The Green Side of Project Runway

I’ve been a huge fan of Project Runway since it started 8 seasons ago.  What’s not to love about watching a group of passionate and truly unique fashion designers compete against each other in a high-pressure , yet thrilling setting.  And although these designers never cease to amaze (or disappoint) me…I have always felt the show was lacking in the Eco-Conscience department.  Yes they recycle items and use trash to make clothes…but I’m talking about a different level of sustainability.  Real Eco-Fashion is about making clothes that take into account the environment, the health of the consumers who wear them and the working conditions of the people who make them.

Project Runway has introduced us to a couple sustainable designers over the years, most notable Leanne Marshall, Season 5 winner.  Leanne has been designing with sustainable textiles for years, and recently produced a 100% Eco-Friendly Spring/Summer 2010 Line using organic cottons and hemp silk.  View the entire Look Book here.  She even has a line of ready-to-wear and custom designed wedding dresses!  Not only are they gorgeous, they are Eco-Friendly!!!

Info and image via treehugger 

I was also excited to hear what last season’s winner Seth Aaron Henderson is up to! Seth Aaron is gearing up for Portland Fashion Week on October 6-10, and he is bringing his all new Solar-Inspired Collection with him!  Seth Aaron partnered with SolarWorld to draw inspiration for his line as a reaction to “Pressing energy, environmental and economic challenges facing the country,” and because of his interest in exploring solar technology’s aesthetic possibilities.  His line will showcase on October 9 in PFW’s Sustainable Fashion Showcase.  And get this…The runway will be covered in SolarWorld’s all-new black monocrystalline solar panels.  How sexy is that? 

 Info via EcoSalon 

But who I’m most excited about is this season’s Gretchen Jones, Eco-Designer at MothLove and winner of both weeks 1 & 2!  Bohemian in lifestyle and design, Jones aims to create collections that beg to be worn and fallen in love with… While noted for its luxurious but minimalist aesthetics, MothLove consciously creates modern and sustainable designs. In addition, nearly all Jones' fabrics are environmentally conscious; including organic cottons, silk, bamboo and soy blends, with low impact & natural dye processes.  I’m head over heels in love with everything I’ve seen from Gretchen Jones.  Her clothes make being green seem easy-breezy!  I wish her the best of luck in winning the show…take it home for us Green Girls Gretchen!


Image via Bobbin Talk

With my mind in a flurry of Eco-Fashion, I felt I needed to get the perspective of someone who is just starting out.  Thankfully my dear friend Charise Noelle Crawford is a recent graduate of Fashion Careers College and creator and sole designer of "Pommier~ handmade, one~of~a~kind, party dresses for the eco-fabulous."  I was so excited to interview Charise, and I’m certain you’ll enjoy her refreshing attitude and dedicated passion to “Ethical Fashion”.  I know I did!

1. Why did you decide to become an Eco-Fashion Designer?

I chose to go into what I call "ethical fashion" because I believe fashion to be one of the most powerful forms of artistic expression in today's society, for the designer and wearer alike. Each garment I design is unique, charming and most importantly, wearable. It is very important to me as a mother, as a human being and co-inhabiter of this planet to create my art responsibly and inspire others to pursue a sustainable and socially conscious lifestyle.

2. What simple things can the average fashion designer do be more sustainable?

Sustainable doesn't necessarily mean "organic". While I prefer organic textiles, is it actually more "sustainable" to reuse fabric and notions from retired garments, vintage fabric, sheets, curtains, etc. When purchasing new textiles I research not only the growing, processing and dying practices, but also who is ultimately benefiting from my purchase. The most sustainable practice of all is to make timeless pieces sewn to last for generations.

3. Why is it important for the fashion industry to be more environmentally conscious?

Everyone participates in fashion on one level or another, except perhaps nudists, which means there is a lot of clothing being produced constantly. On such an enormous scale, the impact conventional manufacturing practices have on our environment is devastating. The fashion industry has the power and the opportunity to lead people in a new, sustainable and ethical direction. Whether positive or negative, we must consider our impact!

4. As an aspiring Eco-Fashion Designer, how do you plan to build a name for yourself?
I am prepared to walk through any door that could possibly open for me. As a designer of one-of-a-kinds and custom pieces, word-of-mouth and participation in local events is going to be the most effective way to get my name out there. In the future, I aspire to have my own boutique where I will continue to hand make all of my designs.

Charise in  her own organic, hemp/cotton jersey halter dress with removable (fallen and gathered) peacock feathers.  Designed for Eco-Palooza, sustainable fashion event.


If you’re interested in seeing more from Charise, she will be showing her Spring 2011 Collection at this year's Golden Hanger Awards, November 13th, 2010, at the Town & Country Hotel in San Diego. It’s a charity event for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and a fabulous way for FCC students to showcase their final collections.  And who knows…maybe one day we’ll see Charise on Project Runway!!!

So next time you’re shopping for that perfect item, make sure you consider how and where it was produced, because Being Green is always In Style!

Learn more about Carlee at Green with Envy Events

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