively to the eco fashion industry. That’s why we decided to dedicate our Fashion section exclusively to the sustainable side of fashion.  We have compiled a database of companies and were pleasantly surprised by the numbers and the dedication. We will do our best to make them known through our eMag and give them a voice. And, of course, we will begin shooting editorials with their ‘conscious’ clothing. Stay tuned.

One Response to “The Sustained Efforts of Eco-Fashion”

  1. Mihriban says:

    i want to build a shipping cotnianer home im already designing multi functional small furniture, rain water collection, biogas heating, solar water heating , and LED solar lighting system the idea is to finish the inside of the cotnianer with only the very best building materials, granite counters, cherry floors, ect thus making it very high end yet inexpensive, comfortable and long lasting. Maximizing outdoor living spaces for a larger feel