Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hemp Couture

When I read the Reuters' headline "Green is the New Black" I became very excited. Blame it on the part-Irish in me, but I just love the color green; kelly, lime, emerald, forest...I adore the entire green and greenish family. I even have great nostalgic affection for the avocado green that covered most Sears' Brand Appliances back in the 1970's.

So, imagine my horror, when I read the first line of the story and realized that by green they didn't mean the much overlooked kicky hue but by green they meant environmentally conscious.

Now, I care about the planet as much as the next carbon-based lifeform, but I also care about fashion. Letting environmentalists anywhere near the clothing industry is like asking Godzilla to be captain of your Neighborhood Watch group.
"With Seventh Avenue proclaiming that 'green is the new black,' we can expect a surge in fashion innovations in response to climate change," said Jo Paoletti, a professor at the University of Maryland and an expert in design and fashion.

It will mean not only debates about the benefits of cotton versus polyester or other fabrics, but likely future innovations such as smart clothes that monitor and adjust to body temperature to reduce the need for air conditioning and heating, she added.
I have this image of us all walking around wearing those suits from Dune that recycle sweat into tasty drinking water. I see a day when the only accessory our outfit will need is a straw.
"All of this is coming very quickly. Three years ago no one cared about this in apparel and textiles -- they had people who would wear hemp clothing but they'd buy it at hemp shops. Now it's much more mainstream and the marketplace is catching up," he explained in an interview.
First, it's the fabric that will be changed and next comes style. You don't believe me? These are people who like to wear Birkenstocks. Birkenstocks! Have you seen a pair of Birkenstocks lately? I see a person wearing Birkenstocks and I think, "Why are they so mad at their feet?"

Clothing will become less of a fashion statement and more of a political statement. "Look at me! My hemp skirt proves that I love baby turtles." "My pleated-front khaki clam diggers prove that I won't let men objectify me!" "My hand crocheted Rastafarian hat proves that shampoo is for losers!"

Already, they are trying to make us feel guilty about buying clothes we don't need.
"The same people who are now eschewing plastic bags are starting to look into their wardrobes and saying, 'Am I doing everything I can to reduce my consumption in terms of clothing?"' Paoletti said.

"Most Americans have many, many more clothes in their closet than they can wear. And I think they're aware of that," Paoletti added.

The average person in the U.S. throws away nearly 70 pounds of clothing and textiles a year, according to the Council for Textile Recycling in the United States.
Actually, I don't throw away nearly 70 pounds of clothing and textiles per year because I take my slightly worn clothes to Goodwill where the sale of those garments will help poor people. And since I am also a poor person, I subsequently purchase clothes from Goodwill thus giving them new life and keeping them out of landfills. It's called recycling. While you were out tying yourself to a tree, I was packing up my gas-guzzling station wagon and cruising on down to the donation center.

Yes, we can all do more to protect Mother Earth. But there's no reason why we can't look good while we're doing it. Environmentalism may currently be in vogue but I beg you to keep it off the cover of Vogue.

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