Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Greener Fleece

Wool is a naturally renewable resource, and with proper care garments can last for many years. It has remained a popular choice because of its warmth, softness, water-resistance, and overall durability. For those who think wool only comes in a scratchy and bulky form, think again – the softest pashmina scarves and most luxurious cashmere sweaters are also made from varieties of this fiber. New and innovative approaches are emerging within woolen textiles, including organic alternatives, recycled and blended fibers. Below are some brands whose work exemplifies the shift towards a greener wool industry.

Delano Collection coat, organic wool

New York-based Delano Collection uses organic wool for its popular classically styled coat. The chic silhouette lends itself to many seasons, ensuring the coat a long and useful life. Like organic cotton, the wool industry has created guidelines to ensure farmers use certain methods for farming their sheep. For example, sheep cannot be dipped in pesticides, as is commonly practiced in conventional farming. Additionally, the sheep graze on open farmland that has not been sprayed with synthetic pesticides. Groups like the Organic Trade Association promote alternative approaches to farming, and provide ideas for breeding healthier sheep. Like organic cotton, organic wool is especially recommended for people with chemical sensitivities. Some designers use only natural wool colors, which can range from creamy white to chocolate brown and charcoal gray. These naturally colored fibers save water and keep dyes and finishing chemicals out of the production cycle.

Many companies choose to work with branded labels like the Vermont Organic Fiber Company, suppliers of O-Wool. The company’s strict guidelines ensure designers a high-quality product in a variety of styles and colors, and their certification mark acts as an added value on labels for the finished garments. Since O-Wool maintains all properties of conventional wool, it has the potential to entirely change the farming industry. However, cost of production is still high due to the small market. Like the organic food market, organic fibers are slowly gaining ground – and as demand increases, farmers will make more of an effort to switch to organic– availability in these markets relies largely on the demand of the consumers.

Avita jumper, pre-consumer recycled cashmere

Avita, a Los Angeles-based brand, takes a different approach to wool by recycling pre-consumer cashmere to create modern street wear for young, trend-conscious customers. Owner and designer Amanda Shi learned early on about cashmere’s production cycle; her parents own a knitwear manufacturing company in China. After observing how much fiber waste is often discarded in the manufacture of cashmere, Amanda devised a way to salvage the extra material. She has reduced the family factory’s environmental impact while also producing quality goods.The resulting recycled cashmere is less expensive, soft and luxurious, and preserves natural resources.
Viridis Luxe sweater coat, hemp and cashmere

Viridis Luxe has also embraced cashmere, blending it with hemp fibers for a series of eco-conscious knitwear. Designer Hala Bahmet engineers elegant sweaters to help promote hemp’s many benefits, such as ease of care and durability. The sweaters are incredibly soft and give hemp a new look. These clothes are great for everyday wear and bring alternative fibers into the mainstream sportswear market where they can establish a lasting presence.

4 comments:

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workhard said...

Hi..thats a real informative post.. i like the collection too.. my fav is the first white one.. looks very trendy

Lingerie Blog

Machja said...

If you are looking for organic clothing to go with this wool collection, check out these organic dresses or organic jeans by Machja.
I can guarantee you the high quality, since I work for the company. :)

Anonymous said...

Natural fibers are way more eco-friendly than synthetics! I love wool in the winter, but linen for cool weather and household items--like this really cool towel from DeckTowel.com that goes with me every time I hit the beach!